Last week, unspeakable tragedy befell a group of friends in Cutchogue, NY. Four young women, on a celebratory trip through Long Island’s wine country, were riding in a limousine when it was t-boned by a drunk driver. The limo was making a routine U-turn when the other vehicle crashed sidelong into its flank, killing four of the female passengers. This week, hundreds of mourners gathered to remember the lives of these young women, taken so far before their time. There were 8 total in the group, and the four who survived did so with severe physical injuries- and, likely, even graver emotional wounds. Steven Romeo, the 58-year old who was the other driver involved in the accident, plead not guilty to the charge of drinking while intoxicated. The damage, however, has been irreversibly done. And so many have been affected by this tragedy.
Drinking & Driving
Drinking and driving is a problem that still plagues America- a problem that is responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 people per year. This number is inexcusably high. Driving is an intrinsically dangerous act, and because of this, driving accidents are bound to happen. Driving itself should be treated with more caution than most people are willing to apply. Consuming alcohol before driving only exacerbates the danger; it is a stupid and selfish thing to do. And as even a quick glance at the stats will tell you, it’s massively fatal.
Drinking & Driving Statistics
- In 2013, almost a full third of vehicular fatalities involved at least one driver found to be under the influence of alcohol. That’s over 10,000 deaths.
- 50-75% of those whose licenses have been suspended because of drinking and driving offenses continue to drive illegally during their suspension.
- Sobriety checkpoints, enforced by police officers, are a well-known and effective method used to regulate and minimize drinking and driving accidents.
- Drinking and driving is most prevalent in drivers between the ages of 21 and 25.
- In 2010, over 1.4 million Americans were arrested for driving under the influence of either alcohol or a narcotic. This figure, while high, is actually somewhat lower than America’s peak year of 1983, where 1.9 million such arrests were made.
- George Smith, a London cabbie, was the first person to ever be fined for driving under the influence. The year was 1897, and he was fined 25 shillings.
- Drunk driving, with all its manifold dangers, costs the United States of America nearly 200 billion dollars per year.
A Quick Overview of Drinking & Driving Laws
When Delaware passed legislation to change the legal limit defining Driving Under the Influence to .08%, it became the final state to assert this percentage as the legal threshold. Now, all 50 states are in accord, and all states also enforce an ancillary “zero-tolerance” policy, which applies to drivers under the age of 21. Since alcohol consumption is illegal nationwide for those under the age of 21, any trace of alcohol found in the blood is categorized as a Driving Under the Influence offense for these young motorists. While the National Transportation Safety Board rightly recognizes that lowering the BAC (blood-alcohol content) threshold can go a long way in saving lives, there is an issue of practicality to consider. Whether or not the sustained enforcement of lower BAC limits is a feasible endeavor has been hotly debated over the past few years.