The crime of drunk driving is commonly considered to be driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Countermeasures to alcohol-related road offense are considered within four categories: reduction of alcohol consumption by reducing its availability, separation of drinking and driving, apprehension and suspension of the drinking driver and prevention of the recurrence of drinking among the DUI offenders. The laws to reduce the intake of alcohol and subsequent DUI can take three forms. These include limiting the total consumption by regulating sales through the prohibition of distribution in certain locations, limiting drinking hours and price manipulation through excise taxes. On-premises bars can play a role in preventing DUI by designing information labels on their brands to discourage drivers from drinking heavily. It is the most direct way to prevent people from driving when they are already drunk. Similarly, bystanders and peers can reduce DUI offenses by persuading to use alternative transportation. The efforts to control the recidivism of DUI offenders can be categorized as deterrence, treatment, supervision, and incapacitation.
When implementing deterrence actions, severe penalties such as fines and imprisonment are commonly used. However, the effectiveness of jail terms has proven to be of limited effects. Most of the ex-convicts are repetitively apprehended as multiple DUI offenders. Although license suspension is the most preferred course of action, its effectiveness is an incomplete sanction. The ability of license suspension to control impaired driving is limited by the ease with which suspended operators can continue to drive having little fear of apprehension. The difficulty in supervising this driving prohibition through the enforcement of the license suspension penalty results in 75% of suspended DUIs continuing to drive. Moreover, the ease of driving while suspended results in approximately half of the DUI offenders not bothering to reapply for license reinstatement. For instance, in Oregon, approximately half of the offenders are still under five years after the expiry of their three month suspension period.
License suspension has failed to fully incapacitate the high-risk DUI offenders; therefore alternative action is directed on the offender’s vehicle. For example, in Oregon, there is the “Zebra Sticker” program which involves marking the license plates of the vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers. It is evident that the program is efficient at reducing the cases of driving under suspension. In the same way, the Ohio State has seen a reduction in DWI related offenses following the enforcement of the law for impounding and immobilization of vehicles of multiple DUI offenders for up 6 months. The law is still applicable even after the period following its return to the offender.
Apparently, the failure of license suspension in deterring repetitive offenders has led to the development of special education and treatment programs for drunk drivers. Initially, in comparison to long-term licensing, treatment programs showed that they were less effective in reducing crash involvement. However, later studies suggested that these programs reduced alcohol-related crashes when the suspension period was under control. Illustratively, an extensive meta-analysis of 215 independent evaluations of educational and treatment programs found an average reduction of 8% and 9% in DUI recidivism and alcohol-related crashes respectively. On the other hand, licensing sanction alone was associated with the reduction of non-alcohol crashes.
In addition, the PARC (preventing alcohol-related convictions) curriculum is a theoretical approach to preventing DUI recidivism. It focuses on ensuring that the participants can control their driving. PARC teaches about making a decision prior to driving to a drinking event rather than controlling alcohol consumption after arrival to the event. These decisions aim at limiting the possibility of drinking and driving. On the other hand, the traditional curriculum aims at avoiding driving after drinking. An assessment of records collected in Florida suggests that offenders under the PARC curriculum had 1 or 2 years lower recidivism rate than the participants in the traditional units. Another popular alternative is the installation of an alcohol safety interlock device. It prevents the vehicle from starting when an operator has a BAC above .02 or .03. These devices require that the driver have low alcohol breath before starting the car. However, their elective use is still low. Moreover, drinking habits increase when the interlock period has expired. During the first 12 months following the conviction, the drivers with interlocks installed on their vehicles had a lower recidivism rate. However, within the following 12 months when the driving privileges had been restored; the rates of DUI offense were essentially identical. In other words, there are significant reductions in recidivism when the interlock is installed but no differences after the device are removed. In addition, the number of offenders who agree to have the device installed on their vehicles is few. Illustratively, in Mexico, where the drivers used vehicles with the device, the recidivism rate was lower than 7.1%. After the interlock was removed, the exposure to DUI offenses increased to 4.9%.
Further, the relationship between blood alcohol and the risk of DUI offenses are exponential. The risk is higher at blood alcohol levels of between 0.08% and 10%. Most recent estimates for the USA indicated that the relative risk of involvement in a single crash increased nine times in the BAC range from 0.05 to 0.09, especially among the drivers between 16 and 20 years old. Therefore, laws that prohibit selling alcohol to minors in certain locations can significantly reduce fatalities associated with drunk drivers.
In general, lowering the BAC legal threshold is accompanied by a significant lowering of alcohol-related crashes. Based on the analysis of its effect conducted in 19 jurisdictions on nighttime crashes, the law had a net effect of reducing single-vehicle fatal crashes by 5.2% in the US. The efficacy of limiting BAC in preventing DUI is much higher in the States that have checkpoints to monitor the sobriety of the drivers. Administering license revocation laws also boost the effectiveness of this law.