Sample Research Paper on An analysis of the Drunk Driving Policy in Oklahoma with regard to Driving under Influence (DUI) Program

Introduction

The best way to address criminal justice issues is to formulate effective policies and have a framework for implementation of the same. It is meaningless to have a policy that cannot be implemented because it fails to serve the intended purpose. Every state has its own policies that direct people on how to deal with various criminal justice issues in the society. Criminal justice is guided by a number of policies that define the extent to which an act is criminal and the punitive measures that should be taken against the offenders (Geppert & Bogenschutz, 2009). The primary aim of criminal justice is to enhance social order by mitigating crime the best way possible. This is done by ensuring that the criminals face the law but this can only be possible where the law enforcement personnel carry out their work diligently.

The number of offences that are brought to justice determines an effective system of criminal justice and this enhances the confidence of the public in the system.  Although the effectiveness of the criminal justice system determines the confidence of the public in the government, especially the judiciary it is hard to fully implement the criminal justice policies (Waldman, 2013). This is because the players find it hard to balance justice and the goals of crime prevention and control. At the societal level, criminal justice is very helpful s it helps enhance security and mitigate the unnecessary deaths that result from criminal activities.

Different criminal activities are handled differently depending on the state that one resides in.  The effectiveness of criminal justice policies also differs from one state to another depending on the mechanisms put in place to prevent and control crime (Geppert & Bogenschutz, 2009). In Oklahoma, driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug is regarded as a crime and there is a policy that dictates the actions that should be taken against persons who are found guilty.  The drunk driving policy that addresses the issue of driving under the influence was formulated in response to the high number of accidents in the country over the years.

Accidents that result from drunk driving can be prevented by ensuring that tight measures are put in place to discourage the offence. Oklahoma is one of the regions with the highest number of fatalities resulting from road accidents and this can be prevented by making sure that the implementation of the drunk driving policy is efficient. The persons found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances are faced with various punitive measures including jail term, penalties and fines and suspension of the license (Geppert & Bogenschutz, 2009). The type of punitive measure that one gets depends on the circumstances.  This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the driving under influence policy in Oklahoma, specifically the Aaron Gillming Act. The paper describes how the Act was drafted, passed, implemented and evaluated to enhance the understanding of the driving under influence policy in Oklahoma. The paper uses the Seven-Stage model by Welsh and Harris. The review of literature on criminal justice policies enhances the quality of the paper.

Road Safety in Oklahoma

The high number of automobile accidents in the United States necessitated the formulation of polices addressing the major cause of the accident, impaired driving. This is one of the most common health problems in the country that entails heavy campaigns against the use of drugs and other substances. The issue of driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances in the country has been a social challenge in the United States for decades but there seems to be no lasting solution yet.   Despite the campaigns that have been held on the adverse impacts of drunken driving over the years, the country still loses many people to road accidents.  In formulating the most appropriate policy, it is crucial to consider the ethical implications of the proposed actions (Geppert & Bogenschutz, 2009).

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs, including some prescribed drugs is considered a criminal offense under the Oklahoma drunk and driving policy. To discourage the offense, there are various punitive measures that the perpetrators face. The first offenders face a fine of not less than $ 1,000 and a jail term that does not exceed one year. Although their ignition interlock device is not required, their licenses are suspended for a period of 30 days (Hunsucker et. al, 2007).  The second offenders face more harsh punishment that entails serving a jail term that does not exceed five years and a fine of $ 2,500. In addition, they stay without using their driving license for six months and are required to submit their ignition interlock device.

The third offenders face stiff penalties that include a jail term of one to ten years, a fine or penalty amounting to $ 5,000 and their licenses are suspended for a whole year. Their ignition interlock device is also required.  All these punitive measures are meant to enhance sanity on the roads. For the authorities to certify that one was driving under the influence of alcohol, they have to check the alcohol content in their blood. The drunk driving policy dictates the level of blood alcohol content that constitute driving under influence.  The alcohol content in the blood of persons under the age of 21 years should be zero because they are not allowed to drink. Those above 21 years are allowed to drink only up to a level that shows a 0.8 alcohol content in the blood (Hunsucker et. al, 2007).

