Drunken driving was accepted behavior until the early 1980s. Then Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) raised our consciousness. As did Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD),* Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) and other groups. Now, drunk driving is unacceptable.
Decades ago, Dean Martin and many others took pride how much they drank. Alcohol abuse and drunk driving were the subjects of jokes and general acceptance.
Law enforcement and the courts took drunk driving lightly. Violators were given warnings and light fines. Police sometimes took them home if they were well known or powerful. Even repeat offenders in major crashes 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 “shakers and movers” of society were guilty. So were millions of others. And during much of that period, the maximum legal blood alcohol concent (BAC) was higher. In fact, it was about twice as high as it is today.
MADD leader Toni Logan points out that “cocktail parties were woven into the fabric of our social lives.” She says “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 knowledge today about safety risks “we’ve adjusted attitudes.”1
Drunk driving is no longer socially accepted. Those convicted of DWI/DUI face severe penalties. These include high fines, license revocation, and vehicle impoundment. And there if jail and a number of other sanctions.
Drunken driving is clearly no longer acceptable. And we’re all safer because of that.
Drunk Driving is Unacceptable