Many people believe that if you have been drinking alcohol, you should not be allowed behind the driving controls of a motor vehicle. Others claim that the state has no right to interfere with people's freedom to choose when and where they drink alcohol, and that many factors unrelated to drunken driving cause road accidents and deaths. The fact remains that far too many people are injured or killed on our roads each year and that, all too often, they are found to have an excessive breath or blood alcohol level. Whether the solution to this problem is to be found through education programmes, or the enforcement of stiffer legal penalties, or a combination of both, remains to be seen.
Educational programmes aimed mainly at school students appear to have helped change the attitudes of many young people towards drink driving. Groups like MADD (mothers against drunk driving) are well supported in schools, and many people are now prepared to use a cab or a designated sober driver when they go out on a drinking spree or partying. Graphic television commercials depicting the gruesome consequences of drinking and driving are broadcast daily, and have hopefully made many people reconsider their drink drive habits.
Not everyone agrees. Some would argue that our drink drive laws are simply a revenue gathering exercise which does little to curb the behaviour of the habitual drunk driver. Others would argue that there is already too much social control in our society, and that attempts to legislate how much people can drink before driving will never bring down the road toll. Individuals, who have a serious drinking problem yet continue driving, are certainly unlikely to be persuaded to get treatment for their addiction simply because law changes have been enacted. Furthermore, graphic television commercials depicting the aftermath of a horrific car crash are likely to upset sensitive viewers, and yet be largely ignored by the intoxicated target group.