In some cases, the individual may avoid taking the chemical test, especially when they are guilty but the law does not allow this. They are subjected to an automatic license suspension and a fine.  Any person found driving under the influence is required to take a drug and substances assessment program according to the Aaron Gillming Act of 2010. This is meant to prevent future occurrence of the offence by controlling the drug and substances abuse in Oklahoma.  It is estimated that 2 people in Oklahoma die every day as a result of driving under influence but this can be changed.  Going by the fatal-crash data compiled from 1982 to 2005, it is possible to have the road accidents reduced by fully implementing the traffic regulations in the region (Waldman, 2013). Most of the road fatalities are related to impaired driving but the implementation of the related regulations over the past decades have accounted for more than 44% reduction in the deaths. This implies that it is possible for Oklahoma to change the situation of road accidents completely by applying the basic laws related to driving under the influence.

The Aaron Gillming Act

This is one of the primary laws that regulate the drinking under influence policy in the region. The Act was formed in response to the high rates of car accidents in the region as a result of drunken driving. The Act requires that the persons found driving under influence of alcohol and drugs to enroll in a drugs evaluation and assessment program. The assessment is done by a certified agency that deals with drugs and drug addiction. Regarding the evaluation fees, the Act requires the persons found driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances to reimburse the assessing agency. The assessment takes place before the persons are sentenced by the municipal authorities as the assessor’s report helps in determining the most appropriate sentence. The Act was passed in 2010 and it has had an impact on the occurrence of road accidents due to drunken driving. The formation of the Act is attributed to the Aaron Gillming foundation, created to help the victims of accidents caused as a result of drunk driving.

Planned change in addressing criminal justice issues

There are various ways of addressing the criminal justice issues by ensuring that the law enforcement agencies are efficient in their roles. Planned change is one way that the government can enhance the implementation of criminal justice policies.  Planned change helps in enhancing the success of the interventions implemented to make a criminal justice policy effective. The policy makers must have very specific goals for planned change to be effective.  It is also important to consider the welfare of the affected parties in planned change to reach at achievable goals. The type of leadership required to implement the planned change in criminal justice must be flexible and ready to serve as the change agents.  This implies that a conservative style of leadership cannot implement the criminal justice policies effectively.

The Seven Stage Model

In the case of Oklahoma drunk driving policy, the authorities can use the seven-stage model by Welsh and Harris to enhance the policy’s efficiency.  The model is efficient because it enables policy-makers to identify the barriers to the effective implementation of a particular policy. The seven-stage model aims at enhancing changes in the criminal justice system by taking a problem-solving approach (Welsh & Harris, 1999). This involves the use of a rational process of planning to implement change in identified areas of the criminal justice policy. The model is useful when creating new policies or revising the already existing ones such as the driving under influence program of the Oklahoma’s drunk driving policy. Problem analysis in the DUI policy was effective with regard to the identification of the relevant stakeholders who include the lawmakers, the citizens and children. Some of the barriers that lead to poor implementation of the policy include inefficient judicial procedures and guidelines, influenced by the social system of the region.

Problem analysis

The first phase of the policy entails analyzing the issue at hand by carrying out qualitative and quantitative research on the issue. At this stage, one has to collect information regarding the history of the problem, the persons affected possible causes of the issue.  One must also consider the theories involved in the problem and possibility of other interventions that have worked in other places regarding a similar policy (Welsh & Harris, 1999).  This stage is evident in the Oklahoma drunk driving policy as the regulations such as the Aaron Gillming Act was formulated as a response to the identified problem of drunk driving in the region. The foundation that pushed for the Act was formed when the founder lost her son to road accident due to drunk driving. The suffering that the founder went through made her realize that the victims of drunken driving accidents suffer a lot and thus pushed for the enactment of the Act that would help such victims.

