In a first-of-its-kind study, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) has determined that Michigan ranks near the top of the list of the states with the most instances of drunk or drugged driving. Michigan came in at number eleven, and according to the report, as many as 19% of Michigan’s drivers aged 18 and above unlawfully drove under the influence of either alcohol or drugs last year. The study, which examined a period between 2004 and 2006, calls upon States to use “their efforts and resources to address this preventable menace.”
What is interesting to note about this study is that it followed almost immediately on the heals of Michigan’s 2003 re-write of the State’s drunk driving laws. In this package of changes the State promised to lock-up repeat drunk drivers and in some instances to revoke their licenses for life. This study proves that the threat of punishment does little to actually curb or deter behavior. Clearly as a society we must employ other means to address this societal problem. One answer might be sobriety courts. In 2007 the Michigan Supreme Court released its study entitled “Michigan DUI Court’s Outcome Evaluation.” (see http://spa.american.edu/justice/documents/2352.pdf). This study lauds the effectiveness of treatment in preventing recidivism, especially when sobriety courts are compared with incarceration.