Impairment - More Than a Shift

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

In Ohio when one is arrested for impaired driving there are options: three days at a hotel completing a diversion class or three days to six months in jail. Most op for the hotel. The diversion programs operate at the hotel and are called Driver Intervention Programs (DIP). The Driver Intervention Programs exist for the single purpose of educating impaired drivers on how not to re-offend and to screen the participants for potential substance abuse problems.

Generally, one would think gratitude would be the response when given the option of a hotel stay over enjoying 3 days to 6 months in jail -not so much. The consensus of the participants, especially on the first night of the program, is very negative. The first night is difficult putting 25-30 people from different walks of life in a conference room is simply awkward. However, there are always a handful of positive people, but the main stream of thought is how they are being screwed. A second stream of discontent is the participants' sentiment that drunk driving laws are unfair. Usually, as the weekend progresses, there is a shift and most of the participants lighten up, open their minds, and learn some things from the program content. However, about 50% maintain they have somehow been wronged by the criminal justice system as a whole.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people died in traffic crashes in 2017 in the United States, including an estimated 10,874 people who were killed in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). The definition of alcohol-impaired driving was uniform for all states until December 2018. In December of 2018 Utah lowered its legal limit to a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.05. Utah also eliminated a legal limit for under 21's to a zero tolerance law position -thus, prohibiting drivers under the age of 21 from drinking and driving. In Ohio and most states the limit for underage drivers is a BAC of 0.02 grams per deciliter. But impaired driving laws now include drugs as well as distractions.

The National Safety Council identify the distracted drivers, those using their cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. In the past couple of years ARC-ip has been seeing individuals referred to the Driver Intervention Programs for distracted driving and usually cell phone use was the precursor to the arrest.