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March 24, 2015

National and Ohio drunk driving harms data for sentencing exercise

There are lots of sites worth checking out concerning the scourge of drunk driving, and this webpage from The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has lots of helpful links to lots of helpful data.  For example,this page has a really nice simple chart highlight that drunk driving death nationally in recent years have been around 10,000 per year, which is about 1/3 less than the yearly average a decade ago.  This decline in deaths arguably proves that tougher criminal laws work as this decline correlates with more states adopting .08% BAC as the legal limit AND with more states requiring ignition locks as punishment for DUI offenses.

But "only" 10,000 DUI deaths each year still means that, on average, more than 25 persons are killed by a drunk driver every single day in the USThis website with official Ohio highway stats reveals that Ohio has averaged more than 400 drunk driving deaths per year (meaning more than one per day).  As I mentioned in class, these number are only slightly lower than the total number of deaths from intentional homicide: roughly, the US has averaged about 14,000 murders and Ohio has averaged around 500 murders per year in recent years.  

Ohio's current penalties for drunk driving (called OVI) are effectively outlined on this webpage, and  Senator Madd, the new head of the Judiciary Committee, made reducing drunk driving deaths and injuries a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.  He also knows that, as explained on this MADD webpage, roughly "one-third of the drunk driving problem – arrests, crashes, deaths, and injuries – comes from repeat offenders.  At any given point we potentially share the roads with 2 million people with three or more drunk driving offenses.  Taking away their licenses isn’t enough; 50-75% of them drive anyway." 

Senator Madd is eager to work with any and everyone on legislation to make Ohio's roads and all its citizens safer.  He sees some potential merit in both the RID and TOUGH bills that have been proposed, but he is eager to get some additional input from fellow legislators about the best ways to move forward on these fronts.

March 24, 2015 in Class activities, Data on sentencing | Permalink


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At this point, I would not support either bill, as neither the overall drinking and driving problem. In our conversation, we should keep in mind the relative long term costs, attendant limitations, and unintended impacts of deterrence-based measures.
As we've read, there are often more fiscally sound and socially productive ways to lower the crime rate than incapacitation. The simplest answer isn’t necessarily the right one. Why is the focus seemingly limited to the 33%, rather than the 66%? Why do we so easily dismiss the potential efficacy of preventive mandatory education—in tandem with, or in place of, heightened penalties for first time offenders? For example, looking to increase awareness of the biological impacts of “drink driving” to deter the prevalence of “I’m ok to drive” perceptions among those of all ages and predispositions.
Similarly—considering heightened awareness surrounding the disproportionate impact of criminal penalties on vulnerable groups—I would advocate that we attempt to ensure that we don't target an “other" group as a presumptive scapegoat in fashioning legislation. We should avoid—whether purposefully or not—perpetuating the criminalization of marginalized groups, and rather let common sense and fiscal responsibility dictate that any substance to a proposal of this sort broadly take into account the underlying social causes of the behavior.
Additionally, as mentioned in class, economic interests would quite likely be antagonistic to any idea that impacts the cultural status quo. However, what is the moral impact of having a value proposition that avoids a more comprehensively effective option (in reducing costs and deaths) because of legislative aversion to changes that may require businesses to directly bear a proportion of the costs?

Posted by: Dilynn Roettker | Mar 25, 2015 12:15:59 PM

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