Setting goals

The second phase entails setting goals to address the problem effectively. This stage involves identifying the long-term and short-term objectives of the planned change (Welsh & Harris, 1999). The major goal of the Aaron Gillming Act was to help the victims of road accidents caused by driver who operate under influence of alcohol and substances. While goals relate to a wider range of achievements, objectives are more specific.  By identifying the goals accurately, one is able to define the most suitable objectives. The short-term objective of the Act was to see the number of road accidents in Oklahoma reduce. In the long-run, the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers is set to reduce due to the reduction in the number of persons affected by drug addiction.

Five years since the Aaron Gillming Act was enacted, the short-term objectives are not yet achieved. The number of road accidents between 1994 and 2012 increased by 10% in the region, despite the effort by law enforcement to implement the Aaron Gillming Act in 2010 (Hittle, 2013). On goals and objectives of the DUI program, there is still some revision to be done concerning the objectives. The goal of the policy is clear but the objectives need to be more specific to address the issues t hand. The setting of the goals of the policy involved parties such as the highway police in Oklahoma and the lawmakers

Program design

The third stage entails the designing of the program or policy in question.  The information obtained from the data collected from the previous stages is used to define the persons affected by the policy, the extent of the effect that the policy have on them and the cost that might be incurred in implementing or creating a new policy (Welsh & Harris, 1999). This entails accurate definition of the target population in order to design the most appropriate policy. It is also important to define the skills required to operate the new program after the changes have been made to ensure full implementation of the same.  The provisions of the policy as well as the responsible authority are defined at this stage. The Aaron Gillming Act was designed with a view of reducing the population of motorists who are dependent on alcohol. Its design may need to be revised owing to the fact that the Act has not addressed the issue of drunk driving in Oklahoma.  The policy design was mainly influenced by the interventions identified as necessary in ending the high risk of deaths on the roads.  The main intervention approach chosen was including the offenders in the drugs and alcohol evaluation program (Sullivan, 2008). This is a very effective way of addressing the root cause of the problem thus making it easier to achieve the main goals and objectives.  The program does not provide the job descriptions of the persons responsible for implementing the program and this has the potential to negatively affect its effectiveness (Dill & Wells-Parker, 2006).

Action plan

The model proposes action plan as the fourth phase that involves putting in place measures to ensure that the planned change is fully implemented. It defines the tasks that need to be accomplished, the persons responsible for the implementation and the applicable procedures (Welsh & Harris, 1999).  To successfully implement the program, one must identify the resources that need to be acquired or reallocated as well as the personnel required to carry out the tasks. The Aaron Gillming Act defines a clear plan on the way it should be implemented by the qualified assessors and municipal authorities. The qualification of the assessing agency is meant to enhance the effectiveness of their judgment on the level of dependence on drugs. The accuracy of the report by the assessing agency is crucial in determining the sentencing of the persons found driving under influence of alcohol and other substances.

Implementation of the policy

The fifth step is the implementation of the program or policy. It aims at determining the extent to which the program or the policy design is applicable. The stage is helpful in identifying the extent to which the proposed changes are implemented successfully (Welsh & Harris, 1999).  Appropriate mechanisms to communicate to the persons involved are also developed at this stage. The implementation of the Aaron Gillming Act has not been effective as indicated by the number of road accidents in the region that has been occurring even after 2010 (Hittle, 2013). The statistics on road accidents in Oklahoma relative to the country’s rate of road accidents indicate a gap in the implementation of the Aaron Gillming Act. If the regulation was effective, there would be fewer cases of road-related fatalities in Oklahoma, bearing in mind that most of the accidents are as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. There were no mechanisms developed to give feedback to the shareholders and this is probably one of the main reasons the shareholders have not reacted to the issue (Sullivan, 2008).

