The movement to stop the responsible consumption of adult beverages continues to strengthen. Anti-alcohol groups are spending tens of millions of dollars to convince the public that responsible adults should not drink beer, wine, or spirits at restaurants or in any situation prior to driving.
This “neo-prohibition” threatens our customers and the cultural dining experience.
The hospitality industry has consistently been at the forefront of the fight against drunk driving. We have supported hundreds of pieces of legislation to apprehend drunk drivers, increase penalties for those convicted, and continue to search for innovative new ways to combat the problem. Restaurants have also created initiatives to fight drunk driving, including voluntarily incorporating server training, designated driver programs, and responsibility messages.
Restaurants want adults to drink responsibly, drive safely, and come back to their restaurants again and again. As a result of these ongoing efforts, restaurants have made great headway in reducing alcohol related fatalities and have become one of the public’s most trusted partners in fighting drunk driving.
With the threat of drunk driving drastically reduced, the American roadways face a more dangerous hazard: distracted driving. While activists seem conveniently unaware of the primary cause of auto fatalities, many other segments of society are actively involved in addressing this rising risk.
Though traffic risks have changed significantly in the past several years, the public’s perception has not. Activist groups ignore current data and continue to push an anti-alcohol agenda, but their message misleads the public, media and legislators about the most prominent dangers on the roadways.
Distracted driving — not alcohol — is today’s biggest problem.
Find out more about the real threats to traffic safety at www.NegligentDriving.com.
Thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, traffic safety groups, and the hospitality industry, the nation now understands that drunk driving is a serious crime with deadly consequences. As a result, the problem has been reduced to what Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeals.”
Yet the traffic safety community continues to call for “education” campaigns, ignition interlocks, and roadblocks—all of which are public relations tactics, not enforcement. The real offenders will not be deterred by these superficial tactics; they need to be caught, punished, and treated for their problem.
Roadblocks Only Block Progress
In order to catch this “hard core,” police must forego roadblocks and instead rove the highways in search of the erratic driving typical of drunk drivers. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that “The number of DWI arrests made by the roving patrol program was nearly three times the average number of DWIs made by the checkpoint programs.” Clearly, roadblocks don’t work. Learn More
Against Ignition Interlocks for First Time DUI Offenders with Low BAC
In many states, drunk drivers who repeatedly break the law are required to install ignition interlocks on their cars. But state legislatures are steadily approving legislation aimed at first-time offenders, often drivers who are only one sip above the limit. Research shows that drivers who are one sip above the limit are in better condition to drive than those who are talking on a hands-free cell phone, speeding excessively over the posted limit, or driving drowsy.
This legislation is the first step of anti-alcohol groups toward their long-term goal of universal interlocks. While drunk drivers will — as they already do — find ways around this technology, millions of responsible social drinkers will be inconvenienced and will not invest in disabling their device (and it may become illegal to do so). As with other extreme drunk driving countermeasures, those who will respond to the new environment are those who were already responsible drivers.
Real Solutions to Reducing Drunk Driving
States need to implement mandatory offender-paid alcoholism screening and treatment. By the time a drunk driver is pulled over, he has already placed others in danger. Unless the underlying product abuse is dealt with, this “hard core” is not likely to learn its lesson.
Research going back over a decade agrees that roving patrols are far more effective than roadblocks at arresting drunk drivers. Unlike roadblocks, which randomly stop drivers (ensuring a very low arrest rate), roving or “wolf pack” patrols roam the streets looking for dangerous driving behavior. This suspicion-based procedure not only respects constitutional rights but also vastly increases arrest rates, since law enforcement is tracking down offenders, not waiting for drunk drivers to drive through a stationary roadblock.
ABI supports a multi-tiered system of sanctions that ensures those drivers who pose the biggest safety risk—drivers with very high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and multiple drunk driving convictions—receive appropriate punishment. In addition to stiff penalties, the system also encompasses extensive alcohol screening and treatment requirements, so that those drivers who have alcohol abuse problems will get the help they need to change their behavior.