STUDY: New Report Wants to Reach Zero Drunk Driving Deaths

A new report by a science panel wants to eliminate drunk driving by raising taxes on alcohol purchases, lowering the legal BAC limit to .05 instead of .08, and enacting all-offender Ignition Interlock laws.

The report, Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities, says there are more alcohol-impaired driving deaths per year than deaths related to certain cancers, HIV/AIDS and drownings. Since 1982, one-third of all traffic fatalities have been related to alcohol.  Despite years of progress, alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) created the report with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report addresses all sectors involved with drunk driving laws, such as state, federal and local governments, municipalities, health care systems, and others. A couple of their calls to action include more DWI Courts and all-offender laws for Ignition Interlocks.

Mandatory Ignition Interlocks in All States

All-offender Ignition Interlock laws are currently in 30 states, D.C. and four counties in California. Every state has some form of Ignition Interlock law, but the most effective, according to multiple studies, are all-offender. This means anyone arrested for DUI or DWI at a BAC level of .08 needs to install an Ignition Interlock in their vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also supports all-offender Ignition Interlock laws in their annual reports to the states to improve drunk driving laws. Given the unfortunate rise in drunk driving deaths, Ignition Interlocks are needed now more than ever on our roadways.

Lowering the BAC Level to .05

The report also calls for all states to lower per se BAC levels to .05. Currently, only Utah has passed legislation to make a .05 BAC limit and won’t be effective until December 2018. All other states have .08 as the BAC limit.

NASEM suggests the federal government incentivize this change to state governments, and create robust media campaigns and enforcement efforts.

Raising Alcohol Taxes and Strengthening Prevention of Illegal Alcohol Sales

The report also recommended states increase their alcohol taxes and make alcohol less convenient to obtain. They propose doing this by reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in bars, restaurants and stores. NASEM also proposes stronger laws and enforcement to stop illegal alcohol sales, such as to minors or to adults who are already intoxicated.

NASEM is also asking health care systems and health insurers to “cover and facilitate effective evaluation, prevention and treatment strategies for binge drinking and alcohol use disorders.” This could include screening, brief intervention, referral to treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication-assisted therapy.

With this report, and others, publishing year after year urging stakeholders to take precedence on strengthening drunk driving laws, local and federal entities alike can make changes to current laws that leaves a safer place for all.

Enacting all-offender Ignition Interlock laws in all 50 states, and the possible push for other measures NASEM outlines, we could see a safer future on our roadways.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

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