Drinking and driving essays

In: Section 4 – samples

Drinking and driving essays

Drinking and driving essays are one of the most commonly assigned topics.  Teachers love this topic because they believe that asking students to write an essay about drinking and driving will have positive impact on their life choices.  In particular, teachers hope that students will not consider drinking when they are diving.  Below is an essay on drinking-driving laws in the United States.

…In general, enforcement of drinking-driving laws in the United States has been traditionally lax with the tendency of both judge and jury to go easy on offenders. This seems related to the generally permissive attitudes toward drinking and drinking and driving, and the common conceptualization of the drinking-driving population -- everyone drinks and drives, "it could be me" in the witness stand, a few drinks are not detrimental, the real alcoholics are all skid-row bums. Such general assumptions may explain our failure to pick up the options that the technology provides. For example, if the alcohol level were used as evidence of "intoxication," the law could define the crime in terms of a given alcohol level so that a subject with an alcohol level above the stated limit would be automatically guilty and only the test's validity need be proven in court. Such a move would eliminate some of the current legal problems by limiting individual options to prosecute or not to prosecute, as well as sympathetic jury response.

Part of the difficulty in gaining consensual validation for any effort lies in the fact that we do not have a population clearly defined as deviant, but rather a continuum of abuse -- social through chronic drinkers, undifferentiated by both laws and penalties. The current attempt to redefine the problem drinker as the prime culprit seems directed at this very problem; perhaps focusing on the deviant end of the spectrum will create greater societal legitimacy for strict enforcement as well as for more legislation. But it may also prove counterproductive since it tends to obscure the contribution of the social drinker, who, although not "the most lethal subgroup," does contribute to the problem and may in fact be the drinking driver reached by deterrent programs such as the British model.

In the most direct sense the actual deterrent effect of legislation comes from what we do with the offender, be it punitive, preventative, or rehabilitative. There seems to be no conclusive evidence that any of the prescribed penalties in common use work, and some indication that they may be ineffective. For example, studies show that a large proportion of drivers with suspended or revoked licenses drive anyway. Although there are other possibilities, existing societal biases make it difficult to explore some alternatives that might allow for control with less general coercion. Examples are selective licensing (the general feeling is that driving is a right and the recognition of the hardships involve in keeping anyone from driving) and civil penalties such as insurance fines or subrogation (this invokes the fear of allocating more power to the private sector). Even where used (see discussion of Sweden below), these techniques have not been specifically evaluated…

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