Background of the study
The content of alcohol in the blood stream popularly known as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the main source of evidence that the police present to the courts to decide if or not an individual has been driving while drunk. The BAC level is tested by the use of an ‘alco-blow’ device known as a breathalyzer, blood and urine tests conducted in clinical facilities. High amounts of alcohol in the blood system may affect proper driving as drunken persons seem to be oblivious of the danger that they expose themselves and other road users by driving under alcohol influence. A lot of the accidents that are often reported on the roads are a consequent of human error. A significant number of these accidents are caused by drunk drivers who ignore plea for appointing designated people to drive them home.
The city of Sacramento in California has been experiencing a series of fatal road accidents just like many other cities in the United States. In a move to reduce this trend, it adopted the blood alcohol content law passed by the United States government. It is believed that alcohol consumption up to a certain limit may affect the capability of people to drive properly. This was one of the measures that the United States enacted in order to curb the alarming rate of accidents caused by drunk drivers. The United States government sets this limit at .08%. The law is enforced by the traffic police who monitor and inspect people who are driving on the roads.
Objective of the study
The study intends to find out if the blood alcohol content law as enforced in Sacramento has had an influence on the number of road collisions experienced in the city. It seeks to determine if the increased alcohol related arrests have indeed led to changes in the number of fatal accidents associated with drunk driving.
Significance of the study
The study will provide further insight into the effectiveness of legislation made in the United States. It will also add to the existing research work done on the topic of road collisions. It will be an instrumental information tool to all stakeholders ranging from road users to the government.
Review of Literature
In Sacramento, it is against the law to drive after indulging in the use of drugs or alcohol. The recommended blood content for driving is below 0.08 percent. Anyone found driving above this percentage faces legal action from the court and the DMV as well. This must be avoided at all costs because for commercial drivers who operate heavy tracks, such mistakes may lead to lose of the driving license. This generally means loss of job for. Failure to request a DMV appeal within ten days of arrest, driving privileges is lost for a period of six months.
Other types of penalties involved in the Dui charge include jail time, probation, vehicle impoundment, fines and installation of an ignition interlock device into your vehicle. These convictions may also result in points being accrued on one’s driving record and increased insurance rates. This may require a strong qualified lawyer in defence of these serious accusations which leads one into too much spending.
The formula below was used to calculate the estimate the highest concentration of alcohol in the blood. The formula is known as the Widmark formula.
EBAC = 0.806. SD. 1.2 - (MR .DP)
where 0.086 is body water contains in the blood. SD stands for the total number of standards liquids having ten ethanol grams. The factor that converts from grams to Swedish standards is 1.2. BW stands for a constant for body and water. It is known to be 0.58 in men and 0.49 in women. Wt represents the body weight in kilograms and MR represents the metabolism constant estimated at 0.017. DP represents the drinking period (hours). Ten is a factor that converts the resulting figure to per mileage.
In the formula, a higher rate of elimination is demonstrated in females than males. A higher percentage of fat in the body is exhibited in females than males. Averagely men are heavier than women. The water content in the body system is not responsible for the complete dissolution of alcohol. This is because alcohol does not have the property of dissolving in fatty tissues. When this happens, a significant quantity of alcohol is temporarily taken away from the blood stream and stored briefly in fatty tissues. This gives the reason why most alcohol content calculations us the weight of individuals but not the water content in their system. Research shows that presence of bubbles in sparkling wine may accelerate alcohol intoxication by speeding its flow to the blood stream. In most calculations, the blood alcohol content is expected to be more in men as compared to women.
Traffic crashes relating to alcohol in Sacramento are not caused by alcohol itself. There is evidence that shows that alcohol has adverse effects on skills related to driving. Alcohol completely paralyses skills needed for driving, such as reaction time, vision, the ability to divide attention and judgement. Generally alcohol intoxication reduces the overall driving performance. Another evident fact in Sacramento is that there are some sober drivers who usually crash in similar ways just like drunken drivers. Both of these groups have a lot of young people especially male, and single. They suffer from drug and alcohol related problems. They are characterised by hostility, physical aggression and other unwanted personal traits and attitudes.
When sober, drunk drivers do not become model drivers. Even in a sober state, drivers who sometimes take alcohol are at the risk traffic collisions. A technique that illustrates this situation is called the responsibility analysis technique. Vehicle crash reports were examined without information on driver’s alcohol content. The findings of this research indicate that there is a high level to which each driver was responsible for their own crash. In the total traffic crashes encountered in Sacramento, 34-43% are estimated to be from sober drivers compared to 74-90% of alcohol influenced drivers. An extensive study in multitude states indicate that sixty eight percent of sober drivers and ninety four percent of drunk drivers were responsible for these crushes. According to the rate of drinking, drivers who intoxicate themselves are classified into three major categories. These are the normal drivers, the high risk drivers, and finally the alcoholics who are more dangerous.
The hypothesis being tested is considering whether the enforcement of the BAC law in Sacramento has resulted in a decline in the number of road collisions reported in the city. The point that is of at utmost importance and needs to be investigated is actually if the enactment and subsequent adoption of the blood alcohol content law in Sacramento has an effect on the number of accidents occurring in the city.
The information used for this research will be gathered from predominantly secondary sources. There are many existing records and statistics of road accidents that are available for public use. Some of this information can be retrieved from state agencies and organizations or relevant stakeholder research work.
The relationship being tested can be analyzed by using a simple mathematical function which is illustrated as follows:
R= f(d) where R is the number of road collisions reported, and
d is the number of drunk-driving arrests made as a result of enforcement of the law
The above function sets to find out whether the numbers of road collisions that occur on the roads are actually affected by the enforcement of the blood alcohol concentration law by the city. In this case, changes in R depend on changes occurring in d. Therefore, R is known as the endogenous variable while d is the exogenous variable. This means that changes in d affect the value of R but d is in itself independently determined.
The positive effect of the blood alcohol content law is evident with the fact that in 2011, only 8 fatal accidents were recorded in Sacramento-11 accidents less than the ones recorded in the previous year (2010). This showed that proper enforcement of the BAC law can be an effective tool for reducing road carnage. This implies that there is an inverse relationship existing between the number of road collisions occurring and the enforcement of the law.
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