Social Policy Issue Drinking and Driving Term Paper

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Drinking and Driving

Cases of alcohol abuse in America have affected the people one way or the other. Every person has been affected by the cases of one or other relatives, friends or loved ones. Every one is waging a war against substance abuse and to bring back the addicts to normalcy and sobriety. We have been hearing shocking stories about American public in general and young populace in particular getting hurt, injured, maimed and dead due to excessive drinking and its dangerous effects that includes drunk driving. Stories of college students in different states made headlines when they were found dead after binge drinking. The issues that have surfaced with force are that of excessive drinking rather than simple drinking. Most prople including young and under age group have been found to drink prodigous amount of alcohol and getting hurt one way or the other. These drinking binmges have resulted in a number of accidents due to drunk driving. Some times the drunken person gets hurt, sometimes others get hurt due to rash driving and sometimes the property and vehicles get damged or maimed.

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Term Paper on Social Policy Issue Drinking and Driving Assignment

Considering the gravity of situation it is necessary to look at the causes of addiction also. Mostly, a spiritual weakness, emotional dependence or lack of it, family problems, loneliness, and many other causes cause people to get addicted to alcohol. Upbringing and social conditions also seem to be a cause of addiction. Familial structure or broken families also seem to result in a problem. Some people drink excessively for pleasure or some drink it for no reason at all. Addictive and excessive drinking has become a serious problem for all. "Adolescent alcohol use is one of the most difficult behaviors to change because alcohol use is so ingrained in the U.S. culture. Adolescents choose to consume alcohol, not just because of personal characteristics, such as personality type or level of social skills, but also because it is a part of daily life in their communities and, for many youth, in their homes (Wagenaar and Perry 1994). As Wagenaar and Perry indicate in their theoretical model (1994), numerous social and environmental influences affect adolescents, including messages they receive from advertisements, community practices, adults, and friends about alcohol" (Komro & Toomey, 2002).

The alcohol industry and their advertisement campaigns also get a lot of flak for making drinking an attractive feature for young and adults alike. Critics argue that even the advertisement for beers and alcoholic products feature young people chilling out in a beach location or a dance party or other activities that today's youth find really alluring. Advertising professional and industry leaders defend their position that they do not directly target youth and they do not even cast models younger than 25 years in their advertisements. Whatever the position of industry pundits, the fact is that these ads are attractive enough for the youth and adults alike. Also to blame is the change in the way TV is viewed as most young people now have their own TV sets and they can watch whatever they want to.

Some people think that binge drinking used to be a part of the society but it was never blatant and in-you-face like it is today and they blame it on Internet and free flow of information or misinformation to people of all ages. Today youth and adults not only indulge but they flaunt it on their web sites and blogs.

These days movie stars, sports stars and even politicians make headlines when they are caught driving under the influence of alcohol. A little over indulgence have caused shame for many celebrities and their stories made headlines. Even though these incidences show that the celebrities were caught but at times they can also be counter productive as people consider these celebrities their role models and follow their lifestyles blindly. In past some celebrities have come out in the open and have apologized for their rash behavior in public setting an example that drinking and driving can be problematic.

Consequences

Health Hazards: It is known to everyone that excessive and addictive drinking can cause health hazards. The effects of excessive use of alcohol are known to every one that it may cause damage to Liver or other parts of the body. Relation of heart diseases and alcohol consumption has also been proved by research in the field of medicine.

Traffic Accidents: More tragic consequences of drinking come in the form of traffic accidents. Drunk drivers not only put their own life in danger but they also endanger lives of others. Statistics of drunken driving related accidents portray a very grim picture. A majority of traffic accidents in America involve drunken driving. "Drunk drivers killed more than 16,000 people in 1997. Preliminary figures for 1998 are about the same. Although alcohol-related traffic fatalities decreased 32% from 1987 to 1997 - a reduction due largely to stricter laws passed over the last decade - there is more work to be done" (Mejeur, 1999).

Problems for Youth: In the age bracket of 15-20 most deaths are the result of traffic accident and a majority of these traffic accidents have involved drinking. Even though drunk driving has been found in adults but this 15-20 or under 21 age bracket has been equally problematic when it comes to drunk driving. Research has been done in this regard and the blood alcohol content (BAC) of those involved in fatal accident were carried and results shocked the nation that in at least a quarter of the cases blood alcohol content (BAC) was.08 or higher. Also researches suggest that young age drunk driving habits could stay with the person in the adult age and could remain a potential for danger or harm. The trends, figures and researches shock us more because under age group is not even allowed to drink by law much less drunk driving. "According to statistics from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 1,400 college students die from alcohol-related deaths each year including motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, that number has remained constant even though both high school and college-age drinking has decreased" (Boulard, 2005).

Financial Losses: People not only hurt themselves physically but they also hurt their finances. Serious accidents also cause damage to the vehicles even if the person escapees any injury. At times drunk drivers also have to pay penalty for drunken driving offence in certain states. In case of teenagers parents have to bear the financial burden of their irresponsible behavior. Some times licenses of the drivers also get cancelled. "A teenager can face fines for alcohol consumption, which leaves the parent of the underage drinker financially responsible in most cases. An alcohol-related driving offense will affect the insurance rates of teen drivers for years afterward. The Division of Motor Vehicles imposes a mandatory insurance surcharge that takes immediate effect, which can amount to as much as $3,500. Commonly, automobile insurance is also canceled, only to be repurchased at the highest rates" ('Teach Teens', 2002).

Current Laws

Earlier discussion shows that drunken driving has become a social problem. Whenever there is a social problem it is tackled by laws and legislations. There are many laws in place right now in the country both at the Federal and State levels. These laws, programs and policing efforts have evolved overtime. Some of the important laws are as:

Zero Tolerance: In almost all of the states laws exist that legitimize drunk driving for under-21 age group with 'zero tolerance'. Zero tolerance means that this age group cannot have more than.02 blood alcohol content (BAC) while driving. Many states have successfully implemented these standards as a result of which the number of accidents has reduced considerably over the years. The victory of law depends on it successful implementation. The States that fail in implementing these laws fall short in controlling the damage that drunk driving could cause. The threshold level for adults is 0.08% BAC and it can be considered the nationwide standard.

Keg Registration: Keg registration laws are also in place in many sates to counter teenage binge drinking at parties. These keg registration laws are of varying strictness in different States to keep a check on who buys what for whom. It functions in different ways in different states. People are generally required to show identification and fill out a form providing details of where the keg is going. The tracking numbers are placed on kegs to keep track of the destinations as most of the time kegs end up in parties where minors or under age drinkers are present.

Distribution: There are laws in place that make distribution of alcohol to any one under the age of 21 a class one misdemeanor. These laws put hurdles in the way of easy and open distribution and thus restrict under age drinking problem.

Sobriety Roadblocks: Sobriety roadblock is an attempt by different states to stop vehicles to check if they have anything to drink or if they are too drunk… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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