News about Teens Drinking and Driving, Ignition Locks, and The Cost of Driving Drunk
The news about teens drinking and driving is that the numbers have dropped significantly, according to federal health officials, ostensibly due to stricter laws regarding drunk driving and limiting the hours teens are permitted to drive at night. The cost of gas might mean that teens are driving less, as well.
That’s great to hear, of course. I wondered, however, since more teens are smoking pot than drinking today, does that mean that more of them are smoking pot and getting behind the wheel?
There’s news about teens and the alcohol industry as well. In response to industry marketing codes, several brands, including Coors Light, are developing ways to test a user’s age before allowing them to take part in social media. In order to “follow” a brand, for example, teens will have to confirm they are 21, just as they must do when entering an alcohol brand’s website. I’d like to hear more about the whole rationale behind asking teens to give their true age. Do companies feel it’s the least they can do? The only thing?
I’ve kept an article that has an example of the actual cost of drinking and driving because you don’t often hear about the actual charges. It starts with the writer being stopped, arrested and then taken to the police station, where he the paid $40 in bail money. The next day he paid $134 to get his car out of the pound, and when he appeared in court, he paid $600 in fines and court fees. His brother-in-law lawyer went with him to court, so we never do learn what that would cost someone who had to pay a lawyer. Then he had to take an alcohol education class for $571, and also pay his nephew to drive him to pick his son up from college. That fee wasn’t mentioned.
After 45 days, he paid $500 to get his license back and saw his insurance premium double. He doesn’t give that amount, either, but it must be several thousand dollars. These prices probably vary depending on the section of the country, but it’s pretty astounding to consider what a couple of drinks too many can cost when you’re driving. But as the writer said, the cost of killing someone, and possibly himself, doesn’t compare.
If a letter to the editor in my local paper is to be believed, research shows that a first-time drunk driver has driven under the influence at least 80 times before getting stopped. I searched on the letter-writer’s name and town and learned why he’s so insistent that ignition locks would cut drunken-driving deaths (which is both the title of his letter and his argument). In college, Steven Benvenisti was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He recovered (miraculously, if you saw the photo on the website) and went on to become a lawyer.
Benvenisti gives some surprising statistics. Ignition interlocks are more effective than suspending someone’s driver’s license to stop repeat drunk drivers, he says, because 50 to 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. If offenders are required to have an ignition lock, they’ll have to prove they’re sober before driving, and they’ll also be able to drive to work (which is not the case if their license is suspended). Finally, he says, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlocks have been proven effective in reducing drunken-driving recidivism by two-thirds.” Not surprisingly, Benvenisti serves on the board of directors for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Joan added: I like the idea of an ignition interlock. One of our former staff members had one of the first genration kind. It was attached to his steering wheel. He had to blow into it not only to start the car, but to keep going. I found the above photo of this newer, more high tech ignition interlock on the website of the floridaignitioninterlocks.com Florida ignition Interlock Program.