Drunk Drivers Should be imprisoned on the First Offense


Every day, close to 30 individuals in America pass away due to drunkdriving related accidents. It implies that one person dies each 48minutes (CDC, 2013). The statistics demonstrate that despiteprohibiting laws and punishment already in place, people stillprogress to drink and drive. In most states, the punishment includesa short-term deferment of the driving licenses, and paying fines.This demonstrates the need for more stringent laws against drunkdriving. One such law is the proposal that drunk drivers ought to bedetained following their first offense. There are conflictingarguments concerning the proposal. This paper supports the detainingof drunk drivers following their first offense.


Drunk driving is illegal and most of the offenders are aware of thelaw. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(2013), a majority of the drunk drivers have consumed alcoholresulting in at minimum 0.08% absorption (BAC). Such concentration isunlawful for all drivers in America. This demonstrates that thedrivers are aware of the minimum amount of alcohol that they shouldtake if they intend to drive. However, most end up consuming morethan they should, increasing the chances of car crashes, which mayresult in fatalities. Arresting such drivers in their first offenseenlightens them on the dangers they cause to themselves and public ingeneral. It is more likely that an individual arrested in their firstoffense will not repeat the crime, as opposed to a short-term drivinglicense suspension. By first offense arrest, offenders are made awarethat the law is effective and watching their conduct. Thus, thearrest acts as a constant reminder to not drink and drive.

Most drunk driving accidents or incidences arise from repeatoffenders. Drivers having a BAC point of 0.08% or more in seriouscrashes were more probable to have a previous conviction for drunkendriving (CDC, 2013). It makes it obvious that despite the currentlaws and punishment in place to deter drunk driving, chances ofrepeat offences are high. If the laws are effective, then thereshould be a substantial decrease in repeat offenders. Thus,imprisoning on the first offense is a more effective law. Whenoffenders are imprisoned on their first offense, they learn to becomeresponsible and follow the law. The less strict punishment for drunkdriving makes it appear as though the offense is a lesser crime.Imprisonment is one way for offenders to contemplate the seriousnesstheir wrongdoing may cause, if they progress with such conduct.

Alcohol consumption impairs normal body functioning. The body doesnot stop the effect of alcohol fast, which results in a fast increaseof BAC. Alcohol alters the consumers’ mood, affecting nerves thatcommunicate with other body parts. In addition, it impairs the brainsection accountable for self-regulation thus, reducing bodyfunctions like hand-eye synchronization (Bergen, Shults &amp Rudd,2011). Proper hand-eye synchronization is one of the factors thatmake driving possible. Without such coordination, the likelihood ofan accident occurring is normally very high. This means that a drunkdriver can cause an accident at any time. Suspending the driver’slicense does not effectively deter the driver from driving. Forinstance, the driver may get drunk and decide to drive without alicense. Such drivers need to be detained and kept away from theroads for some time for the sake of public safety, which is probablethrough imprisonment following the initial offense.

Imprisonment on first offense is more likely to reduce drunk drivingbecause most of the offenders are people with drinking problems.Research depicts that 85% of drunk drivers declared to have engagedin binge drinking before driving (Bangert-Drowns &amp McMillen,1995). Notably, very few individuals that consume alcohol are able toregulate the amount they take at a given time. The possibility ofbinge drinkers to progress with their behavior following the initialincident is also high. This is because they are already aware of thepunishment. Arresting first offenders is more effective becausepolice officers could use the opportunity to educate the offenders onthe dangers they cause to themselves and the public (Bangert-Drowns &ampMcMillen, 1995). It also sends the message across to all people thatthey will be arrested when caught drinking while drunk. Althoughdrunk driving is illegal, most civilians view it as a lesser crimedue to the severity of punishment when compared to other wrongdoings.Imprisonment could acts as an effective way of communicating thegravity of drunk driving as a wrongdoing.

Accidents arising from driving under the influence of alcohol areusually fatal. In rare cases have drunk driver accidents had minimaleffects. Reported cases include deaths, which happen to thirdparties, as well (Zador, Krawchuk &amp Voas, 2000). The driver mayget hurt, but in most instances individuals that end up dead arethose hit by the cars, for instance. This means that the offense doesnot only cause harm to the wrongdoer, rather anyone is at peril. Thepossibility that a drunk driver may cause harm to another person isoffense enough mandating imprisonment. It is the responsibility oflaw enforcers to ensure the well-being of all civilians. Since drunkdrivers are offenders, they should be imprisoned in their firstoffense, as a strategy of ensuring public safety (Zador, Krawchuk &ampVoas, 2000). It also deters the wrongdoer from repeating the offense,by instilling public accountability. Once arrested, the offenderrealizes that they do not just cause harm to themselves, but publiccivilians as well.

As a counter argument, those against the imprisonment of first felonydrunk drivers argue that the laws in place are effective in deterringdrunk driving. Another argument is that imprisonment is too strictcompared to the offense committed. Such arguments are not validenough. This is because statistics demonstrate that most car crashesarise from repeat offenders (Howat, at al 2004). This means thatlicense suspension and fines were ineffective in deterring theoffender. Comparing imprisonment to the offense committed is as wella misguided argument. Drunk people are unable to control theiractions, more so when it includes driving. A drunk driver is a riskto the public because they could cause an accident any time.Considering that during the accident a life is lost, it makes drunkdriving a punishable offense. Law enforcers do not have to wait untillives have been lost for them to take stringent actions. It would bebetter to avoid losing lives by imprisoning first time offenders.


Drunk driving is unlawful making it a punishable offense. Manydrivers are aware of the law, yet they progress to drink and driveignoring the peril caused to third parties and themselves. Arrestingon first felony is a more effective strategy in reducing drunkdriving, which should be adopted by law enforcers. It reduces drunkdriving, enlightens offenders on the possible dangers of theiractions, deters repeat offenses and reduces accident cases arisingfrom driving while drunk.


Bangert-Drowns, R &amp McMillen, R. (1995). Results from ameta-analysis of remedial interventions with drink/drive offenders.Addiction, 90, 907-26.

Bergen, G., Shults, R. A &amp Rudd,A. (2011).&nbspVital Signs:Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults –United States, 2010.&nbspMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,&nbsp60(39), 1351.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. (2013, Oct.15). Drinking and Driving a Threat to Everyone, Vital Signs, 1-1.Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/drinkinganddriving/

Howat, P., Sleet, D., Elder, R &amp Maycock, B. (2004). Preventingalcohol-related traffic injury: a health promotion approach. TrafficInjury Prevention, 5, 208-219.

Zador, P., Krawchuk, S. &amp Voas, R. B. (2000). Alcohol-relatedrelative risk of driver fatalities and driver involvement in fatalcrashes in relation to driver age and gender: an update using 1996data. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 387-95.