Drunk driving has been subject to a sustained attack on all fronts, from increasingly severe punishments and greater restrictions to a decade's long publicity campaign by organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). And there has been progress. The decline in highway fatalities has in part been attributed to increased enforcement of drunk driving laws.
In 2011, highway deaths fell to 32,367, the lowest number in absolute terms, since recordkeeping of these statistics began in 1949. Nonetheless, in 2010, 31 percent or 10,228 deaths resulted from alcohol impaired motor vehicle accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that 30 people die every day in the U.S. in drunk driving accidents.
In Columbia County last week, one of those deaths resulted in the conviction of an Evans man. He was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide and running a red light. Prosecutors asked for, and obtained, a 12-year prison sentence for the man.
He will also have to serve four years probation, alcohol treatment, restitution and 500 hours of community service. The community service will be served by speaking about the consequences of substance abuse and drunk driving.
The man had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.281, which is four times the legal limit in Georgia, when his F-250 struck the side of a Honda Accord driven by a 19-year-old girl who was killed.
People sometimes suggest it is unrealistic to propose that drunk driving deaths could be reduced to zero. We suspect they probably have not suffered the loss of their daughter in such an accident.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "Man gets 12 years in fatal Evans crash," Valerie Rowell, March 7, 2013