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The term "drunk driving," although widely used, is a bit misleading. Most states require a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .10 before a driver is considered legally intoxicated. Some states require a BAC of .08, although that is still well above the American Medical Association's recommendation of .05. The anti-drunk driving movement recognizes that the driving ability of most Americans is impaired long before their BAC reaches .10. In addition, many of these impaired drivers on the road are impaired as a result of drugs other than alcohol. The term "drunk driving" is intended to incorporate all forms of impairment.
Most anti-drunk driving programs have a
dual focus--to decrease the number of impaired drivers on the road, and to
provide services to those victimized by impaired drivers. Over 1,000 pieces of
legislation have been enacted within the last decade to help law enforcement,
prosecutors, judges and victim advocates respond more effectively to the drunk
driving problem. In 1984, Congress passed the federal "21" minimum
drinking age law, which is credited for saving thousands of young lives. The
constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints was upheld in 1990, clearing the way
for law enforcement officers to use this highly effective tool to detect drunk
drivers and educate the public. Victim Impact Panels have been in operation
since 1982, providing a forum for victims of drunk driving crashes to share
their stories with offenders who are mandated to attend Panels as part of their
sentences. The re-authorization of the Victims of Crime Act in 1988 required
that compensation programs which receive federal VOCA monies must compensate
drunk driving crash victims in the same manner as other types of crime victims.
Victim/Offender-Use Related: These crimes include those that are consequential to the ingestion of a drug by the victim or offender causing irrational or violent behavior.
This includes perpetration of a crime against a victim
by an offender, as well as self-victimization due to mood changes initiated by
substance use. Such crimes also include crimes committed by individuals
experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as high levels of anxiety and
irritability, and intentional ingestion of a drug to "relieve anxieties and
stimulate courage" in preparation for acts of violence (Goldstein, 1992, p.
Economic Related: Economic crimes
include those that are committed by drug users in order to support additional
drug use. These crimes may not be inherently violent, but may become violent.
The strongest indicator in classifying crimes of this nature is that the
offender committed the crime as a result of his or her compulsion to obtain
drugs (Goldstein, 1992, p. 462).
System Related: These include crimes
that are directly or indirectly related to the system of drug trafficking and
distribution. This includes violence resulting from dealings between drug
dealers, informers, law enforcement officials, etc. Murder as a means of
enforcing systemic codes, killing of informants, injury or death resulting from
disputes over drug possession, territory, etc. is included in this definition
(Goldstein, 1992, p. 462).
As the preceding information indicates, drug use and criminal behavior seem to be correlated. The relationship between the number of bookings/inmates and use of drugs perhaps signifies not only that drug use may precipitate criminal activity but, perhaps more significantly, drug users may place themselves at a greater risk for being apprehended. Under the influence of drugs, individuals may engage in more precarious behavior, thus increasing the likelihood that they will be detected and subsequently arrested.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Drugs and Crime Facts, 1991. Washington, DC. September 19, 1992.
National Institute of Justice, "Drugs & Crime 1990: Annual Report," in Research in Action: Drug Use Forecasting, Washington, DC. 1991.
Harrison, Lana and Joseph Gfroerer. "The Intersection of Drug Use and Criminal Behavior: Results from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse." Crime and Delinquency (1992), 38 (4): 422-443.
Goldstein, Paul J., Henry H. Brownstein and Patrick J. Ryan. "Drug-Related Homicides in New York: 1984 and 1988." Crime and Delinquency (1992), 38 (4): 459-476.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Crime in the United States, 1991." Washington, DC, August 30, 1992.
For additional information, please contact:
Drugs and Crime Data Center and Clearinghouse
RID-USA (Remove Intoxicated Drivers)
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