Legislation, government offices, enforcement agencies, and concerned civic groups have continually worked together to find ways to reduce the incidences that involve driving under the influence in our country. These combined efforts have provided some preventative solutions to stop people from driving under the influence. Here are a few of these strategies:
Victim Impact Panel (VIP)
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Victims Impact Panel originated in Oklahoma County in November 1989, patterned after a program which began in Oregon. Since then it has successfully branched into Tennessee, Kentucky, and Utah.
A Victim Impact Panel is described as a group of three or four victims who speak briefly about an impaired driving crash in which they were injured, or a loved one was killed or injured, and how it changed their lives. They do not blame or judge those who listen, they simply tell their stories.
VIP Utah commented that the purpose of the Victim Impact Panel is to provide an opportunity for the offender to see and hear the consequences of driving under the influence. These stories are told with the hope of changing behavior and reducing recidivism. The STOP DUI Victim Impact Panels have a 92% success rate in deterring recidivism and also providing therapeutic experiences for the participating victim speakers.
Recidivism is the tendency to relapse into a previous undesirable type of behavior and is common for people with drinking problems. Alcoholism is a serious issue that many Americans are facing. Resources are available for people who suffer from this addiction, and there are organizations whose main goals are to help people overcome their drinking problems.
Ignition Interlock Device
According to Utah Code, a DUI offender is required, as a condition of probation, only to operate motor vehicles that are equipped with ignition interlock devices. The person’s license will be suspended pending completion of the period with the interlock device. If the defendant had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.16 or higher, the court shall order the following (or describe on record why the order or orders are not appropriate): treatment, and one, or both of the following: ignition interlock system as a condition of probation, and home confinement through the use of electronic monitoring.
An Ignition Interlock Device (IDC) is an in-car alcohol breath screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a BAC over a pre-set limit of .02 (i.e., 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver’s seat, and is connected to the engine’s ignition system.
If the vehicle is able to start due to the driver having the correct BAC, the interlock device requires the driver to provide breath samples at random pre-set times while the engine is running. If a sample is not provided, or if the BAC exceeds the limit, the device will issue a warning, record the event and activate specific alarm systems (e.g., lights flashing, horn honking, etc.), until the ignition is turned off. The device is found effective in preventing a driver from using their vehicle when intoxicated.
Electronic monitoring is an option a first time DUI offender can be offered instead of jail time. This is decided by a judge after close verification of the offender’s circumstances. For example, jail time poses a serious risk to the person’s physical or mental state.. The first-time DUI offender will still pay the required fines and license suspension still applies.
For repeat offenders, electronic monitoring may be administered in addition to jail time, fines and license suspension.
Electronic monitoring is similar to house arrest in that the DUI offender is required to wear an ankle bracelet. The ankle bracelet is electronically tracked, recoding and transmitting a signal of the offender’s every move, day or night. The electronic sensor is linked by telephone lines to a main computer system which sends off a constant signal informing police of the offenders whereabouts.
Normally, the time spent wearing the electronic monitoring device is equal to the length of the jail sentence. Although there would be times or cases that wearing the ankle bracelet will be longer, this is dependent on the court decision. 24 hours of jail time may equal 15 days of electronic monitoring.
The distance the offender can go from where the receiver is placed is determined by the judge. If the offender exceeds the allotted distance from the receiver, the tracking system automatically sends a signal that tracks the duration of the interruption. If such a violation were to occur, a parole officer or monitoring agent checks into the incident verifying the reasoning behind the violation. If the reasoning behind the violation is not sufficient, the user might be subjected to house arrest. There are additional stipulations to the monitoring device that requires the offender to be home or at work for certain amounts of time throughout the day. If these times are not met, this would again count as a violation. If multiple violations occur the offender may be subject to additional sentencing.
While this device is highly trusted, there is a recently new electronic monitoring device that can be used in severe drunk driving cases called SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor). This device is used to monitor offenders whose probation requires that they remain alcohol-free. It is worn on the ankle or wrist and detects alcohol excretion from the skin by sampling the user’s sweat and measuring his or her blood alcohol content level. The device has effectively monitored over 20,000 offenders thus far.
Technological Advances in Transportation
Technology might be able to provide additional solutions to the continuing DUI problem. According to an article, automakers, universities and others are at various stages in the development of autonomous cars. For instance, General Motors has recently announced its “Super Cruise” system that uses radar and cameras to steer and stop the car. Cadillac will also have these features by the end of this decade. Not too far behind, Nissan has promised that it will also have an autonomous driving system by 2020.
Although these technologies are still in the pipeline, issues and concerns regarding the use of automated cars on national roads are being raised. One concern is the licensing requirements of the states. Another is insurance companies’ ways of determining who is at fault in self-driving car accidents. There are also questions on how highways will accommodate automated cars. Auto companies need to make sure that the car’s computer system is tamper-proof and cannot be hacked.
The article describes the innovation to be gradual. Navigant Research estimates that by 2035, majority of cars sold worldwide will be self-driving. Technology will initially start with self-parking cars, then a system to help driver navigate traffic jams, eventually leading to self-cruising on a highway. Initial offerings will be on luxury cars and then to mainstream brands.
These strategies are helping to prevent and reduce DUI’s around the country; however, choosing not to drive under the influence is the most effective way to keep our roads safe.
Christensen & Hymas advocates safe driving behavior and does not condone drunk driving. To learn more about legal remedies that are available for those affected by a DUI accident, call us at (801)506-0800 for a free initial consultation.
Image copy right to Wikimedia Commons