We all know stiff penalties and consequences are in place for those charged
with driving under the influence – that much is common knowledge.
Can anyone honestly tell you whether DUI diversionary tactics like checkpoints
and classes are effective at reducing these deadly incidents?
Many measures have been proposed to reduce rates of DUI around the country,
but not all are capable of producing positive results. In a study conducted
by the unique brains of
Freakonomics, the effectiveness of diversionary tactics were analyzed with a more critical eye.
Researchers suggest that tactics like reducing hours of purchase for liquor
and increasing alcohol taxes across the board would show modest results.
Pointing out that these tactics also serve to punish more responsible
drinkers, they suggest targeting troublesome behaviors more directly as
a better solution.
Designated driver programs, commonly believed the best diversionary tactic
available, have ambiguous results – researchers admit they need
to study the programs more before ruling whether or not they actually
work. Advertising and promotions from drinking establishments demonstrate
a positive effect, but perhaps not nearly as significant as we previously regarded.
How Can These Programs Be Strengthened?
The writers of the study state, “Education and persuasion have been
shown to be more powerful when backed up by the muscle of the criminal
justice system.” Over 150 studies have examined whether court-mandated
treatment programs for convicted offenders are effective, and evidence
indicates that they are. Drivers who complete such programs reduce personally
reduce their risk of alcohol-related crashes by 9 percent.
Research suggests reducing the legal blood alcohol content of .08 to .05
could have the most profound effect, saving potentially thousands of lives
each year. These limits could be adjusted to only apply to younger drivers
and still maintain their positive effect.
Finally, checkpoints have proven remarkably effective at reducing DUI.
These diversionary enforcement efforts remove drunk drivers from roads
and deter would-be offenders. Strong evidence from 23 studies show these
efforts are effective, especially when backed by media campaigns.
The fact remains, not all diversionary tactics are equal.