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Cars and Alcohol: A Deadly American Cocktail

In recent years, penalties for drunk driving have continued to increase in severity and frequency. Many states continue to move for harsher penalties and more criminalization of DUI. The cost associated with a violation can be as much as $10,000 or more, once you factor in attorney’s fees, court costs, and lost wages from work. But is this truly an American problem? Are we unique in some way? In short, yes. America’s love of cars, unique geography, and national obsession with alcohol have created a perfect storm that arguably makes drunk driving more likely and perhaps more dangerous than anywhere in the world.

How important is alcohol?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2013 alone nearly 87 percent of people 18 or older said that they drank alcohol at some point in their lives. And about 71 percent said they drank it over the past year. Still, over half claimed to have indulged in just the last month. It is no wonder that over 1.5 million Americans are arrested for drunk driving every year.

If you are like many Americans, this is no surprise to you. In fact, you may even wonder why the numbers are not higher. No doubt, alcohol plays a huge role in our social culture. Alcohol is served everywhere – from our neighborhood family restaurants to the bowling alleys where we take our kids. Indeed, alcohol is not just for taverns and saloons.

How important are cars?

Not only does alcohol play a huge role in our culture, cars too are a big factor. Consider that America has the most motor vehicles on the road of any country in the world. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that as of 2013, there were 255,876,822 registered motor vehicles in America.

How does geography make drunk driving even more problematic?

Unlike many smaller countries, especially in Europe, Americans cannot always walk to work or use public transit. While this is a viable option in some major cities, such as Chicago, New York, and the District of Columbia, the vast majority of Americans live in rural, suburban, or semi-metropolitan areas where an automobile is practically a necessity simply to get to and from work. Therefore, it is practically impossible to get to and from restaurants, bars, and alcohol-related functions without the use of a vehicle.

Comparing America’s drunk driving problem to other countries

In short, you cannot compare America’s drunk driving problem to any country. Indeed, we are a nation that has far more automobiles traversing a wide variety of terrain than any other country. At the same time, we have access to alcohol at almost every function, holiday party, and family restaurant we pass. It should come as no surprise that we have so many DUI arrests every year.

Despite the uniquely enormous DUI problem in America, those charged with the offense are not always guilty. And those who are guilty may still not receive the fair treatment the law affords them. In many cases, the police misuse field sobriety tests, fail to properly maintain or use breathalyzer devices, or simply fail to follow procedures designed to ensure that innocent people are not charged with crimes. Further, overzealous prosecutors and judges frequently abuse sentencing laws to satisfy the public or appear tough on crime. Without an experienced DUI lawyer, you must face them alone. If you have been arrested for DUI in Leesburg, Fairfax or the surrounding northern Virginia area, call the aggressive Virginia DUI attorneys of Simms Showers, LLP today.

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