DWI/DUI: Socially and Legally Unacceptable Crimes

Before Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) and other groups raised our consciousness in the early 80s, drunken driving was common and accepted behavior.

Dean Martin and many others took pride in the quantity and frequency of their alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse and drunk driving were the subjects of jokes, knowing winks, and general acceptance.

Decades ago, drunk driving was also taken lightly by law enforcement officials and the courts. Violators were typically given warnings and light fines. If well known or important in the community, they were sometimes driven home by the police. Even repeat offenders involved in serious accidents often escaped serious punishment.

People typically thought little of receiving a citation for drunken driving. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Ted Kennedy and many other politicians, celebrities, business leaders, and “shakers and movers” of society were among the millions of citizens cited for drunk driving. And during much of that period, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was about twice as high as it is today.

Fortunately, drunk driving is now socially unacceptable and those convicted of DWI/DUI face severe penalties including high fines, license revocation, vehicle impoundment, imprisonment, and a number of other sanctions.

So how should we react to the fact that a person received a citation for DWI 30, 40 or more years ago? Speaking about such people, MADD leader Toni Logan, correctly points out that "They are of a generation when cocktail parties were woven into the fabric of our social lives," She explains that "Smoking and drinking were glamorized then. Remember cocktail hour... women had entire wardrobes with matching shoes." And "nobody thought much about getting behind the wheel after a party. There was no such thing as a designated driver." Because of widespread information today about safety risks “we've adjusted attitudes accordingly." 1

Drunken driving is clearly no longer a socially acceptable crime.  And we’re all safer because of that fact.

References

  • 1. Take Bush DUI in Context, MADD Says: Attitudes have Changed Since the 1970’s. Alcoholism/Substance Abuse. About.Com (http://alcoholism.about.com/od/issues/l/aa001104a.htm)

Readings

  • Amenda, P. J. Temperance for a New Age: The Crusade Against Drunk Driving, 1980-1997. (Fresno, CA: California State University, M.A. thesis, 1998).
  • Benjamin, T. (Ed.). Young Drivers Impaired by Alcohol and Other Drugs. London and New York: Royal Society of Medicine Services, 1987.
  • Berardelli, P. Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens. Vienna, VA: Nautilus Communications, 2000.
  • Brookhuis, K. A., et al. The effects of mobile telephoning on driving performance. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1991, 23(4), 309-316.
  • Campbell, K. E., et al. Trends in Alcohol-Related Fatal Traffic Accidents. Bethesda, MD: United States Public Health Service, 1996.
  • Candy Lightner: a grieving mother helped America get MADD. People Weekly, 1999 (March 15), 110.
  • Catchpole, J. Why are Young Drivers Over-Represented in Traffic Accidents? Vermont, South, Victoria, Australia: Australian Road Research Board, 1994.
  • Doherty, S. T. Young drivers and graduated licensing: the Ontario case. Transportation, 1997, 24(3), 227-251.
  • Donelson, A. C., et al. The Role of Alcohol in Fatal Traffic Crashes: British Columbia. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Traffic Safety Research Foundation, 1989.
  • Duncan, D. F. Chronic drinking, binge drinking, and drunk driving. Psychological Reports, 1987, 80(2), 681.
  • Frantzich, S. E. Citizen Democracy: Political Activists in a Cynical Age. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. [See section "From Grief to Action: Making One MADD -- Candy Lightner."]
  • Frisbie, T. Talking mobile. Traffic Safety, 1991, 91(2), 26-28.
  • Hans, M. Innovative programs target young drivers. Traffic Safety, 1996, 96(5), 6-9.
  • Hans, M. Graduated licensing: training wheels for young drivers. Traffic Safety, 1996, 96(2), 6-9.
  • Hasse, W. K. Rhetorical Strategies: A Critical Analysis of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. (Ohio University, M.A. thesis, 1983). [Mothers Against Drunk Drivers was the original name of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.]
  • How Effective Are MADD's Efforts? USA Today, 1992, 120, 4.
  • Kinkade, P. T. The Unintended Consequences of California's 1982 Drunk Driving Laws: The Costs of Being "MADD." (Irvine, CA: University of California, Ph.D. dissertation, 1990).
  • McGwin, G. Characteristics of traffic crashes among young, middle-aged, and older drivers. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1999, 31(3), 181-198.
  • McKnight, A. J., and McKnight, A. S. The effect of cellular phone use upon driver inattention. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1993, 25(3), 259-265.
  • Moulden, J. V. Alcohol Education: A Long-Term Strategy for Preventing Transportation Accidents. In: Benjamin, T. (Ed.). London and New York: Royal Society of Medicine Services, 1987.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Youth Fatal Crash and Alcohol Facts. Washington, D.C.: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1998.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Incidence and Role of Drugs in Fatally Injured Drivers. Washington, D. C.: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1993.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts, 1997: Young Adults. Washington, D.C.: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1998.
  • National Commission Against Drunk Driving and Harvard Alcohol Project, Center for Health Communication of Harvard School of Public Health. A Guide to Community-Based Designated Driver Programs.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A Guide to Developing a Community-Based Designated Driver Program. U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • One woman can make a difference (Candy Lightner and Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD) Vogue, 1986, 176, 170.
  • Petica, S. Risks of cellular phone usage in the car and its impact on road safety. Recherche-Transports-Securite, 1993, 37, 45-56.
  • Redelmeier, D. A., and Tibshirani, R. J. Association between cellular telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions. New England Journal of Medicine, 1997, 336(7)
  • Reinerman, C. Social Movements and Social Policy: “Mothers Against drunk driving,” Restrictive Alcohol Laws and Social Control in the 1980s. Berkekey, CA: Alcohol Research Group, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 1985.
  • Ross, H. L. Confronting Drunk Driving. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.
  • Simpson, H. M., and Mayhew, D. R. The Hard Core Drinking Driver. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Traffic Safety Research Foundation, 1991.
  • Spierer, E. Young Drivers and Alcohol: Educational Measures and Programmes. In: Benjamin, T. (Ed.). Young Drivers Impaired by Alcohol and Other Drugs. London and New York: Royal Society of Medicine Services, 1987. Pp. 227-235.
  • Violanti, J. M., et al. Cellular phones and traffic safety. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1996, 28, 265-270.
  • Weed, F.J. Grass-roots activism and the drunk driving issue: A survey of MADD chapters. Law & Policy, 1987, 9(3), 259-278.
  • Williams, A. F. Drugs in fatally injured young male drivers. Public Health Reports, 1985, 100(1), 19-25.
  • Williams, T. P. The Relative Role of Alcohol as a Contributing Factor in the Over-Representation of Young Drivers in Highway Crashes. Albany, NY: New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, Bureau of Alcohol and Highway Safety, 1981.

Filed Under: Driving