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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77260 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Statutory Options for Addressing the Problem of Drinking Drivers
Author(s): M Vohryzek
Corporate Author: California Assembly
Office of Research
United States of America
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 55
Sponsoring Agency: California Assembly
Sacramento, CA 95814
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report addresses problems related to driving under the influence of alcohol, discusses current California law and the establishment of an illegal per se law, and highlights the effectiveness of illegal per se provisions in other countries.
Abstract: California Vehicle Code section 23102 (a)(b) makes it unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A person who is arrested for driving under the influence must take a chemical test to determine the level of alcohol in the blood. If the person refuses, it is presumed that the person was driving under the influence. This presumption, however, is not conclusive evidence, and it can be rebutted by the defense if the person elects to challenge the charge. As a result of the upsurge of alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities, 16 States have enacted legislation which provides that a person driving with 0.10 percent blood alcohol is guilty of drunk driving. These statutes are called illegal per se laws. The State must prove only that the defendant was driving and that the test showed the required concentration of alcohol. To assess the relative merits of this statutory option, the problems of alcoholism, alcohol-related accidents, and the relationship between the level of blood alcohol in the body ad the ability to drive safely must be considered. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the degree it affects the individual are based on three factors: the amount of food in the stomach, the rate at which the alcohol is consumed, and the body weight of the drinker. Extensive research indicates that the driving ability of persons with a BAC of 0.10 percent is impaired. Tolerance factors do not mitigate this finding. In addition, a number of studies have shown a clear relationship between a high BAC and the frequency of involvement in automobile accidents. In California, 46 percent of the fatal accidents occurring in 1979 involved alcohol. Three chemical tests (i.e., blood, urine, and breath) are used in California to determine BAC; all are valid if administered properly with accurate equipment. In general, procedures in California for detecting, apprehending, and disposing of individuals driving under the influence involve the police, district attorneys, and the courts. Illegal per se statutes offer a strict and unambiguous statement of the relationship between BAC and driving ability. The Scandinavian countries were the first to establish such laws. Although it is commonly believed that the legislation has reduced highway casualties, conclusive proof has not been established. In the United States, several State supreme court decisions have upheld the constitutionality of the 0.10 percent illegal per se law. Data tables are appended, and 24 footnotes are given.
Index Term(s): Alcohol consumption analysis; Alcohol-Related Offenses; California; Driving Under the Influence (DUI); Drunk offender implied consent; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Law reform; Scandinavia; State laws; State-by-state analyses
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