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The Effects of Drinking and Driving

Maddyn Johnstone-Thomas

Arizona State University



The following essay is an investigative essay that takes a look at research conducted to

show different viewpoints and opinions on drinking and driving. The essay takes a look at

different topics regarding drinking and driving, such as if drunk driving laws should be abolished

or not and if the legal age should be lowered. Within the essay are many statistics that show the

effects of drinking and driving. Each source has their own statistics which makes for a wide

variety of information. The essay takes the research found and showcases people’s opinions on

drinking and driving and shows both sides of the story.

Keywords​: drinking, driving, legal, laws


The Effects of Drinking and Driving


For my investigative essay, I decided to focus on the topic of drinking and driving. I think

that the topic of drinking and driving has always been very prevalent, and will continue to be

very prevalent because there are many different viewpoints on how to go about stopping drinking

and driving. I also decided to focus on this topic because when I was in high school, three

students that I knew were killed by a drunk driver so I have always felt very strongly about this


Investigative Essay

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Every day,

almost 30 people die in the United States die in drunk driving crashes, that’s one person every 48

minutes.” Drinking and driving is becoming a major issue in today’s society and the numbers are

continuing to increase in regards to deaths involving drunk driving. There has been the debated

topic of whether to not to increase the drinking age, or even lower it. However, there are also

other people who believe that getting rid of drunk driving laws completely may be the solution to

it all. Sometimes, the statistics don’t lie and that is all people have to turn to in order to form

their opinion.

In many states, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08. Therefore, if

someone were to get pulled over and their BAC is under 0.08 they would be classified as “not

intoxicated”. Unless there is enough evidence to show that the person is severely intoxicated

police officers can not do anything. However, people believe that “setting the legal limit for

‘drunk driving’ at a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 is it sends the message that if you are not

legally drunk, you are therefore okay to drive,” (T. Buddy). This is one of the reasons that some

people in Texas think that abolishing drinking and driving laws completely might be one of the

ways to solve the problem. Many people react to alcohol differently, “​For many people one drink

may well be too many, while experienced drinkers can function relatively normally with a BAC

at or above the legal threshold for presuming intoxication,” (Foundation). Therefore, if drinking

and driving laws were repelled completely it would allow police officers to take more action

with people who are driving under the influence, even if their BAC is under 0.08. There was a

study done in 2000 that showed that there were more fatal accidents with drivers that had a BAC

between 0.01 and 0.03 than there were with BAC levels between 0.08 and 0.10.

Not only is there a debated topic on keeping these laws or getting rid of them completely,

there is also a debate focused on another law: the legal drinking age. Some people believe that

the drinking age should stay at 21, while others think that dropping it, or even raising it higher

might help solve the problem of drinking and driving. There is a foundation called Mothers

Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which was founded in 1980 and they firmly believe that the

current drinking age, 21, has decreased drunk driving, underage drinking and binge drinking.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study in 1975 showing that

lowering the drinking age in two states within the country and one Canadian Province increased

the number of crashes compared to states where the age wasn’t lowered. Many scientists as well

believe that lowering the drinking age would only increase the number of fatal crashes because

young people’s brains are still very much in development. Therefore, scientists believe that

lowering the drinking age would only harm young people and increase the many statistics about

drinking and driving.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also believes that setting a zero

tolerance for those under the legal drinking age, might also help the issue of drinking and

driving. There are many different viewpoints and opinions when it comes to what to about the

issue of driving while under the influence. Many people are on the same page that there needs to

be something done in order to put an end to this horrific tragedy that affects a handful of people


Annotated Bibliography

Entry 1: Interview with a Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident

Cabelly, H. (2017, December 07). Interview With Steven Benvenisti: Victim of Drunken Driving

Accident Treated His Therapy Sessions Like Football Practice. Retrieved from


Summary: This primary source is an interview with Steven Benvenisti who was a victim of a car

accident with someone who was drinking and driving. He was vacationing with friends in Miami

when a driver lost control and hit him while he was walking with friends. His body was thrown

70 feet and his legs were crushed. This interview discusses his recovery and how he is fulfilling

his promise to end drunk driving and helping through dealing with brain injury. It goes back to

life right after the accident and his emotions during that time, and then compares it to how his

life and emotion are today.

