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Alcohol Related Crime Essay, Research Paper

SSP 152 – Alcohol.Science.Society.

May 1, 1998

There is a certain responsibility that an individual must take upon themselves when they choose to consume alcohol. It can affect how we think, feel, and act. There may be repercussions if alcohol is not handled carefully. Alcohol can release the inhibitions that control activity, which may lead some to turn crime or similar activities; disregarding the potential outcome of their behavior.

Most are able to generally handle themselves at any given loci. For many of these drinkers, alcohol use is socially acceptable and is a complement to social events, good food, and conversation with friends and family. Many families use wine or other alcoholic beverages as a part of traditions or rituals. Others enjoy the relaxation effects of drinking or merely like the taste of a beer or a glass of wine with a special meal. In these situations the use of alcohol is moderate, occasional, and low risk.

But, there are also those who function unacceptably, losing proper inhibiting control. Not only do those intoxicated potentially become threat to themselves, they may subsequently become a menace to others. This is the primary problem regarding alcohol, the threat is poses to others.

The correlation between alcohol and crime is frightening. Over four million alcohol related arrests are made each year, that is one third of all arrests in the United States of America. Alcohol is a key factor in sixty-eight percent of manslaughters, fifty-four percent of attempted murders, fifty percent of cases involving sexual assaults, and forty-eight percent of robberies. The cost of this crime is estimated at $61.8 million annually. With the high amount of alcohol related arrests, it is hard for all of them to be incarcerated. Many are let go with light punishments, often soon to commit similar alcohol influenced crimes. Three of the more commonly discussed crimes or problems regarding the abuse of alcohol involve driving under the influence, domestic abuse, and suicide attempts.

Alcohol consumption while driving a motor vehicle may be the most common infraction of the law, seven hundred thousand arrests alone were made last year in the United States involving driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol impairs driving skills. Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down body functions. The amount of alcohol in the blood at any point in time is referred to as the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. The greater the amount of alcohol in the blood the higher the BAC level and greater the impairment of driving. Even at very low BAC levels (.01-.04), important body functions and skills can be affected. At higher BAC levels (.05 and above) these functions become greatly impaired. Those functions most directly related to driving include coordination and balance, vision, steering, perception, processing of information, attention and judgment.

Over twenty percent of all traffic fatalities a year are of result of alcohol, this represents approximately twenty thousand people per year killed because of the consumption of alcohol. Those who consume the beverages typically believe that they will be able to drive and do not realize the extent to which they have been drinking. There is no safe level of alcohol that a person can assume will not impair driving performance. Any amount of alcohol has the potential to impair your ability to drive safely. The greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of an alcohol related problem. When alcohol is used in connection with activities such as driving a motor vehicle, serious safety problems can result. Death and injury resulting from alcohol related crashes are a calamity. Alcohol is the number one factor in deaths and injuries on our highways every year claiming thousands of victims across the country.

The domestic realm is another area where crime and alcohol encounter each other. Alcoholism and abuse are the second leading cause of alcohol related crime, to vehicular accidents. Increased aggression is a common outcome of heavy drinking, especially in males, because of the increased production of testosterone while intoxicated. Studies have shown a significant association between battering incidents and alcohol abuse. A study done in 1993 showed that of 2,000 couples, the occurrence of domestic violence was fifteen times more likely in households where husbands were described as often drunk as compared to never drunk. Another study told that alcohol is present in more than fifty percent of all incidents of domestic violence. Women who were beaten as children tend to marry into relationships where the husband is also physical. This is one reason it is believed that these figures are so dramatically high. Alcohol seems to be the predictor of marital violence.

Thirdly, alcohol and its abuse has been more commonly seen as leading to more attempts of suicide. The National Center for Health Statistics records between 25,000 and 30,000 self-inflicted deaths in the U.S. annually. For every death from suicide, experts estimate that eight other suicide attempts

are made. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among persons fifteen to twenty-four years of age. Other statistics tell us that between twenty and thirty percent of suicide victims had a history of alcohol abuse or were drinking shortly before their suicides. Another interesting fact is that nearly twenty-four percent of suicide victims in another study had Blood Alcohol Concentrations of .10 or greater, the legal level for intoxication in many states. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of years of potential life lost, taking an estimated total of 900,000 years of life in America every year.

While there is no conclusive evidence that alcohol causes violence, it is clearly a strong influencing factor. Its ability to impair judgement, increase aggressiveness, and heighten impulsive behavior all lead to higher risks for violence. It is believed that these are why crimes generally occur. Alcohol can be enjoyed, but it must be consumers must remain responsible for themselves and their actions, whether or not they are impaired.

People can also entertain the idea of enjoying the benefits of choosing to abstain from alcohol use. For those who abstain, there is no risk of developing a dependency or experiencing other problems related to alcohol use. This allows less chance for alcohol related violence and death. Responsible decisions can be made by each individual, whether or not to drink; if they do choose to drink, being able to control themselves is the most important factor in limiting any problem.


1. U.S. Department of Education, “Youth & Alcohol: Selected Reports to the Surgeon General,” 1993.

2. Cohen, L., Baer, N., & Satterwhite, P. (1991). The relationship between alcohol and other drugs, and violence. Martinez, CA: Contra Costa County Health Services Department.

3. National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, “http://www.health.org”

4. Blaser, J. (1995). Violence and substance abuse in rural America. http://www.ncrel.org/ncrel/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/drugfree/v1blaser.htm

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