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Traffic laws can decrease drunk driving under certain circumstances, study finds

An effective traffic law

Drunk driving: was it the law?

Drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents, injury and death. A study found that a 2008 law impacted the number of drunk drivers in the São Paulo area of Brazil. The study began before the law was written and enacted. Between 1970 and 1990, alcohol consumption in that country increased by 74.5%. Reasons for this include that the price of alcohol has dropped, advertising of alcohol became more widespread and it become more available. This became a “serious public health problem,” as nearly half of all traffic accidents were related to alcohol—more specifically to “parties and bars” and occurred in the late night to early morning hours of the weekends.

Finally, Brazilian lawmakers decided it was time for change. The law, Law No. 11705, became known as “Prohibition.” It meant zero blood alcohol tolerance for drivers. If a motorist was found with a blood alcohol content of above 0.2g/l (0.1mg alcohol per liter in breath form), then he or she would receive a fine, lose his or her driving license for one year and receive many points on his or her driver’s license. One may test positive for that amount after one serving of beer. Higher amounts of alcohol could mean jail time as well.

Who participated in the study?

Demographic Characteristic Number in 2007 Number in 2009
Female 407 385
Male 1458 1585
AGE
18-19 Years Old 144 106
20-30 Years Old 976 1009
31-40 Years Old 407 452
41-50 Years Old 224 251
51 Or Older 117 143

 

The study looked at drivers in 2007 and 2009 on weekend nights. Three-thousand eight-hundred and fifty-four drivers took part in the questionnaire. Results are in the tables above and below. The participants tended to be young; half were under 30 years of age. Participants filled out a questionnaire and eighty-four per cent of those who participated agreed to take a Breathalyzer test.

Did attitudes change after Law No. 11705?

alcohol law

One of the most important findings of this study is that more people who drank alcohol chose not to drive after the law was put in place. Before the law 65.7% of São Paulo area residents chose not to drive or to let someone else drive. After the “Prohibition” law, 78.7% chose that path. Additionally, a greater percentage of people were not drinking on the day that they took the survey. These statistics indicate that the law and the awareness it generated influenced people in their decision making after drinking to avoid driving.

What did the results show?

The results of the study showed that between 2007 and 2009, there was a decrease in those found driving drunk. In fact, there was a 45% reduction in positive Breathalyzer test results among motorists in the area covered by the study.

Additionally, immediately after the law was enacted, there were fewer “ambulatory demands” in the hospitals. Also, there was a 63% reduction in “downtown” traffic deaths and a 14 % reduction on the roads.

This effective law saves lives as well as money from responses to motor vehicle accidents. It pays not to drink and drive in terms of lives and money. Even though there may still be injuries, damage and deaths, the law has helped.

About us

The law office of Jayson Lutzky handles accident and personal injury cases in the Bronx, New York. Mr. Lutzky has helped thousands of clients recover millions of dollars for pain and suffering, medical bills, and damages. Contact 718-329-9500 to set up a free in person consultation. In case of a serious injury, we can visit you in the hospital or your home. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more about Mr. Lutzky’s practice.

Source: Campos, V.R., et al., The effect of the new traffic law on drinking and driving in São Paulo, Brazil. Accid. Anal. Prev. (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2012.06.011

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