Everybody has the right to choose the kind of life that they want, but they should be guided at every turn to choose a life that does force them into an early grave, a lifetime in prison, or the guilt of knowing that they have deprived an individual of the right to live. When a drunken driver causes damage or even death to any member of the society, this becomes a criminal offence. They choose to drink and drive knowing that driving under the influence of alcohol can only lead to negative consequences. The government of every country has a duty to correct negative behaviors based on the structured laws of the country. The government also has the responsibility to protect the victims of drunk driving, while attempting to force others to deviate from driving under the influence of alcohol. There is no doubt that first offenders driving under the influence of alcohol should be imprisoned as the end result of drunk driving is always horrifying.
Imagine a mother of a newborn baby driving home to family. She is sober and is conscious of the road, yet out of nowhere comes a drunken driver, who crashes into her car and takes her life. The chain of events caused by the accident does not stop with the death of the mother. In fact, it ends with an orphaned child who is deprived of the love of a parent. The truth may be that the driving who caused the accident is a first time drinker. Many people will argue that as a first time offender, leniency should be shown, but who showed leniency to the innocent mother? Who showed leniency to the orphaned child?
Kane (2012) points to the new statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2010 that shows that “more than two – thirds of the 10,228 drunken driving deaths involved drivers who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher. In addition, Kane (2012), points to the report by “Prevalence of High BAC in Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes” which supports the fact that the most frequently recorded BAC among all drinking drivers in 2010 was .18. This amount of alcohol in the blood stream is alarming as it is more than twice the legal limit in all fifty states of America and the District of Columbia. In essence, “there was one alcohol related death every fifty one minutes”. These statistics are horrifying and the country needs to take a clear stance against the careless and reckless driving that occurs when people drive under the influence of alcohol.
One may argue that everybody deserves a second chance at life, but the harsh reality is that second chances often lead to citizens believing that they will always escape the consequences of their actions. They will continue to drink and drive, and as a result, they keep the hospitals and the morgues in good financial standing, while the families are left to mourn. If a drunken driver faces imprisonment on his first offense, he rethinks his actions and tries not to makes the same mistakes twice.
The undeniable fact is that drunken driving, irrespective of the effect on others, is bad and no one should condone such acts. Advocates for drinking and driving argue that the same punishment cannot be meted out for heavy drinkers who drink and drive, and light drinkers who drink and drive. The harsh reality is that no one should drive after consuming any amount of alcohol, as studies show that alcohol impairs the judgment of people. Every day, almost thirty people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every forty - eight minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.(Impaired Driving Get Facts)
Driving under the influence of alcohol is not manslaughter. It is an intentional act of murder as everyone in the society has seen the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and still they drive under the influence. Walters (2009) points to Kari Kinnard’s views that the statistics show that “most drunken drivers who kill people have no previous convictions”. This lack of evidence to show that the drivers are repeat offenders, gives the drunken driver an opportunity to escape maximum penalty for murder. The fact that the act was committed before, makes death by drunken driving an act of murder and not manslaughter. The offender learnt on the first offence, that driving under the influence of alcohol causes dire results, yet, they repeat the offence which may be fatal. Should they not be charged with murder?
When alcohol gets into the brain, it impairs one’s judgment, vision, and reflexes. Therefore, a person’s ability to operate a vehicle is impaired, even if the driver does not feel any changes to his mood. In addition, medical researches show that one alcoholic beverage can impair a driver’s reaction time to a vehicle or pedestrian. For example, the driver who comes to a pedestrian stop sign will not be able to stop as quickly as one who is not under the influence of alcohol. In other words, the driver cannot respond to a dangerous situation in good time.
Alcohol has other deadly functions than the impact it has on the brain. These include: blurry vision, reduction in coordination skills, and limits the ability to judge distances, make sound judgments, concentrate. The more alcohol a person consumes, the less likely that person is to carefully assess a situation. With these negative consequences to drinking alcohol, people continue to consume alcohol and continue to cause dangers on the road. Even though, the cause of vehicular accidents is not always through the consumption of alcohol, the reason for the accident may not be the fault of the drunken driver. Consequently, the situation worsens because the drunk driver is impaired and loses power of the movement of the vehicle. In order to prevent accidents, the law should punish the drivers on their first offense.
