As I’ve often pontificated in past posts, the way to reduce DUI-related fatalities on our highways is not to destroy the lives of offenders with Draconian punishment, nor to dismantle the Constitution in the process. Rather, the solution is in recognizing that the danger lies in not the vast majority of those accused but in the "problem drinker" — the person with prior convictions and whose blood-alcohol level is usually very high, typically an alcoholic. See, for example, my recent post A Modest Proposal.
A recent news story about such an approach in Wisconsin is confirming the validity of this view.
DOT Report Highlights Supervision of Repeat Drunken Drivers
Ashland, WI. July 1 – Pretrial Intensive Supervision Programs in 11 Wisconsin counties have saved the state tens of thousands of jail days, according to a legislative report recently completed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The program began in 1993 in Milwaukee County and targets repeat drunken drivers through counseling, treatment, and monitoring…
The Department of Transportation annually evaluates the counties’ programs. In 2010, the department reported the following results:
In 2010, 80 percent of the 3,813 drunk drivers participating in intensive supervision programs successfully completed their program, which typically includes: treatment for alcohol dependency or addiction, monitoring for sobriety, a Driver Safety Plan component and compliance with court appearances and payment of fines.
From October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010 (federal fiscal year 2010), counties with intensive supervision programs that reported totals saved 74,440 jail days. (Total jail days saved does not include information from all counties in the program).
"The pretrial intoxicated driver intervention program continues to enjoy support from the Milwaukee County Court judges, who cite the program as one of the most important resources the courts have for dealing with repeat OWI offenders," said Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers. "The court appreciates that pretrial supervision of clients results in better treatment compliance."
Along with the state’s justice system, the department of transportation sees program benefits, as well.
"Most traffic fatalities are linked to motorists’ behavior such as driving while impaired, speeding and not wearing seat belts. We know that the injuries and deaths caused by the traffic crashes are preventable," said Randy Romanski of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Safety. "The intensive supervision programs work to change behaviors and prevent situations where people drive drunk and injure or kill themselves or others."
Maybe it’s time to abandon MADD’s prohibition agenda and start dealing with reality.