Evaluation of outcome

Evaluation of outcomes is the sixth stage in the model that entails determining whether the program or policy met the intended purpose. It is clear that the Aaron Gillming Act has not met the intended purpose in the region (Welsh & Harris, 1999). Some of the activities carried out in this stage include specifying the research design to be used in analyzing the outcomes of the program or policy implementation. The society was also involved through the field research carried out to determine the extent to which the policy was necessary.  The main resources required to formulate the program included both financial and non-financial resources from the government and other non-governmental institutions (Vick & Rhoades, 2010). Non-financial resources include the personnel required to execute the functions necessary to see the regulation meet its set goals.  Most of the resources were used in carrying out research on the extent to which the drug addiction was problem in the region.  The program needs to be revised with regard to evaluation of outcomes.

Reassessment and review of the program

The last phase is the reassessment and review of the program or policy. It entails putting into practice all the actions identified in the preceding stages. The major activities involved at this stage include initiating the program and providing feedback to the users and stakeholders of the program (Welsh & Harris, 1999). With regard to the Aaron Gillming Act, it is evident that the regulation needs to be revised to meet its objectives. The research design used in evaluation needs to be changed to include both qualitative and quantitative techniques including data collection. The potential confounding factors were identified as lack of effective judicial procedures and high rate of drug addiction in the region (Dill & Wells-Parker, 2006). Despite the fact that the factors were identified, there has been limited effort in addressing the same.  However, some of the evaluation results were useful in formulating and implementing the Aaron Gillming Act.  The goals and objectives of the policy were realistic and measurable but they lacked the aspect of timeliness thus affecting the pace at which they have been implemented.  There are no recent changes aimed at addressing the issue of driving under influence and this may affect the overall achievement of the objectives.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The seven-stage model is applicable in changing the situation in Oklahoma with regard to deaths caused by driving under influence of alcohol and other substances.  Among the issues that make it hard for the policy to be implemented effectively is the high number of alcoholics in the region. Most of road accidents occur due to impaired driving.  It is hard for drunk drivers to observe the traffic rules, making it almost impossible to evade road accidents (Talley, 2015).  Families face financial problems as a result of the driving under influence policy when the breadwinner is fined are penalized for the offence.  The main goal of the driving under influence program is to mitigate the number of deaths caused by reckless driving by drunk drivers.  This is a main goal that may take some time to be accomplished but in the short-run it is possible to implement specific objectives aimed at reducing the death rates. The main objective of the program is to reduce the road fatalities by addressing the drug addiction issue in the region. Fighting the high rate of drug addiction in the region is likely to reduce the number of road-related fatalities in the region.

To influence the outcome of the policy, the regulations of the driving under influence included the Aaron Gillming Act in 2010. The Act requires the persons found guilty of driving under influence to attend the drug and alcohol evaluation program to address the high rate of drug addiction in the region (Vick & Rhoades, 2010). This is a positive move that is likely to influence the number of road-related fatalities by addressing the root cause of the problem. In accordance with the seven-stage model of planned change, the main problem was identified as drug addiction thus creating the need for the region to start programs to reduce drug addiction.  The problem has been in existence for decades but the interventions that have been put in place are not operational thus there is need to revise the policy. The main potential cause examined in the policy was drug addiction as it is identified as the main issue.

References

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Dill, P. L., & Wells-Parker, E. (2006). Court-mandated treatment for convicted drinking drivers. Alcohol Research & Health, 29(1), 41.

Geppert, C. M. A., &Bogenschutz, M. P. (2009). Ethics in substance use disorder treatment. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 32(2), 283-297.

Hittle, S. (2013, September 14). Unlike Nation, Oklahoma Is Failing to Reduce Drunken-Driving Deaths | Oklahoma Watch.

Hunsucker, J., Edge, B., &Nesci, J. (2007). Oklahoma DUI defense: the law and practice. Tucson, AZ:Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company.

Law, V. (2015, September 29). Why Are So Many Women Behind Bars in Oklahoma? With twice as many women in prison as in other states, Oklahoma is the female-incarceration capital of the United States. The Nation.