Drunken driving was common and 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. Fortunately, drunk driving is unacceptable today.
Decades ago, Dean Martin and many others took pride how much they drank. Alcohol abuse and drunk driving were the subjects of jokes, knowing winks, and general acceptance.
Law enforcement officials and the courts took drunk driving lightly. Violators were typically given warnings and light fines. Police sometimes took them home if they were well known or powerful. 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 “shakers and movers” of society were guilty of drunk driving. So were millions of others. And during much of that period, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (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 continues. “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 knowledge today about safety risks “we’ve adjusted attitudes accordingly.”1
Fortunately, drunk driving is now socially unacceptable. Those convicted of DWI/DUI face severe penalties. These include high fines, license revocation, vehicle impoundment, imprisonment, and a number of other sanctions.
Drunken driving is clearly no longer acceptable. And we’re all safer because of that.
Resources for Drunk Driving is Unacceptable
- Drinking and Driving
- Drunk Driving: We Can Stop It
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving: A Crash Course in MADD