Evaluation: This interview will be very useful for my essay because it gives a first hand look at

what drinking and driving can do to a person. It is an interview from someone who actually

experienced something like this. It also discusses the process after the accident, which shows

how life has changed for the person when something traumatic has happened to them. It sheds

positive light on a horrific situation, and also shows what people are doing out in the community

to change things like drinking and driving. I think this is great for a primary source because I can

the information in the article and talk about how this person has actually been affected by this

topic. I can blend together the statistic with someone who is now apart of that statistic.


“After awakening from the coma, I became more depressed than I had ever been. I was at the

lowest emotional level I thought a human being could be at. Being happy again one day was so

unbelievably far-fetched and unrealistic. I was told there would be little, if any, improvement. I

had no idea how I could ever come close to being happy again.”

“After having almost lost my life at age 21, I realize that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. The

only thing that is real is right now. I live my life with the goal of being happy in the present

moment, working hard and treating those with whom I come into contact with the utmost of


Entry 2: Abolishing Drunk Driving Laws

Foundation, R. (2010, October 11). An Argument for Abolishing Drunk Driving Laws. Retrieved



Summary: This article takes a look an opposing viewpoint to drinking and driving. The author of

the article takes a look at people in Austin, Texas who think that drunk driving laws of having a

BAC of 0.08 should be abolished. The sources in the article believe that alcohol hits people

differently, therefore someone with a BAC of 0.05 might be far more intoxicated and should not

be driving, but can’t technically be arrested. Therefore, getting rid of the law completely would

allow police to take more action to those driving under the influence no matter their BAC.

Evaluation: The website Opposing Views is a popular website that looks at different issues going

on in the world from a political spectrum. It is an American digital news website. The author of

the article is an American journalist who reports on criminal justice, drug wars, and civil liberties

for the Washington Post. This article will be a good resource because it takes a different

approach to my topic. It looks at the other side that talks about how drunk driving laws should be

abolished completely. Many people are constantly advocating for stronger drinking and driving

laws, but this article thinks the opposite. I can utilize the studies and results that they discuss

about different levels of BACs and number of fatalities that occurred.


“People do react to alcohol differently. For many people one drink may well be too many, while

experienced drinkers can function relatively normally with a BAC at or above the legal threshold

for presuming intoxication.”

“Consider the 2000 federal law that pressured states to lower their BAC standards to 0.08 from

0.10. At the time, the average BAC in alcohol-related fatal accidents was 0.17, and two-thirds of

such accidents involved drivers with BACs of 0.14 or higher. In fact, drivers with BACs between

0.01 and 0.03 were involved in more fatal accidents than drivers with BACs between 0.08 and


Entry 3: The Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered

Moyse, M., & Fonder, M. (2011). The Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered. In D. E. Nelson

(Ed.), ​Opposing Viewpoints​. ​Teen Drug Abuse​. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted

from Some University Presidents Shirk Responsibility to Protect Students Dangers of

Underage Drinking, 2008, August 19) Retrieved from



Summary: This scholarly source looks at the topic of if the drinking age should be lowered or

not. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 and believe that the current

drinking age being 21 has decreased drunk driving, underage drinking and binge drinking.

Within the article, it gives statistics indicating how many people support the law, as well as how

many people think lowering the law would result in making alcohol more accessible to youth.

Throughout the article, the authors discuss how much the law is supported by colleges, the

public, science and politics.

Evaluation: This source has strong credibility because it comes straight from GALE, which is

database that is recognized very highly for its work. The foundation that the article is based

around also brings credibility to the article as well. It was founded in 1980, which means it has

been around for many years. I think this article brings a different perspective to drinking and

driving. I think it is also a good source to use because it brings the audience of college students

and mothers as well. It is not directly linked to drinking and driving, but it discusses the topic

drinking and becoming under the influence. The article is a credible source because it brings in

topics from many different credible sources as well.


“According to a new survey released today [August 19, 2008] by Nationwide Insurance, 78

percent of adults support 21 as the minimum drinking age and 72 percent believe lowering the

drinking age would make alcohol more accessible to youth.”

“Drunk driving needlessly kills thousands of young people every year. That's why I wrote a law

to create a national drinking age of 21 and why we fight so hard to reduce drunk driving and save

lives on our roads," Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) said. "This small minority of college

administrators wants to undo years of success—that defies common sense. We need to do all we

can to protect the national drinking age—a law that saves the lives of drivers, passengers and

pedestrians across the country each year.”

Entry 4: Benefits of Higher Drinking Age

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. (2008, December 27).

​Benefits of Higher Drinking Age are Crystal Clear in Study after Study, s​ tatus report​, ​Vol.

