The baby boomer generation in America tells generation X and millennials about the days when drunk driving was a $30 ticket and how police officers used to just follow a drunk driver home. I’ve never quite understood the “follow home” routine. What are you going to do; follow them into a tree?
Stricter DWI laws in the United States have definitely had a positive effect on drunk driving fatalities and accidents. Yet; other countries in the world have incredibly strict DWI laws compared to the U.S.
DWI in the United States
Over the past four decades; most of the United States has been cracking down on DWI’s with stricter laws. We have raised the drinking age from 18 to 21. We have set a blood alcohol content of under .08. We have gradually increased the penalties for drunk driving to the point where if a person gets more than two DWI’s in states like New York; they are VERY likely to face jail time and have their license revoked. However; the law differs from state to state. Minnesota, for example, has been extremely gradual in changing DWI laws. So much so that in October of 2017, it came to light that a man with a valid driver’s license was on his 28th DWI.
Death Penalty For DWI
Thankfully, we do not live in El Salvador. The legal limit in El Salvador is 0.0%. A first offense may result in a death sentence. Bulgaria will give a person one chance. On the second offense for drunk driving a person faces death by firing squad.
Other Countries With Harsh Penalties
Norway has had very strict DWI laws since the 1960’s and 1970’s. The country essentially has a zero tolerance policy. In the early 2000’s Norway tightened up the reigns even more on its already stringent DWI laws. The legal limit in Norway is .2 grams per liter which basically means that a 120 pound woman who drank one mug of beer would have to wait an hour after to drive. Sweden has similar laws. Rather than the death penalty, however, Norway imposes jail time and fines dependant on the Court of adjudication. Roughly, the median fine translates to $5000 in the States.
In Saudi Arabia, drunk drivers are sentenced to lashings in the public square. South Africa fines drunk drivers up to $10,000 and/or up to ten years in prison.
Strict and Strange DWI Laws
In Malaysia, a married drunk driver may also get their innocent spouse in trouble as they can both be sentenced to jail time. Australia goes for public humiliation with a headline of “Drunk and In Jail” precluding a list of offenders in the newspapers. In Turkey, drunk drivers may be taken 20 miles out of town and forced to march back into town with a police escort. In Russia, your license can be suspended for witnessing a drunk buddy driving away (there goes %70 of the people I went to college with).
Problems With Some of The Harsher Laws
First off, God bless America. Second; while it may seem that these strict laws may help reduce the incident of accidents and fatalities (and they may) the laws do not account for alcoholics and addicts. Through scientific study and education; we have come to find out that an alcoholic, once drinking, cannot stop or make healthy decisions. In most repeat cases of drunk driving (like the guy in Minnesota with 28 DWI’s) an alcoholic will repeat mistakes until treated.