The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began reporting drunk driving crash data in 1982. Since then, drunk driving fatalities across the United States have dropped by nearly 50 percent.
Despite the decline in drunk driving deaths, the NHTSA reports that more than 10,000 people died on U.S. roadways due to alcohol impairment in 2018. That accounts for one DUI-related death every 50 minutes and 29 deaths per day.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), roughly 0ne-third of all drunk driving fatalities each year are caused by repeat offenders. Drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 0.15 percent or greater cause more than 60 percent of all drunk driving fatalities.
In addition, the GHSA reports a 16 percent increase in fatalities over the past decade involving drivers with both alcohol and drugs in their system.
A systematic and holistic approach to preventing impaired driving fatalities
The GHSA and Responsibility.org are calling for a remedial approach to preventing drunk driving fatalities caused by repeat offenders. In a spotlight report High-Risk Impaired Drivers" Combating a Critical Threat, the GHSA seeks to assist State Highway Safety Offices to tackle the problem of high-risk impaired drivers.
The GHSA defines a high-risk impaired driver as "a person who lacks the restraint or self-control to resist driving impaired."
Moreover, researchers from the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard Medical School said that high-risk impaired drivers suffer from either a substance abuse disorder or a mental health condition — which often goes undetected.
These include drivers who:
- Have a BAC of 0.15 or greater
- Are impaired by both alcohol & drugs (also known as a "polysubstance user")
- Have more than one DUI arrest
Darrin Grondel is the Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and Chair of the GHSA. He said the traditional criminal justice system is effective at keeping impaired drivers off the road. Instead, a method to prevent impaired drivers from reoffending also needs to be established.
“The aim of this new report is to encourage states and their partners to take a more holistic approach to the problem by identifying and treating the cause of the offender’s behavior to reduce recidivism and promote long-term behavior change,” Grondel said.
Can this approach save lives?
Criminal justice experts say that the cookie-cutter approach of our justice system may not be nearly as effective. They call for a more inclusive approach. DUI-offenders should be tested for drugs, in addition to alcohol in order to provide individualized treatment. There is a catch with this approach, however. Toxicology resources needed to effectively screen for drugs aren't available in many states.
In the meantime, implementing an individualized approach to repeat DUI offenders has the potential to save thousands of lives each year. Should you or a loved one be hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, pursuing a claim may be more challenging than you think. Despite the evidence, the insurance companies will likely avoid compensating you. That's even if the at-fault driver was arrested and charged with DUI.
That's why you need a strong legal advocate with real courtroom experience successfully fighting for the rights of injured motorists. Put your trust in Mike Slocumb Law Firm. Our Alabama law offices are located in Auburn and Mobile, Alabama; Baltimore, Maryland; Jackson, Mississippi; Charleston, West Virginia; Denver, Colorado; and the District of Columbia.
To find out how we can help you maximize your compensation, contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation.