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Heighten the chances for conviction, once offenders are apprehended. One way to do this is to apply relatively moderate penalties, such as license sus. pension, for first offenders Moderate penalties are more likely to be administered by judges than severe penalties, such as jail.
• Handle first-time DWI ottenses by swift administrative (non-judicial) revocation of driving licenses. This would reduce the burden on the courts and increase the likelihood that a high proportion of the drivers who are caught would receive a penalty for DWI
• Ensure that all DWI offenses are entered on driving records, so that those drivers who are caught again can be identified as repeat offenders. Today, if a driver pleads guilty to DWI and gets probation, his record doesn't re
What "one too many" can cost In addition to fines and legal fees, a DWI conviction can have a serious impact on auto insurance premiums The chart below is based on sample USAA rates for a conventional package of insurance coverages and limits on a 1982 car in the $6,500 to $8.000 price range. Here's how a DWI conviction would influence the annual premiums. Remember, the DWI charge continues for three years
Additional Location Record DWI DWI Cost Baltimore, MD
$S77 $1.186 S609 Chevy Chase, MD
$ 892 $453 Denver, CO
$ 990 $567 Fairtax, VA
$332 $ 767 $435 Montgomery, AL
$ 644 $369 San Diego, CA
$370 $ 841 $471 Seattle, WA
$384 $ 886 $502 Tampa, FL
$400. $ 889 $489 The middle column shows premium samples for policy holders we insure after a DWI A history of convictions and claim frequency above the norm often results in nonrenewal of the policy. This may force the former policy holder into the states Auto Insurance Plan if other companies are unwilling to voluntarily provide insurance AIP's usually charge considerably higher premiums than those available in the voluntary market.
Toens + Alcohol + Cars - Tragedy . Teenagers die in automobile crashes at a rate more than double the death rate for any other age group.
• 8,000 teenagers are killed and 40,000 are injured each year in accidents involving alcohol. Such accidents are the leading cause of death in this age group.
. More than 44 percent of all night-time alcohol-related fatalities are caused by drivers in the 16 to 24 age group. although they represent only 22 percent of the licensed drivers in the country
. Studies show that, in the 14 states that have upped the drinking age since 1976. traffic deaths in that age group have dropped 28 percent.
flect it. This and other situations where deferred adjudication, plea bargaining, etc., occur can result in judges having repeat offenders in front of them without knowing it.
The evidence is convincing that without changes such as these, there is little hope that DWI laws alone can reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths and injuries.
Alcohol rehabilitation programs or informational courses are sometimes offered as alternatives to license revocation or suspension. And, indeed, there are many excellent programs. However, the evidence shows that drivers required to attend alcohol treatment programs instead of losing their licenses had worse accident and violation experience than corresponding groups of drivers who received license suspension or revocation
Educational programs probably have the greatest potential benefits when directed to first offenders and young people. Teenagers, for example, often have unrealistic perceptions of the physical and psychological effects of alcohol on driving abilities. They often believe the myths that beer is not as dangerous as hard liquor, that handling a car after a few drinks is just a matter of harder concentration, and that black coffee and a cold shower will sober you up. Therefore, it would seem that educational programs could do the most good it directed toward people, such as teenagers, who have not yet become oftenders or problem drinkers. And they could be ordered by the courts in addition to other penalties for DWI offenses But, unless there is good research evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of a program in preventing future oflenses, it should not be offered as an alterna. tive to license suspension or revocation
Where teenaged drivers are concerned, ways need to be found, not only to educate them, but to separate as much as possible. the experience of learning to drive trom learning how to drink alcohol Untortunately, many
Our thanks to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Association of Independent Insurers for some of the information used in this article
teenagers now learn to drink and drive at the same time and in the same place. This may account for the appallingly high rate of involvement of teenagers in motor vehicle crashes.
One approach that has helped in states where it has been tried is increasing the legal minimum drinking age to 21. A study of states where the drinking age has been raised to 21 showed a dramatic reduction in night-time tatal crashes among teenagers. The majority of states, however, still have a legal drinking age below 21.
Night-time curfews for the youngest drivers — 16 and 17 year olds — have also been very effective in reducing crashes, injuries and deaths in that age group and caused by that group
- Realistically, the best we can hope to achieve through measures like these is to reduce the magnitude of the drinking-driving problem. They will not be enough to eliminate alcohol-related crashes or perhaps, even to substantially reduce them. Other, complementary ways of attacking the problem must be pursued at the same time. These other countermeasures include occupant restraints
USAA Lossos a family tragedy USAA policyholders and their families are not immune to the effects of the drinking/driving problem. Our claims experience provides evidence of this. An analysis of our largest 1982 automobile claims --- those exceeding $50,000-reveals that alcohol played a major role in many of these catastrophic losses. In fact, last year USAA paid over $10 million for alcohol-related injury and death claims in this expense category alone. And, this amount fails to reflect the true magnitude of the problem. It does not include claims less than $50,000 or losses where alcohol was a likely, but undocumented, factor.
It's disturbing to see how many of these alcohol-related losses are caused by USAA policyholders or their children. Here are some things you can do to minimize your risk: . Don't drive when you've had too much to drink. Let your spouse drive if he or she is sober, call a taxi or get a friend to drive you home. (Reciprocate by not letting friends drive drunk.) • Set a good example for your teenagers by displaying
responsible drinking behavior.
most serious accidents occur.
(child restraint laws, for example), improved vehicle design, more safety features in cars, and the improvement of our roads and highways. A broad, balanced approach to highway safety is needed with programs aimed at drivers, vehicles and the driving environment.
The high public concern about the problem of traffic injuries and deaths presents us with an opportunity to act that may be unequalled in the last few decades. But sustaining public awareness will not be easy, and real change will require a lot of work and cooperation. The essential ingredient is you, the individual. Legislators will pass and improve laws, police will enforce them, and judges will apply them only if you make your voice heard.
Here are some things you can do to help get problem drinking drivers off the road:
• Write your governor and state representatives and ask for stricter drunk-driving laws in your state.
• Write your Congressional representative and ask for ongoing support of the President's Commission on Drunk Driving to provide visibility to the problem and coordinate national and local emphasis, educa. tion and prevention programs.
. Work within your local civic groups, clubs and other organizations to educate the public on the drunk-driving problem. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) and Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD) are among the groups that are mobilizing strong countrywide campaigns for victims of drunk drivers, and for stronger drunk-driver sanctions.
• Invite traffic officials and citizen safety representatives to speak to your groups about necessary drunk-driving reforms.
• Initiate or join others in circulating resolutions and petitions to urge positive and firm legislative and judicial support of stronger drunk-driving laws.
Student Association of the State University of Now York, Inc.
One Columbia Place, Albany, New York 12207 • (518) 4652406
STATEMENT FOR THE HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE
CONCERNING H.R. 3870,
ALBANY, NEW YORK 12207
OCTOBER 27, 1983
We at sasu, the Student Association of the State Universities of New York State, urge that you oppose H.R. 3870, for several reasons which will be outlined below. We want to submit this statement for the public record.
SASU represents nineteen (19) state universities and colleges! student associations in New York State directly, and many community colleges and public universities in an indirect way through auxiliary services and programs. These schools include the following:
SUNY at Albany
Oswego State College
Plattsburgh State College
Potsdam State College
Purchase State College
Farmingdale Agricultural and Techni-
Suny at StonyBrook Grad. Student Organi
zation ".. 10 represent, advocate, and further the interests and weltare of the students of the State University of New York'
Through the SASU Board of Directors, whose members are elected from each of the colleges and universities mentioned above, over one-hundred and thirtythousand (130,000) students are represented. The SASU Board of Directors debates positions on issues and determines policy. Each of the member campuses and their representatives have voiced their opposition to the bill, H.R. 3870, for several reasons. The most important reason is that a bill such as this, if enacted, would only serve to punish a large number of responsible people, in a weak effort to reach a very small number of abusive drinkers in this age group. SASU believes that there are more effective ways to help prevent the abusive drinker from causing accidents and injury.
The elected officials of SASU, from each of the member campuses, and the many students that they represent, who may choose to drink, are responsible, moderate drinkers. Only between half and three-quarters of all sixteen (16) to twenty-one (21) year-olds hold drivers' licenses (NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, 1982) and of these numbers, fewer own cars. From this population, the overwhelming majority are competent, mature drivers. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Police Reported Accidents for 1982 show that only a tiny percentage of ALL licensed drivers aged sixteen (16) to twenty-one (21) were involved in alcohol-related accidents of all types. The data show this for each individual age :
only this small group were involved in these accidents. This means that LESS THAN ONE PERCENT (1%) of all licensed drivers in each age group mentioned above were involved in alcohol-related accidents in 1982. Conversely, it also means that over ninety-nine percent (99%) of licensed drivers in each of the age groups were NOT INVOLVED in alcohol-related accidents in 1982 that the overwhelming majority of persons aged sixteen (16) to twenty-one (21) in New York State who have licenses drive competently and drink responsibly.
An additional argument against a national drinking age of twentyone (21) is that, as the rationale behind the bill is based upon alcohol-related driving incidents, it then becomes a discriminatory argument. Women have a much