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Governors' agency seek action on repeat DUI offenders

Drunk driving was involved in 29 percent of all car accident fatalities in 2018. Although this was the lowest percentage in 26 years, the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) is seeking action on dealing with the threat posed by high risk drivers. The GHSA holds these motorists responsible for a disproportionate number of these deadly auto accidents.

Last year, on average, there was a fatal alcohol-impaired traffic death every 50 minutes or 29 of these deaths each day in this country. In its recent report, the GHSA sought to highlight high-risk impaired drivers and repeat offenders and their role in these accidents.

The GHSA defines a high-risk impaired driver as a motorist who does not have the restraint or self-control to resist driving even if they are impaired. They have at least one of these three characteristics.

First, they drive with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.15 g/dl after drinking alcohol. Next, they are a polysubstance user by consuming both drugs and alcohol. Third, these drivers are repeat offenders because they were arrested more than once for drunk driving.

Repeat offenders are responsible for at least one-third of impaired driving deaths every year. High BAC offenders were involved in over 60 percent of drunk driving deaths. Last year, 66 percent of motorists in fatal accidents had a BAC over 0.15 g/dl.

Impaired driving is not limited to Californian motorists consuming alcohol. Over the past decade, there was a 16 percent rise in the number of impaired motorists who were killed in accidents who tested positive for alcohol and other drugs.

These offenders, in addition to having substance abuse problems, also have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, mental health issues often stay concealed.

The GHSA recommended that states must do more than arrest, fine and jail repeat offenders. Law enforcement must conduct screening, assessment and test drivers for both alcohol and drugs. States should also identify the causes of this problem and administer treatment, according to the Distilled Spirits council of the United States. Toxicology resources need to be increased for some states.

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