To fight drunk driving, change the law and the culture: Guest commentary


The United States leads the world in deaths by drunk drivers. In fact, nearly as many Americans are killed every year by drunk drivers as are by gun violence. Most were killed by good people, just like you and me.

We have a cultural problem in this country when it comes to DUI. We often refer to someone’s “first” or “second” DUI arrest, as if they were rites of passage, while in other countries — such as my native Sweden — the idea that you would have a few drinks and then decide to operate a 2,000-pound machine would be seen as reckless as waving a gun around at the supermarket.

Yet many celebrities, sports figures, business leaders and heroes have one or more DUIs. Likely, many people reading these words have had a DUI. Certainly many more privately can recall an instance or few when, in retrospect, they probably had too much to drink yet nonetheless took the wheel of a car. Many of us live in shameful glass houses, so we are uncomfortable judging or telling others what to do. Indeed, on average a person has driven drunk 80 times before their first crash or arrest. By tolerating DUIs as we do, we accept them. And people are getting killed.

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