43, No. 11. Retrieved from ​https://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/43/11/1

Summary: This is another article that discusses the topic of keeping the drinking age 21, instead

of lowering it. It gives background information on a timeline on state policies in regards to the

legal age of purchasing alcohol. It discusses the topic of drinking and driving, but takes a

different look at how this is affecting those under 21 rather than everyone as a whole. It gives

many statistics about the number of crashes related to driving under the influence and the

number of people killed, as well as how old the person driving the car was. This article’s main

point is that the benefits of having the drinking age raised to 21 are very effective, and the

evidence is all there to show how this has only helped society and lowering the drinking age will

only hurt society.


Evaluation: The author of this article is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss

Data Institute. It has been around since 1959, and is definitely a very credible source to use. The

article gives a lot of evidence to back up the claims they are making. They are showing that they

have conducted many studies and done a lot of research on this topic, which makes it a very

credible and persuasive piece. This article gives a lot of valuable information and data that would

be very helpful to my topic and essay, in showing a different side of keeping the drinking age to



“For example, a 1975 Institute study showed that lowering the drinking age to 18 in 2 U.S. states

and a Canadian province increased fatal crashes among drivers younger than 21, compared with

adjacent states where drinking ages weren't changed.”

“A study published during 2006 reported that crash injury rates among 18-19 year-old boys were

12 percent higher than expected after the policy change, based on comparisons with 20-24

year-olds. The relative increase was even larger for 18-19 year-old girls, at 51 percent, and

higher injury rates also were observed for 15-17 year-olds.”

Entry 5: The Dangers of Drinking and Driving

T, Buddy. (2018, June 10). Dangers of Drunk Driving. ​The Cold, Hard Facts About Drinking


Driving.​ Retrieved from ​www.verywellmind.com/drunk-driving-the-dangers-63002​.

Summary: In this article, Buddy T discusses the facts and statistics about driving while impaired.

Alcohol related crashes kill about 10,000 people per year in the United States. The article goes

into depth including statistics that show how dangerous drinking and driving really is. The main

point is that the more you drink, the more likely you are to be involved in a fatal crash. He

emphasizes that by setting a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of only 0.08 it sends out a

message that if you are under that you are not technically drink and are still able to drive, which

is not the case. Overall, Buddy T is stating that alcohol will impair your driving no matter if you

have had one beer or ten beers.

Evaluation: Buddy T is a recovering alcoholic and has done decades of research surrounding

issues with alcoholism. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. The information that

he is providing within the article is credible, because he backs it up with evidence and statistics. I

think that the use of the statistics could be useful in my argument to showcase how alcohol

impairs your judgement. The data he gives will make my argument stronger and more

informative. After reading this article, I can tell that he has done his research and he is not just

making this stuff up based on his opinions.


“​A driver with a​ ​blood alcohol concentration​ (BA​C) of 0.10 or greater is seven times more likely

to be involved in a ​fatal​ motor vehicle crash than a driver who has not consumed alcoholic

beverages, and a driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater is about 25 times more


“One of the problems with setting the legal limit for "drunk driving" at a blood-alcohol content

level of 0.08 is it sends the message that if you are not yet legally drunk, you are therefore okay

to drive.”

Entry 6: Overview of Drinking and Driving


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2019, January 11). ​Drunk Driving.

​Retrieved from​ www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

Summary: The website discusses everything this is to know about drinking and driving. It talks

about how alcohol affects driving ability, the different levels of BAC, risk factors and

consequences. It takes the reader through every step. This website is dedicated to showing what

could happen if a person decides to drink and drive. At the end of the article, it discusses what a

responsible driver does. The article starts out with an overview that gives some very alarming

statistics about the amount of people that die from drinking and driving. It then moves on

different levels of BAC and how it can affect your body. The article then discusses risk factors

on drinking while intoxicated, and the consequences that a person can face if they choose to

drink and drive.

Evaluation: The creator of this website is the National Highway Traffic and Safety

Administration. They work closely with the United States Department of Transportation, which

makes them a very credible source to use. The information that I could use from this website

would bring a lot of credibility to my argument, as well as make it very informative. The

information that would be good to use might be the different levels of BAC and how it affects

your body as it gets bigger. Also, starting my argument with the statistic they used in the

overview about how many deaths it causes could draw my reader in.


“Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes, that’s one person

every 48 minutes in 2017.”


“Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers

(with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher).”