California DUI Laws: Do They Work?


Looking at the Benefits and Costs

California has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Those who are convicted of driving under the influence in the golden state face a host of consequences such as jail time, large fines, DUI classes, and a suspended license. The stakes are high when it comes to drinking and driving in California; your freedom, time, and money are on the line. Knowing this, you may be wondering whether California’s DUI laws really work. Do they deter people from drinking and driving? Do they reduce recidivism? Do they make it safer, overall, for Californians to drive? These are important questions to ask. DUI laws should accomplish all these things, especially if they result in harsh punishments for those who make even a one-time mistake.

Judging whether or not DUI laws make a difference requires looking at the problem from many perspectives.

Different agencies make efforts to analyze information related to driving under the influence. The resulting statistics help guide lawmakers and policy developers to better suit the needs of the community. Sometimes these statistics are used as scare tactics to deter people from drinking and driving. Some have worked. Following the 1990 implementation of the admin per se law, which automatically suspends the license of anyone convicted of a DUI, recidivism rates steadily declined.

It is impossible to say whether reading a statistic alone can deter someone from making a mistake, but it is safe to say thenumbers are telling. Drinking and driving kills. Alcohol is involved in a large share of traffic fatalities in California. DUI laws periodically change to better account for these kinds of statistics, making it more of a risk than ever to get behind the wheel after drinking. Unfortunately, increasingly strict laws won’t deter everyone, and the rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities fluctuate both up and down.

The Bigger Problem

Authorities in the field of traffic safety have recognized that DUI laws can only go so far because alcohol abuse is at the core of the DUI problem. Those who abuse alcohol are less likely to look to legal consequences to help them make their life choices. One of the components of DUI sentencing in California is the DUI education program, also called DUI classes. These classes address this core problem of alcohol abuse. Jail time, fines, and a suspend license can only go so far toward helping people rehabilitating their ways, and the classes are intended to fill in that gap.

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