Over the past few decades, society has begun to recognize and respond to the increasing number of fatalities caused by intoxicated drivers. During this time, laws regulating drinking and driving have increased in both severity and quantity. Even with these new measures, intoxicated drivers still cause a disturbingly high number of deaths.
Drunk driving is the nation’s most commonly perpetrated violent crime. Officials approximate that a drunk driver kills two people every hour. In 2003, police arrested one out of every 135 drivers for driving under the influence. In 2004, drunk drivers caused the deaths of thirty-nine percent of individuals involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. These statistics suggest that the legislature has not fully achieved its goal of deterring drinking and driving. Society’s interest in protecting communities against drunk drivers compels lawmakers to strengthen drinking and driving laws in order to aid prevention and prosecution across the country.
Lawmakers must uphold constitutional guarantees despite their duty to protect citizens from the dire consequences of drinking and driving. Many states’ drinking and driving laws seemingly infringe upon the Fourth Amendment by permitting officers to use force to obtain a blood test without a warrant, and by declining to give a suspect a choice between the methods used in a chemical test. In contrast, other states’ statutes unduly protect the drunk driver with cushiony laws and ambiguity, allowing a drunk driver to escape conviction. This Note begins by reviewing the development of drinking and driving laws in several states. Next, it analyzes these states’ statutes and highlights areas of concern. Finally, this Note proposes a constitutionally sound statute that will reduce litigation over constitutional issues while retaining harsh penalties to deter drunk drivers. . . .