Alcohol Abuse And Crime

While many people associate alcohol use with fun, alcohol abuse has been linked to crime for centuries. In fact, it is more commonly linked with non-drug crimes than any other substance in the world. While part of that is due to its legality, the effects it has on the body and mind are the biggest influence.

The Statistics Don’t Lie

The unfortunate truth is that crime and alcohol abuse are almost inextricably linked. For example, the National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence, Inc reported some disturbing statistics, which include the fact that:

  • 80 percent of lawbreakers abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Almost 50 percent of those incarcerated had a clinical addiction
  • 40 percent of all violent crimes are fueled by alcohol
  • Over 60 percent of people arrested are found to be intoxicated
  • Nearly 37 percent of all incarcerated people were drunk at the time of their arrest

And while other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, did contribute to crimes, the same survey found that alcohol was, by far, the biggest contributor to violent crimes: over three million violent crimes are committed every year thanks to alcohol and alcohol abuse.

Crimes Typically Committed Due To Alcohol Abuse

Although multiple types of crimes are committed due to alcohol abuse, certain types tend to be more prevalent. For example, the National Partnership On Alcohol Misuse And Crime reported that the most commonly committed crimes influenced by alcohol abuse included:

  • DUI/DWI driving incidents
  • About 10,000 driving related deaths (whether accidental or not)
  • Domestic violence
  • Physical altercations with strangers
  • Assault
  • Public lewdness
  • Rape
  • Murder

The result of all of these crimes: millions of people serving time in jail or prison, millions of dollars in property damage, and nearly $100 billion dollars spent on punishing those who have committed the crimes. The strain on the system is staggering and millions of people simply aren’t getting the help they need to avoid becoming a repeat offender.

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Why Does Alcohol Abuse Cause Increased Crime?

Alcohol abuse impacts mental acuity, making it more difficult to think straight, and affecting logical decision-making. It often slows down higher-level thinking and pulls out the baser elements of a person’s personality. For example, a person with high levels of depression may grow sad, while someone with anger issues may become aggressive.

Essentially, alcohol constricts your perception of reality and makes it harder to focus on multiple aspects of a situation. This is why violent crimes are so prevalent: if someone says something mean to you when you’re drunk, you don’t stop to think about why they said it, or if you somehow influenced their comment. And you have a harder time brushing it off or writing it off as a meaningless insult: instead, you are more likely to get extremely angry.

Such a decreased range of focus can be called “tunnel vision” and it causes accidents (such as bumping into someone) to become worthy of great anger. And alcohol lowers your inhibition and your fear of retribution (i.e. survival instincts), meaning that impulsive desires to strike someone are hard or nearly impossible to suppress.

Alcohol also lowers your executive function (reasoning and logic areas) meaning you it’s harder for you to rationally understand situations. For example, when you’re sober you might think driving drunk is a crime. However, after five or six drinks, you are suddenly getting behind the wheel of your vehicle, putting your life and the lives of others at risk.

You may also come to illogical decisions that lead to other crimes. For example, you and your buddies may come to the conclusion that you need to break into your old high school. Why? You miss the old days and want to relive them in anyway possible. Sober, this logic would make no sense to you: however, when you’re abusing alcohol, it suddenly becomes the “best idea ever!”

Methods Being Utilized To Decrease This Risk

Doctors, government officials, and scientists are working toward ways of decreasing alcohol abuse in the country and, by proxy, decreasing the risk of criminal activity. For example, alcohol rehab helps teach coping methods to those who suffer from alcohol addiction. These methods help them stay sober and eliminate any impulsive behavior that may lead to breaking the law.

Sober-living groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are also trying to teach upcoming generations about the dangers of drinking and driving. While this seems to be having some effect, it’s way too early to gauge how children are responding to these groups.

Behavior-modification techniques such as CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy are being utilized to change criminal behaviors that may be fueled by alcohol addiction. For example, a person who turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism for anger would be taught healthier methods, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Creative endeavors
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Reaching out to friends or family members

In prisons and jails, people who have committed crimes under the influence of alcohol are being taught many of these same techniques, hopefully eliminating the possibility of recidivist activities. Many of them are being reached through 12-Step techniques and learning about the severe consequences of their actions.

It’s Never Too Late To Change

Crime and alcohol addiction don’t have to permanently derail your life. By obtaining the proper treatment, you can regain the sober and crime-free life that you deserve. Contact us at to learn how. Our counselors can set you up with the best treatment center near you, one that will work hard to break the habit of addiction.

An ignition interlock device (IID) is an unique mechanism that works just like a breathalyzer, but it is installed in a vehicle’s dashboard to prevent the driver from drinking and driving.

How Does It Work?

Before the driver can start the car, they must give a breath sample into the device, and if the result is greater than the device’s pre-programmed blood alcohol concentration level, the device “locks” the vehicle from being started. After some time, the driver can provide another breath sample and if it meets the minimal alcohol guidelines (which can vary by state and country), the vehicle then “unlocks” and can start as normal.

