Facts about Drinking & Driving -- page 4
Driving Home the Facts about Repeat Offenders
Repeat offenders continue to be one of the most difficult groups to deter from impaired driving. Although this group comprises a small percentage of the nations general driving population, they cause the most crashes. Alcohol, especially when consumed in high quantities, remains a contributing factor in these crashes. These factors demonstrate the high correlation between repeat offenders and high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Repeat offenders are high BAC offenders.
Blood alcohol concentration reflects the amount of alcohol in an individuals system. Current statistics show that the majority of impaired drivers not only exceed state-mandated BAC limits, currently set at .08 or .10, but they exceed those limits by an extremely wide margin. In 1997, fatally-injured drivers with BAC levels of .10 or higher were also six times more likely to have prior convictions for driving while intoxicated than fatally-injured sober drivers.
Studies show that the severity of motor vehicle crashes increases with the degree of alcohol involvement. Drivers with BACs exceeding .15 are 200 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, and those with BACs exceeding .20 are 460 times more likely. Because repeat offenders often drive at highly elevated BAC levels, their potential to become involved in a fatal crash is high. In fact, hard core drinking drivers accounted for nearly half of all alcohol-related fatal crashes in 1997, while representing only one percent of the drivers on the road at that time.
Repeat offenders are more resistant to typical deterrents.
Repeat offenders often exhibit anti-social behaviors, including aggression and hostility, and may partake in sensation-seeking activities and illicit drug use. Additionally, they often have a history of poor social and interpersonal relationships. As such, repeat offenders present an enormous challenge to law enforcement agencies because of their overwhelming resistance to deterrents. Enforcement strategies that deter most law-abiding citizens are not as effective with repeat offenders. As a result, despite having histories of convictions and/or crashes, a majority of repeat offenders continue to drive while impaired.
Strong enforcement and strict penalties are necessary to curb this behavior. Intervention in these cases is often not a sufficient solution. More severe alternatives are needed to enforce a lasting change in behavior, including the use of ignition interlock devices and impoundment or immobilization of the repeat offenders vehicle, in coordination with treatment through a formal substance abuse or dependency program.