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June 28, 1985

Prosecution of Injured Drunk Drivers

Author Affiliations

Milford Hospital Milford, Conn

JAMA. 1985;253(24):3550. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350480058011

To the Editor.—  Maull et al1 recently focused on the culprit of preventable carnage on our highways, the drunken injured driver, and the surprising and deplorable lack of citation and conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).Our findings (A.B., J.W., unpublished data, December 1983 to February 1984)2 confirm theirs. There is a powerful array of forces, legal and personal, that interdicts the implementation of strong laws against DUI. Those forces, bizarrely, act to protect the intoxicated driver instead of society. In our study, 25 consecutive injured drivers, brought to the hospital by ambulance and suspected of intoxication by breath alcohol odor, had blood alcohol levels drawn whether or not they were admitted. Twenty-four (97%) of the 25 patients had blood alcohol levels of more than 100 mg/dL, the legal level of intoxication. Two thirds of the drivers had more than double that level.