By Alan and Shonna Hammond
The penalties for drunk driving have made a positive impact against accidents involving alcohol. Credit for that impact can only be given to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). Since it’s inception in 1980, and almost devoid of assistance by similar organizations, their purpose has been to end drunk driving. Although they have come so far, there still remains a long road ahead. The lives of so many children have been cut short and many other kids have been left without mothers and fathers due to the ignorance and self-serving actions of drunk drivers and those that let them drive.
According to MADD, in most alcohol-related accidents, the driver responsible was not an alcoholic or alcohol abusers. Rather, they were social drinkers. From that statistic we can assume that in order to help combat drunk driving, we need to look not simply to those that appear brazenly drunk, but also to those that don’t necessarily seem to be under-the-influence. In other words, keep an eye on the amount of alcohol consumed by your friends. Here are some other common myths and facts that will help everyone to reduce and eventually eliminate drunk driving.
Myth: Beer and wine have less of an intoxicating effect than hard liquor such as bourbon, scotch and gin.
Truth: An ounce of alcohol is an ounce of alcohol, regardless of the drink in which it is contained. A 12-ounce bottle of beer is equal to a five-ounce glass of wine and a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.
Myth: A cold shower, exercise, coffee or other home remedies help a person to burn off the alcohol in their system.
Truth: There is absolutely nothing that can speed up the rate at which the human body processes alcohol. Alcohol is “burned off” at the rate of about one ounce per hour. So, four drinks (four beers, four shots of liquor, four glasses of wine) will take about four hours to process.
Impairment vs. Intoxication. There is a difference between impairment and intoxication. A person begins to become impaired from the first alcoholic drink or use of other drugs. Certain people don’t appear to be impaired, but in actuality, they are. A person’s judgement, coordination and behavior begins to become affected at low blood alcohol levels.
Intoxication is a legal determination of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at which a person is considered to be “legally drunk.” In most states the BAC at which a person is considered to be drunk is .08 percent; however, most people begin to become impaired well before reaching that point. Although not commonly known, it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drive while having any measurable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
As stated, MADD has made great strides in reducing drunk driving. Still, as late as 1999, there were 1.5 million arrests involving drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It is essential that these crimes be put into the proper criminal context for complete eradication of the epidemic to occur. Each of those 1.5 million people committed a violent crime. When MADD and its supporters succeed in attaching that proper stigma to the crime, another great stride will be achieved. The need to destroying drunk driving will still remain.
In addition to the facts contained in this article, MADD provides a wealth of other information ranging from statistics to strategies for keeping the impaired from driving to victim advocacy. The easiest way to find information about MADD is at www.madd.org . There, you can find the many ways in which the organization reaches out to all aspects of society in their quest. Supporting MADD is just one way parents and others can shield our children and families, indeed, ourselves, from a horrible crime.
Alan Hammond is a law enforcement official, writer and former educator. Shonna Hammond is a nationally certified teacher, writer and consultant. They can be reached in care of this publication or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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