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Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol


Driving under the influence of alcohol is a common practice in all countries where alcohol consumption is legal. This behavior has emerged as an important issue affecting road safety over the past few decades. This paper discusses the issue of drunk driving and its effects. It begins by highlighting how drinking impairs the driver, therefore making him unfit to drive. The paper shows how drink driving leads to road accidents that may result in fatalities. It also has a negative economic impact on the individual and the country as a whole. The paper proposes public awareness campaigns and clear laws and penalties for drunk driving as solutions to the problem of driving under the influence.

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Driving under the influence of alcohol has emerged as an important issue affecting road safety over the past few decades. Approximately one of our every five driver in the US involved in a fatal accident is found to have some alcohol concentration in his/her blood (Yadav & Miwako, 2015). In spite of the obvious danger that drink-driving poses, people continue to engage in the dangerous habit of drinking while under the influence.

Wolff (2013) notes that drink-drivers continue to drive even when they have very high Blood Alcohol Concentration levels. This behavior exposes more people to the risks associated with a DUI. This paper will discuss the issue of driving under the influence of alcohol with a focus on the effects of alcohol on the driver, the effects of drink-driving and how drink-driving can be stopped.

How Alcohol affects the Driver

Alcohol is an enjoyable substance that serves an important role in the society. People use it for enjoyment purposes and it is often consumed to help in relaxation and in celebrations. However, this substance has many toxic effects on the consumer. It might lead to intoxication and reduce the ability of an individual to reason properly. The WHO (2015) documents that alcohol leads to impairment by either depressing or stimulating the brain. The negative effects of alcohol on a driver increase with the increased consumption of alcohol. Wolff (2013) reports that there is “a clear relationship between increasing alcohol consumption and risk of a road traffic accident” (p.42). This has some significant implications for a driver.

Alcohol consumption can cause the person to make poor judgment on various road related issues such as sticking to the speed limit. Sonja (2006) reveals that most of the individuals charged with drink driving are not even aware that their BAC is above the legally accepted level.

They feel sober and are unaware that the alcohol will have an adverse effect on their driving. Alcohol also increases the reaction time of the driver causing him to take more time to engage in various driving operations such as braking or turning to avoid hitting an object. The visual sharpness of the driver is also decreased and his/her vision is poorer than that of drivers who have not consumed alcohol. Drunk drivers often drive at high speeds due to the poor judgment caused by alcohol and they are likely to run off the road or crash into fixed roadside objects.

Impacts of Drink-Driving

The most devastating effect of driving under the influence of alcohol is that it increases the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash. A report by the World Health Organization (2015) acknowledges that driving while drunk is an important factor influencing the risk of a road traffic crash in all countries that allow alcohol consumption. People who drive while under the influence of alcohol have a significantly higher risk of being involved in a road accident than sober drivers. Research indicates that in developed countries, including the US, over 20% of drivers who die in car crashes have excess alcohol in their blood (WHO, 2015). Drinking while under the influence has a worse impact on the road safety of low-income and middle-income countries. Yadav and Miwako (2015) document that 33-69% of fatally injured drivers in these countries have some alcohol content in their blood.

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The accidents caused by drivers who were on the road while under the influence of alcohol also have an economic impact. The loss of life causes the country to lose valuable taxpayers. In case a person survives the crash, high medical costs might be incurred. The crashes also lead to the damage of property, including the vehicle involved in the accident. The WHO (2015) estimates that drink-driving crashes in the US cost the country $1.1 billion each year. Countries therefore incur significant financial losses due to drunk driving.

How to Stop Drunk Driving

Considering the significant negative effect of driving while under the influence of alcohol, it would be important to come up with ways to reduce incidents of driving under the influence. Drunk driving can be reduced by increasing public awareness on the dangers of this habit. In most societies, alcohol consumption is a socially acceptable behavior. Campaign efforts should be engaged in to show the public why drinking under the influence is an anti-social behavior that should be avoided. Public awareness can be raised using mass media campaigns. According to Yadav and Miwako (2015), media campaign that emphasized the consequences of alcohol-induced driving led to a significant decrease in the number of alcohol-related road accident.

The government should come up with laws that clearly define what level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is illegal and the penalties to be imposed on drivers who are drunk. Most drunk drivers engage in this behavior since the consequences are not severe enough to serve as a deterrent (Kimler & Humphreys, 2013). Law enforcement officers should be vigilant in identifying and arresting individuals engaged in drunk driving.

At the same time, the legal system should be swift to enforce penalties on people charged with DUI. In addition to this, police should maintain high visibility enforcement of drink-driving laws to deter offenders. Research by Sonja (2006) indicated that when drivers perceived the chance of being stopped by the police and charged for DUI as being very small, they were likely to continue driving while under the influence. However, when the drivers are aware that the law enforcement system is strict and dedicated to imposing heavy penalties for drunk driving, they are less likely to engage in this activity.

Implementing these measures will lead to a decrease in the number of people driving under the influence. This will have a positive impact on road safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) declares that the deaths caused by drink driving are preventable. By keeping drunk drivers off the roads, these deaths can be stopped and the safety of millions guaranteed annually.


This paper set out to discuss driving under the influence of alcohol, its effects and how this risky behavior can be stopped. The paper began by noting that alcohol drinking is a socially acceptable habit that has some positive benefits. However, drinking has some effects on the individual. The paper has shown that drinking renders the individual unfit to drive. Drinking under the influence increases the risk of engaging in a road accident and this can lead to fatalities. Road accidents caused by drink drivers have a negative impact on the economy of the country. Safety conscious people should therefore avoid drinking while under the influence and encourage their friends to avoid this risky behavior.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Policy Impact: Alcohol Impaired Driving. 

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Kimler, B., & Humphreys, K. (2013). Losing Your “License to Drink”: The Radical South Dakota Approach to Heavy Drinkers Who Threaten Public Safety. Brown Journal of World Affairs, 20(1), 267-279. Web.

Sonja, F. (2006). Motives behind risky driving – driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. 

Wolff, K. (2013). Driving under the influence of drugs. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Web.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2015). Why is a drinking and driving programme necessary? Web.

Yadav, R., & Miwako, K. (2015). A systematic review: effectiveness of mass media campaigns for reducing alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1-17. Web.

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