This time of year is full of celebrations, social gatherings and holiday parties. But along with the fun and merriment comes some sobering news: thousands of people in the U.S. lose their lives each year at the hands of drunk or impaired drivers.
According to national statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 9,477 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2016.
The department reported DUI deaths have increased the last three years.
In 2014, 9,049 people lost their lives and in 2015, the number of DUI fatal crashes rose to 9,350.
Each year state and local police step up patrols during peak holiday travel times.
Connecticut state police announced in a recent statement that troopers would again be operating roving patrols and conducting DUI checkpoints during the holidays in an effort to reduce the number of DUI crashes on state roads and local roadways.
To draw attention to the dangers of impaired driving, groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and AAA have waged annual public service campaigns to educate motorists on the effects of drinking and driving.
But, is the threat of arrest and social pressure enough?
Maybe it’s additional education, or more community service.
As it stands now, a person convicted of a DUI in Connecticut faces up to six months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000 and a one-year license suspension. A second offense in 10 years results in a felony conviction. Penalties for DUI fatalities are higher.
You would think that would be enough, but it obviously isn’t. We need to look for more effective ways to turn around these numbers.