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12/15/2015

More on Drunk Driving: Big Declines in Self-Reported DUI; Supreme Court to Review Tests

Just as teen drinking rates continue to decline, so have self-reports of young people drinking and driving. A new report from the Centers for Disease control notes that “the prevalence of drinking and driving among high school students aged 16-19 years ... declined by 54% from 22.3% in 1991 to 10.3% in 2011.” That progress continued in more recent self-reported data, from national surveys in 2014. For example:

  • “During 2002-2014, the prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol alone significantly declined by 59% among persons aged 16-20 years (from 16.2% in 2002 to 6.6% in 2014).”
  •  Among those 21-25 years old, the self-reported rate of driving under the influence of alcohol alone fell by 38% over the 12 years, from 29.1% to 18.1%.
  • And despite the growing popularity (and legality) of marijuana, the “prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana combined significantly declined by 39%”among both age groups. Very few young adults admit to driving under the influence of both alcohol and pot, less than 2%. Then too, the prevalence of driving under the influence of marijuana alone also fell during this period.


Meanwhile, The US Supreme court will “weigh whether states can make it a crime for drunk driving suspects to refuse to take blood-alcohol tests when police haven’t secured a warrant,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The Justices will review cases that involve “implied consent” laws in Minnesota and North Dakota (13 states have such laws) that require drivers to take a test (blood, breath or urine) if a law enforcement officer believes they are under the influence.

Previously, the Supreme Court ruled that police need warrants to search suspects, with specific exceptions, including the preservation of evidence and to protect an officer. And just two years ago, the Court ruled that “police couldn’t routinely conduct alcohol blood tests without getting a warrant,” The Journal reminds, rejecting the argument that time delays would allow BAC levels to decline. Justice Sotomayor wrote at the time: “In those drunk-driving investigations where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so.” Lawyers for plaintiffs argue the implied consent laws violate 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and disregard Supreme Court precedent.

Finally, American Beverage Institute’s Rick Berman continued ABI’s public criticism of the recent Highway Bill for funding DADSS interlock technology (see last Update) in an op-ed for The Washington Times. Berman made the same point that ABI’s Sarah Longwell has about the devices inevitably being set lower than .08 (which MADD denies). He also noted that even with a 99.9997% accuracy rate, “given the number of cars on the road we would still experience malfunctions thousands of times every day,” stranding sober drivers.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2015
  • Volume: 32
  • Issue #: 12
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