After the engine has been turned on, the IID will randomly request samples throughout the driver’s commute; the purpose is to prevent someone other than the driver from falsifying a breath sample. If one isn’t provided, or if the sample exceeds the IID’s presets, the device will then log the event, warn the driver, and start up an alarm (horn honking and lights flashing) until the driver can get off the road and the engine has been turned off or until a clean breath sample can be provided.

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How Is It Monitored?

The data collected by the IID is then sent to whomever ordered the device to be installed, such as the DMV, the Court, probation officer, etc.. Many states require the data to be sent directly through wireless technology as soon as a sample is taken, while some states receive the information infrequently, but no less than once a month.

The Cost Of An IID

Having an IID installed is often a condition of driving again if the person’s license was suspended as a result of a DUI conviction. The cost of having an IID isn’t cheap, as an installation can cost anywhere from $100-$200, and a monthly rental fee can range from $70 to $100. This does not include any additional charges for routine maintenance or having the device regulated frequently.

There’s no fooling the device either, and if a sober friend takes the test for the driver, or if the driver tampers with the device, it can lead to more legal trouble and a possibility of revoking their license indefinitely.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one needs additional assistance or advice, contact us today.At, we are committed to helping individuals suffering from alcohol addiction by getting the assistance and support they need to find the path to sobriety. Our dedicated counselors are ready to answer any questions you have about the IID or on any other preventative treatments. If you or a loved one needs additional assistance or advice, contact us today.

Court-ordered breathalyzer tests can come in many different forms. Some operate with an alarm signalling to the user that they have minutes to take the test, while others are linked directly to the ignition of a car. These devices, known as an ignition interlock, disable the ignition of a car if alcohol is detected. Even a single incidence of driving while under the influence can lead to necessary use of one of these devices. Research has shown the use of court-ordered breathalyzers cuts recidivism rates by more than 65 percent. And with an average of more than 35 fatalities occurring each day in the United States relating to alcohol use, these devices save lives and prevent the unintended consequences associated with drinking and driving.


How Breathalyzers Work

Typically, breathalyzers work by measuring the acetic acid remaining after alcohol is oxidized which provides an estimated measure of an individual’s overall blood alcohol concentration (BAC). An individual blows air through a small tube, any alcohol on their breath begins to oxidize, releasing acetic acid molecules. These molecules are then detected by the device. The amount of alcohol oxidizing on someone’s breath is in proportion to the liquid alcohol in their bloodstream, giving law enforcement a fairly accurate measure of a person’s BAC.

An Ignition Interlock License Following A DUI

Requirements for how often or when to test vary with each conviction, however, some states allow an individual to apply for an ignition interlock license before they suspend a license, allowing a person to continue working as they face a hearing or enter treatment. (An interlock device may also be required after the license has been suspended.)

During this period, a driver may be required to test before starting the car and later, while driving. These “rolling retests” are designed to prevent someone from having a friend utilize the device in place of the driver.

In some cases, a driver may fail the first test, in which case the device disables the car for a period of time, usually up to 30 minutes. At that time, the driver is permitted to retest. If their BAC remains above the set limit, the car will be disabled for a longer duration. In other cases, a person who blows over the legal limit may face arrest. Severity of the consequence depends on the individual’s state and prior convictions. If you are still drinking and worried about blowing over your limit with your interlock system, you may wish to carry a portable unit with you. These units usually cost about $100.

Interlock devices cost as little as a few dollars a day and will not harm your vehicle. Installation takes less than an hour and will be completed by a professional. Depending on your state, you may either be required to let law enforcement or the monitoring authority know you have installed the interlock system by submitting a certificate provided by the installer, or the installer may submit this information electronically.

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Electronic Home Detention following A DUI

If you are facing an electronic home detention for a DUI arrest, you may not have a choice in when you test for BAC. An electronic home detention is monitored using a bracelet which allows a person’s movement to be traced via satellite. Additionally, an in-home breathalyzer may also be utilized. These devices have an alarm that sounds at certain periods of the day or at random, depending on the severity of the sentencing. An individual must take the test within minutes of the alarm, or face arrest.

Beware Of Alcohol In Other Substances

The law does not recognize excuses for alcohol readings that may come from other sources. If you are sick and taking cold medication, notify your monitor about the best course of action. Otherwise, wait 15 minutes after eating or drinking to ensure no false positives, which may result in legal consequences.

How Long Will I Be Required To Use A Breathalyzer?

After restoration of your driver’s license, a breathalyzer may be required for testing for as long as three years, though again, much depends on the severity and nature of the sentencing. In the long run, though inconvenient, breathalyzers protect the safety of other drivers and your safety as well. Driving while intoxicated carries a risk of devastating consequences like death and unintentional manslaughter.

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