Ohio State Highway Patrol Impaired Driving The danger on Ohio roads
A national epidemic • “We are in the midst of a national epidemic,” declared former United States Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta in an April 2005 press release that highlighted the nation’s highway traffic crash problem. • Each year, over 40,000 people are killed and 2.7 million people are injured in nearly six million traffic crashes across the country. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group four through 34 in the United States. • People in this age group are as likely to die in a traffic crash as by suicide and homicide combined.
In the United States… • Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group four through 34 in the United States. • Three in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related traffic crash. • At night, one in seven drivers is impaired. • Economists at Harvard University estimate that between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., one in four drivers have been drinking. • Less than one percent of self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving results in an arrest. • Traffic safety countermeasures can reduce alcohol-related traffic crashes by 10 to 24 percent.
In Ohio… • One person is injured every 48 minutes and one is killed every 19 hours in an alcohol-related traffic crash (2001-2005). • One in three traffic deaths are alcohol-related (2001-2005). • One-third of alcohol-related crashes occur in just six large metropolitan counties (2001-2005). • Alcohol-related fatalities have increased 26 percent (from 2001 to 2005). • Impaired motorists drove an estimated 3.8 billion miles on Ohio roads, an average of 2 million miles per day (2001-2005). • Nearly 250,000 Ohio drivers were convicted of OVI; 44 percent were repeat offenders (2001-2005). • 33,000 habitual offenders (five or more OVI convictions) account for 12 percent of all OVI convictions in the state. • Impaired driving cost state and local economies a combined $4 billion (2001-2005).
Three indisputable truths • Here are three indisputable truths about the danger impaired drivers bring to Ohio families on our state’s roads: • One - Alcohol-related traffic crashes affect every county in the state; • Two - The severity of alcohol-related traffic crashes is on the rise; and • Three - Nearly one-third of the impaired driver threat is concentrated in just six of the heavily traveled metropolitan areas of Ohio, which include Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, and Summit counties.
Impairment • Many impaired drivers do not appear drunk. • Research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair the skills involved in driving, but the persistent notion that the problem is predominantly one of drunk drivers has allowed many drinking drivers to decide they are not part of the problem. • “Impaired driving” is a more accurate and precise description of what is commonly referred to as “drunk driving.”
Effect of impairment on driving skills • The probability of a crash increases at any BAC higher than zero. • At a BAC as low as 0.02 percent, alcohol affects driving ability and crash likelihood. • The probability of a crash begins to increase significantly at 0.05 percent BAC and climbs rapidly after about 0.08 percent. • For drivers with BACs above 0.15 percent on weekend nights, the likelihood of being killed in a single-vehicle crash is more than 380 times higher than it is for non-drinking drivers.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) • BAC describes the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood expressed as weight per unit of volume. • For example, at 0.10 percent BAC, there is a concentration of 100 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. • For most legal purposes, however, a blood sample is not necessary to determine a person’s BAC. It can be measured much more simply by analyzing exhaled breath. • Driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent is a crime in Ohio.
How many drinks does it take to reach significantly impairing BACs? • The effects of alcoholic drinks vary greatly because the rate of absorption and BACs attained vary from person to person due to such factors as weight, amount of fat tissue, and stomach contents.
Is beer or wine less impairing than hard liquor? • Impairment is not determined by type of drink but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. • There is a similar amount of alcohol in such standard drinks as a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, and 1.25 ounces of 80 proof liquor. • Beer is the most common drink consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes.
Underage impaired driving • Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risks are substantially higher when they do. This is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) and is thought to result from teenagers' relative inexperience with drinking and driving and with combining these activities. • All 50 states and the District of Columbia have established lower blood alcohol thresholds that are illegal per se for drivers younger than 21. Federal legislation enacted in 1995 that allowed for the withholding of highway funds played a role in motivating states to pass such laws. Research indicates such policies reduce nighttime fatal crashes in this age group.
Goal of impaired driving laws • Ohio laws making it illegal to drive with high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) serve as the cornerstone of all efforts to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. • The goal of the law is to serve as a deterrent.
Drug impaired driving • Senate Bill 8 went into effect on August 17, 2006. This landmark legislation established per se limits of illicit and illegal drugs of abuse that are to be used when determining if someone is driving under the influence of drugs. • The bill also expanded current OVI laws to include a definition of drugs of abuse and these per se limits. • Ohio is now one of just a few states in the United States with similar legislation.
Importance of deterrence and enforcement • Most impaired drivers are never stopped. • Part of the success of alcohol-impaired driving laws depends on deterring potential offenders by creating the public perception that apprehension and punishment of offenders is likely. • Research has shown that the likelihood of apprehension is more important in deterring offenders than is the severity of the punishment. • The key to creating this perception is enforcement. • Enforcement efforts must be sustained and well publicized and create a realistic threat of apprehension.
Sobriety Checkpoints • Law enforcement can use checkpoints to stop drivers at specified locations to identify impaired drivers. • All drivers, or a predetermined proportion of them, are stopped based on rules that prevent police from arbitrarily selecting drivers to stop. • Checkpoints are a very visible enforcement method intended to deter potential offenders as well as to catch violators. If checkpoints are set up frequently over long enough periods and are well publicized, they can establish a convincing threat in people's minds that impaired drivers will be apprehended -- a key to general deterrence. • The purpose of frequent checkpoints is to increase public awareness and deter potential offenders, resulting in the ideal situation in which there are very few offenders left to apprehend.
License Suspensions • Laws providing for the suspension or revocation of licenses, like in Ohio, have been shown to reduce the subsequent crash involvement of drivers who are convicted of alcohol offenses. Even after the suspension, the effects of this sanction are sustained. • Although it is known that many suspended drivers continue to drive, they tend to drive less and perhaps more carefully so as to avoid apprehension. • License suspension has also led to a general reduction in fatal crashes in states where the threat of this sanction has been made more certain through laws that provide for administrative license suspension. • Ohio’s on-the-spot (administrative) license suspensions require progressively tougher penalties with each additional conviction. The administrative license suspension is for motorists who fail or refuse to take a blood-alcohol test. Motorists who refuse a test and are later acquitted must serve the entire suspension.
Final thoughts • Over two million miles are driven by impaired motorists every day, and their poor choices severely threaten the well-being of every citizen in this state. • Fatalities caused by impaired drivers are a potential tragedy for each of us. • Criminals who choose to drive impaired, and put innocent people in danger, need to know Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are committed to improving the quality of life for Ohio families, and protecting those who are safely using our public roadways.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Impaired Driving: The danger on Ohio roads Questions? Comments? Personal Experiences? http://www.statepatrol.ohio.gov