NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 13 Supplement Drunk Driving

Statistical Overview

Higher Risk Drivers and Measures to Improve Public Safety

(Portions of the following section are excerpted from an article entitled MADD's Higher Risk Driver Program, by Robert Voas, January 2000, <http://www.madd.org>.)

Higher risk drivers have been defined as individuals who repeatedly drive after drinking, especially with high levels of alcohol in their blood, and who seem resistant to changing their behavior. On weekend nights in the United States, only 1 percent of drivers have a BAC of 0.15 or higher, but drivers with BACs of 0.15 or higher account for 65 percent of all drinking driver fatalities. The 1996 MADD "Rating of the States" report found that the average BAC of drunk drivers arrested by state police varied from 0.130 in Montana to 0.185 in Connecticut. A driver with a BAC at 0.15 is more than 300 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. While most drivers in fatal crashes have not yet been convicted of drunk driving, those who have are at significantly greater risk of causing a drunk-driving crash.

What complicates the situation and increases their risk to public safety is the fact that the majority of drinking drivers in fatal crashes do not have a previous DUI conviction, nor do all higher risk drivers come to the attention of the authorities before they are involved in a crash. Heavy drinkers develop a sufficient tolerance to alcohol such that they can appear to behave normally at a high BAC. Furthermore, authorities have difficulty in assuring that an individual arrested and convicted of a drunk-driving offense does not continue to drive after drinking--a shortcoming of state laws and the criminal justice system, and a lack of knowledge about how to apprehend these offenders.

On the other hand, state efforts to reduce illicit driving by convicted drunk drivers through practices such as vehicle impoundment and forfeiture, license plate impoundment and tagging, and the use of alcohol ignition interlocks appear to show promise. Those practices, combined with license suspension and treatment programs, are increasingly being used to deal with higher risk drivers.


Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has developed a plan for controlling the risk presented by those offenders who are apprehended by the police and who become liable for license action by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the courts (Voas January 2000). The recommended actions are directed at reducing the risk that these offenders will drink and drive again. MADD identifies three types of offenders as higher risk drivers:

The "Higher Risk Driver" campaign seeks to create an integrated, comprehensive system in each state where the courts, driver's licensing agencies, and treatment programs work together to control the most persistent impaired drivers. The court, in conjunction with the DMV, will have responsibilities to:

To evaluate the recovery of the convicted offender, payment of restitution, and a successful violation-free suspension period, MADD suggests that the courts and the DMV establish a DUI tracking system to record the outcome of every DUI arrest and the fulfillment of the above requirements. Secondly, they should issue an annual report on the DUI management information systems to identify operational problems as they occur.

Promising Practices

If you get in your car and drive anywhere at 0.08, you'll have a record. The limit has been reduced--along with our tolerance. Drive Drunk--Do Time--Every Time. Earn the Title of Felon in Just Four Easy Lessons: Have a few too many. Grab your keys and drive. Meet the Cops. Check into the Big House (Blackburn 1 November 1999; 1998 Annual Report).

While defense attorneys in the county courts have made the case that the highway patrol had no probable cause for stopping the driver, judges in the county are ruling that the observation of a citizen and the dispatch log for the call is probable cause for a police intervention. A substantial number of DUI cases pass through the Santa Cruz County courts each year, 15 percent of which result from a *DUI call followed by intervention. Prosecutors believe that, in the long run, the more the public is engaged in crime prevention in this manner, the less juries will be skeptical of arrests that are instigated by a citizen intervention (Marigonda 18 October 1999).

Chapter 13 Supplement References

Blackburn, K. 1 November 1999. Personal Interview with Ken Blackburn, Victim Witness Unit. Memphis TN: Shelby County Attorney General's Office.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). June 1999. DWI Offenders under Correctional Supervision. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Drug Strategies.1999. Millennium Hangover: Keeping Score on Alcohol. <http://www.


Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 17 October 1999. Crime in the United States, Uniform Crime Reports, 1998. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Marigonda. 18 October 1999. Personal Interview with Paul Marigonda, Assistant District Attorney Santa Cruz County, CA.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). 1996. Summary of Statistics: The Impaired Driving Problem. Irving, TX: Mothers Against Drunk Driving National Office.)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 1999. Traffic Safety Facts 1998, Alcohol. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 1999. Traffic Safety Facts 1998, Children. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 1999. Traffic Safety Facts 1998, Young Drivers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.

1998 Annual Report. Shelby County, TN: District Attorney's Office.

Voas, R. January 2000. MADD's Higher Risk Driver Program. <http://www.madd.org>.

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2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 13
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