The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. These statistics play out in our daily news headlines, with thousands of lives changing from the choice to drive under the influence.
We see dozens of examples of drunk driving play out in popular culture—with actor Vince Vaughn the latest celebrity under a media microscope for a DUI arrest.
The 48-year-old was arrested in the early morning hours of June 10 in Manhattan Beach. The Manhattan Beach Police Department had posted a Facebook update earlier in the week warning of a sobriety checkpoint—which was the point where Vaughn was caught.
“The intent of the checkpoint is to encourage sober designated drivers. By publicizing these educational and enforcement efforts, the Manhattan Beach Police Department believes that drinking and driving and driving while unlicensed will be reduced,” said the Police Department update.
Vaughn was traveling with another passenger, who was also arrested for public intoxication. Body cameras worn by police captured the events of the arrest, including Vaughn’s failed field sobriety test. He denied a Breathalyzer test, according to reports from Manhattan Beach Police Sgt. Tim Zins. Multiple news sources confirm his presence at area bars prior to the arrest.
A mugshot of Vaughn, smiling, has since been released. Vaughn has had no arrests since 2001, when he was arrested after a bar fight. Actor Steve Buscemi, who tried to intervene during the fight, was stabbed during the altercation.
Vaughn has yet to make a statement regarding his arrest, and officers are still reviewing his case. The actor previously spoke out in favor of legalizing drugs, stating that “experimenting” with drugs is “just part of growing up.”
With so many popular actors in Vaughn’s circle facing similar charges of DUIs in recent years, it is clear that driving under the influence continues to be a problem not only in Hollywood—but in America as a whole.
An NHTSA report in 2016 stated that an average of 28 people per day were killed in DUI accidents. Drugged driving, or driving under the influence of substances other than alcohol, is also on a steep incline, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
In states where marijuana has been legalized, the little-researched effects of marijuana on driving impairment have also been called into question. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system. As other states move to legalize recreational marijuana use, these statistics are likely to increase. Using alcohol and marijuana together, or being under the influence of multiple substances, also puts drivers at an increased risk.
Across the US and beyond, accidents under the influence are happening at alarming rates, and the seriousness of impaired driving cannot be overstated.
Creating awareness of drunk driving dangers, while necessary, is not enough on its own. We must also increase the availability of treatment for those who need it, and destigmatize treatment for alcohol use disorders. A DUI arrest is often the first visible sign to family or friends that a substance abuse problem has formed or is likely to form in an individual.
The facts and figures surrounding drunk driving are harrowing, and with drugged driving also on the rise, it is a critical time for drug treatment to be made widely available and for education to begin sooner than ever before.
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