DUI Awareness Information Center
Drunk and drugged driving are responsible for nearly half of all traffic fatalities, killing more than 10,000 people and injuring nearly 300,000 people in the United States each year. In 2011, law enforcement across the nation reported more than 1.2 million arrests for impaired or intoxicated driving. While the statistics are frightening, it might help to know that the frequency of alcohol- and drug-related car accidents is on the decline. It is believed that keeping the public informed of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has played a role in helping individuals make a conscious effort to avoid getting behind the wheel when inebriated.
National non-profit organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as well as local awareness and alcohol education programs focus their efforts on informing the public of the dangers of impaired driving. Additionally, these organizations provide information on how to find treatment for those seeking an escape from drug or alcohol addiction. If pulled over and suspected of DUI consult with a Maryland DUI lawyer to discuss your case and how to proceed.
Dangerous Habits and Repeat DUI Offenses
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average drunk driver has driven under the influence roughly 80 times prior to his or her first arrest, and national averages reveal that approximately one-third of all those arrested for DUI or criminally convicted of a DUI offense are repeat offenders. The rate of recidivism is alarming, especially taking into consideration the harsh penalties intended to deter individuals from driving while impaired.
As the number of offenses increases, the criminal and civil penalties increase, as well. Fines become more costly, terms of incarceration lengthen, licenses may not only be suspended or restricted but fully revoked, and individuals may be required to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. While the steps are intended to punish offenders and prevent further offenses, they do little to deter those with a serious alcohol or drug dependence problem.
Sometimes, a DUI occurs because one has a few more drinks than anticipated and underestimates just how impaired he or she has become, and that individual makes the reckless decision to drive. For these individuals, the penalties are often enough to prevent them from future drunk driving. Many times, however, a DUI is the result of a serious addiction.
Time for Intervention
When someone has repeated run-ins with the law because of drunk or drugged driving, it is often because of an underlying addiction, rather than merely a series of poor choices. Many repeat offenders need some form of intervention. While criminal penalties for a DUI conviction may include mandatory completion of alcohol safety training, further and more intensive therapy is often needed for those struggling with a serious addiction.
When an individual is unable to see his or her own problem, it is the responsibility of those closest to him or her — family, partner, friends, or coworkers — to address the situation and offer a means of help. Whether it involves counseling, alcohol education programs, or inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, seeking professional treatment is often the best way to combat a drinking or drug problem.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) lists several signs that alcohol consumption has surpassed casual drinking and become an illness. Indicators of alcoholism include neglecting other responsibilities in order to drink, drinking in dangerous situations, getting in legal trouble because of drinking, increased alcohol tolerance, withdrawal symptoms when sober, continued alcohol use despite negative consequences, and a desire to quit drinking but an inability to do so.
National Resources for Alcoholism Help and Information
Even when a person decides that change is needed, it is important to have the right resources available for information, treatment, and support.
Alcoholism Information: The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provides substantive information and resources on alcoholism, drug abuse, and drug dependence.
Finding Alcohol Treatment: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has an online Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.
Choosing Alcohol Treatment: This page provides information on how to evaluate and choose alcohol treatment programs.
But alcohol treatment is not the only route to take. There are also prevention services that work to prevent substance abuse in the first place, and recovery support programs that help individuals stay away from destructive behaviors. Alcohol programs can include:
- Helping young individuals avoid the onset of substance use and abuse
- Promoting healthy and drug-free lifestyles
- Outpatient care
- Residential/inpatient rehabilitation
- Detoxification and stabilization
- Medication-assisted therapy
Recovery Support Services
- Occupational therapy
- Job training
Successful substance abuse therapy comes from the recognition of one’s dangerous dependence upon alcohol or drugs. Admitting there is a problem is the first step to defeating a harmful addiction.
Getting to the root of the problem and helping those battling drug and alcohol addictions find the treatment they need to conquer their inner demons and achieve sobriety could potentially help lower DUI arrests and convictions nationwide. Assisting individuals overcome their substance abuse issues could help save not only the lives of those with drug and alcohol dependency problems, but also the lives of those they put in danger when they get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.