Louisiana Cracks down on Drunk Drivers—Will It Prevent Car Accidents?
More than 200 people lose their lives in alcohol-related crashes every year in Louisiana. These accidents are tragic for several reasons, one of which is that they are entirely preventable. While the number of drunk driving fatalities has decreased in both the U.S. and Louisiana over recent years, it’s important for us to remember that even one death at the hands of an impaired driver is too many.
Safety advocates are hopeful that new legislation in our state will make our roads safer. Louisiana’s Highways Safety Commission praises new laws cracking down on drunk drivers. The law was passed during this year’s legislative session and took effect on August 1, 2018.
Under the new laws, individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) will have to pay an extra $50 on their fine for the use of breathalyzers, increasing the fee from $75 to $125. The new laws also allow judges to extend probation for third-time and fourth-time DWI offenders.
The hope is that these new laws will reduce the number of drunk driving accidents and deaths in the state by making penalties stiffer. Currently, drunk driving is one of the major causes of fatalities on Louisiana’s roads.
The Drunk Driving Problem
Drunk driving is a serious problem here in Louisiana, leading to an average of more than 300 deaths per year in the state. That total has fallen somewhat in recent decades, thanks to stricter enforcement and drunk driving laws. In 1982, the earliest year we have records for, alcohol-related accidents killed a total of 658 people. By 2014, the annual total was down to 300 deaths.
Progress has been made, but alcohol-related deaths are still far too common. That’s why the Louisiana state government passed these laws recently. There is no reason why anyone should have to die in an alcohol-related crash, and these laws are meant to prevent that from happening.
Will the New Laws Help?
According to Northeast Louisiana Highway Safety Coordinator, Susan Mitchell, the new laws “are really sending a message that [drunk driving] needs to stop.” It only takes a moment for a drunk driving accident to happen, and the state hopes to use these new laws as a successful deterrent against drunk driving by increasing fines and extending probation for repeat offenders.
Others in the state believe that the state isn’t taking sufficient action to prevent drunk driving and causing terrible loss to the family members left to ask why their beloved one was killed. Tammy Crockett, who lost a daughter to a drunk driver 12 years ago, believes harsher sentences are the only thing that will prevent more drunk driving from taking lives. She says, “if people know that they’re going to be held accountable, they won’t just freely go out and do this.”
The new laws came into effect on the first day of August in 2018. It remains to be seen how effective they will be.
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