In light of the negative effects of driving under the influence of alcohol, the government should lock away drunken drivers on their first offence and not on the second or third offence. Over the years, researchers found evidence to suggest that the majority of the accidents on the roads are caused by drunken driving, in many cases, the first offender pleas for mercy and suggests that the events will not repeat itself, but it comes back to haunt the innocent bystander. The mass media devotes much of its time educating the public about the dangers of driving while drunk, but the drunks often repeat the act. Firstly, with the knowledge of the dangers of drunken driving, no one should drive under the influence of alcohol.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offense by law, yet the drunken drivers break the law when he drives under the influence of alcohol. If the offender is not punished to the fullest extent of the law, the purpose of laws, rules, and governance in the society makes no sense. One can conclude then that drunken drivers have no regards for the laws in the country. Therefore, they should be charged accordingly in order to reduce the number of fatalities on the roads. One may say that imprisonment for the first offender is harsh. But ignore the law of the land is more serious. The truth, serves to detract others from committing the same offence.
The law serves to protect, but most people forget this when they face criminal charges against them when they commits wrongful act. The individual who drinks and drives will continue to do so, until he faces prison time. At this point, the guilty persons cry that the law is unfair to them. Nevertheless, they do not consider that their act of crime against the victims needs to law to protect them from recurrence of those who are injured. The drunken driver finds excuses for his actions, and begs for mercy at the hands of the law. However, the driver does not give any care to the victims who are suffering as a result of their actions.
Driving under the influence does not only cost a drunken driver his driver’s license, but it also causes the live of the driver or the innocent victims. The number of families that are forced to live with the grief of losing a love one to an untimely death is shocking. Many of the drunk drivers are teenagers, who party a lot and end up driving while they are intoxicated. Across the nation, law enforcement officers attempt to clamp down on the appalling number of fatalities each year. However, their actions and efforts are pointless are most offenders getting off lightly when they face their first offence. The legal age for alcohol consumption is twenty one, yet some drivers are under the drinking age, but they still consume enough alcohol to impair their judgment as they drive. Studies show that younger people are far more irresponsible than those who are older. This assumption leads one to link younger, intoxicated drivers to more accidents than older and more mature drivers.
In addition, driving while under the influence of alcohol is perilous to human life and the society at large. Some people may argue that everyone has the right to choose to drink at anytime and should not be imprisoned unless someone dies as a result an accident involving a driver who is drunk. The very thought of such excuses and presumptions are ridiculous and hypocritical. One can empathize with a drunken driver, and justify the actions of this person if they share a personal relationship.
The hypocrisy rears its head when these individuals who do not support first offenders going to prison, are the victims. They will change their thoughts to suit their personal need for revenge, when one analyzes such acts, it leaves the idea that it is okay to give a lesser charge to the person if there is a relationship, while the victims are lone in their time of grief. While every drivers has the right to consume alcohol; this right should only be violated the rights of those around them.
The debates over the fact that humans can make errors is one of the most popular points use to defend the “rights” of those who drive under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, one may head the argument that humans make mistakes. There is no doubt that human make mistakes, but in taking the life of someone and leaving their families to grieve cannot be deemed as a mistake or an error in judgment, especially if the error is inevitable. There is a direct link between drinking and intoxication which eventually leads to impaired judgments. So, how can one say that a drunken driver makes an error in judgment or a mistake when he or she drinks and gets behind the wheel of a car to drive? That act is simply irresponsible and has nothing to do with making a mistake or judgment. As such, it is argued that first offence is a mistake. Drivers should recognize that one cannot make a mistake with a human life, as life cannot be replaced. The mature concept then is to desist from drinking if there is even a remote possibility that the intoxicated person may operate a vehicle.
In conclusion, everyone has equal opportunities in life. It is not fair then for someone to take this right to life. It is the responsibility of the government and the society at large to protect the rights of the citizens to life. In drinking and driving, there is possibility of an accident that can deprive the citizens of the right to live. Drivers should therefore be mindful of the law that states: there should be no drinking while driving. In the case driving under the influence of alcohol, both the families of the victims and the families of the perpetrator grieve for the loss of the member of the family.
Drivers who drink and drive should stop to think about the effect of their actions on their families. The statistics for the number of death each year can be controlled. The problem of driving under the influence can be fixed. The key to fixing the problem is to get the drivers to appreciate the lives of others, so that they may desist from driving under the influence. However, these drivers insist on exercising their right to drink and drive; and as such the government should insist on punishing these first offenders as they would punish any other offenders.
Administrator (2013) Drunk Drivers Should Be Imprisoned On Their First OffenseFeatured. Wednesday, 19 June 2013. Web. Accessed June 12, 2014
Kane, Suzanne (2012) Most Drunk Driving Deaths Caused By Drivers with Twice Legal BAC
Limit, The Washington Post. HIGHGEARMEDIA.COM, Web. http://www.washingtonpost.com Accessed June 12, 2014
Impaired driving get facts Injury, prevention and cure (n.d) (n.a.) Web.
http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety Accessed June 12, 2014
Walters, Steven, (2009) The Journal Sentinel, Web. http://wwwjsonline.com/news/statepolitics