A discussion of the unintended and negative consequences of the current catalog of anti-DUI laws is seldom found in the print or electronic media, nor has there been a concerted effort on the part of government or private organizations to research and quantify these effects. As a result, certain of the following remarks are anecdotal rather than being based on actual research results.
“Hit and run, leaving the scene”
Persons who might otherwise assume responsibility for an accident or render assistance to accident victims are intimidated by the possibility of being found guilty of “drunk driving,” even if they had drunk very little and were not directly involved in causing the accident. Consequently, they do not stop or render assistance.
“Attempts to elude”
We have read of threefold increases in drivers attempting to outrun police. This increase corresponds with the ratcheting downward of legal BACs and the ratcheting upward of DUI penalties. It has been reported in more than one source that one in four high speed pursuits results in a serious accident, often involving innocent bystanders.
“Avoidance of needed medical treatment”
For fear of being reported to police or being charged at the scene of an accident for DUI, people are deliberately leaving an accident scene, injured, and not reporting for treatment until there is no likelihood that they could be charged with DUI. This runs counter to the well-proven practice that immediate injury treatment is the most effective and the most likely to prevent loss of life.
The segment of the population most effected, and most intimidated by the current avalanche of DUI laws is not the alcoholic or hardcore drinking crowd. It is that group of people who might patronize eating and drinking establishments, community festivals, company picnics, and related hospitality businesses, and who conduct themselves in a responsible manner. The difference is, with .08% BACs and job threatening sanctions, they are now afraid to participate in this type of social activity with friends and relatives.
The businesses and organizations that cater to and sponsor these activities suffer accordingly in lost income and lost support.
“Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities”
With the decrease in alcohol-related, motor vehicle accidents has come an increase in alcohol-related pedestrian and bicycle accidents. This is not to suggest that society is better off putting these people in automobiles. However, the net result of the current DUI policies is the partial exchange of one type of accident for another.
“Misallocation of public resources”
Intimidating, apprehending, adjudicating, and jailing persons who are not serious hardcore offenders takes valuable resources away from locating, stopping, and treating the persons who are most likely to cause a DUI-related accident. The system can only process and accommodate so many people. The choice is to focus on those who are causing the problem, or severely punish the general population that crosses an arbitrary BAC threshold.
“Inequitable personal consequences”
The “one size fits all” and “hang ’em from the highest tree” mentality that dominates current anti-DUI strategies does not fairly accommodate the diversity of circumstances involved with DUI convictions. A high risk, accident-prone, repeat offender may view a DUI conviction as one of life’s little inconveniences and a chance to live off the county for 30 days. Conversely, a well-educated, successful employee and family man might lose his job, future employment opportunities, and reputation for a one-time technical violation of a BAC standard based on politics and platitudes.