1/10/2006Report Shows Rhode Island Inflates DUI Statistics
Rhode Island ACLU report shows the state is exaggerating the drunk driving problem to pass more punitive legislation.
The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU released a report Monday showing how state officials have inflated drunk driving (DUI) statistics in order to speed passage of legislation increasing penalties and revenue from DUI arrests.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Rhode Island has the highest rate of fatalities caused by drunk driving in the nation. At 45 percent, the rate is far above the statewide average of 30 percent. This has caused the state's Attorney General to claim, "Rhode Island has the deplorable distinction of being ranked first in the nation in the percentage of highway fatalities related to alcohol."
The ACLU counters that this statistic is "misleading" because Rhode Island's overall low fatality rate causes the alcohol fatality percentage to appear high. The report claims the true fatality rate is well below the national average. The group goes on to point out that the state's penalties are already above average and that the existing problem lies more in police forces making the issue more of a priority using existing laws.
"Our goal in issuing this report is not to suggest that state officials should become complacent about the problem of drunk driving," said Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown. "But our research does call into question many of the arguments being used to demand prompt and harsh legislative responses to the issue, as there are serious doubts about both their efficacy and need."
The full report is available below in a 646k PDF file.