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The Contender
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License suspension is appropriate for DUI

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/11/2016 Category: Cars
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 928 times Debate No: 84540
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




80% of people who receive DUI's have a history of major alcohol problems ( Up to 65% have lifelong pyschiatric problems ( Therefore, license suspension tends to affect people with addiction problems and/ or mental illness.

Although it is cruel to disproportionately punish people who have serious problems via license suspension, it could be rationalized IF there was evidence it was effective. Unfortunately, studies have shown that license suspension does not decrease the overall recidivism rate for DUI offenders. The rate is approximately 35% regardless (file:///C://sers/Tyler/Downloads/811991-DWI_Recidivism_in_USA-tsf-rn.pdf).

If suspensions cannot objectively be shown to decrease the recidivism rate, how can we rationalize them?

A 35% recidivism rate is remarkably low compared to the 68% recidivism rate for crime in general in the US ( Therefore, the problem of drunk driving is relatively controlled.

If I believe the problem is relatively controlled, then why do I think we need to change things at all? Drunk driving costs the country $182 billion each year ( So even if the recidivism rate is controlled relative to other crimes, it is still a major issue.

From a logical perspective, removing someone's ability to drive can not be expected to teach someone to drive sober again once they have their license reinstated. As mentioned above, DUI recipients typically have major addiction and mental illness problems. Combine these problems with the excessive difficulty of acquiring or maintaining employment without the availability of a car, problems due to having a criminal record, an average cost of $20,000 in fines and insurance premiums, and severe social stigma and it quickly becomes hard to continue rationalizing the need for license suspensions(

Removing license suspensions will not in any way be letting DUI recipients 'off the hook' for their crime, but it will increase the likelihood they can change. It's only logically to try and make a life of drinking and driving asymptotically unstable. In other words, we should be making the drinking-and-driving lifestyle something that needs to be actively maintained, not the result of a failure to change one's life. When you suspend someone's license you're essentially writing an absence note for their boss.

Instead, ignition interlocks allow people to continue driving while eliminating the risk of them drinking and driving. The devices are known to be incredibly unlikely to fail and are known to decrease recidivism by two-thirds ( Therefore, ignition interlocks will decrease recidivism while encouraging DUI recipients to change their lives. They can also be billed directly to the offenders which would save tax payers money. An ignition interlock system actually creates an added barrier to drinking and driving that license suspension cannot match. Those who have been given license suspensions are breaking the law and risking years in jail even if they're sober when they illegally drive( For that reason, it's reasonable to suspect that someone who already has a DUI and is driving on a suspended license in order to get to work every day would be inclined to rationalize drinking and driving again. Also, this disproportionately hurts the poor. The rich can choose not to work; the poor and middle class cannot.

I don't care if you consider people who receive DUI's as human beings or not, pragmatically speaking, we need to change the way we handle DUI's because the current plan is not working. All we currently have is an archaic, deterrent-based criminal justice system. The major limitation of a deterrent-based criminal justice system is: A deterrent system fails as soon as it's implemented.


You make very good points. I believe that reform of this system could be looked into and made into something that works better than what's currently going on, however, this debate is on 'License suspension is appropriate for DUI'. The missing part to this title is 'on the First Offence'. I say this because receiving a second DUI carries much stricter punishment (

I feel that suspending a licence is a good first step for a first offence DUI. Yes, they could do it again, and the second time around they could potentially harm a man, woman or child while driving drunk. It should be noted though that even though most that drink and drive (as your statistics show) are likely not going to stop, there ARE those that will stop. We should give everyone the benefit of the doubt when applying consequences for the first time, otherwise we are dooming ourselves to strict punishments across the board.

The reason a license suspension is appropriate for a DUI, on the first offence, is because IF they commit the crime again, then they are not only driving under the influence, they are also driving with a suspended licence. This, along with the second DUI are indicators that more action needs to take place to bring justice to this person who is committing the crime.

Another short point as to why a license suspension is appropriate for a DUI is that the alternatives (equipping a vehicle with an Ignition Interlock Device) is actually very costly ( $60-$150 for installation, and around $60 to $80 per month for device monitoring and calibration. Those who can't afford this will need state support on the costs, and how hard is it to have someone else blow into the machine, or go to and purchase a few bits and make something that blows for you: ( *NOTE THAT THIS METHOD IS NOT FOOL-PROOF, AND USUALLY DOES NOT WORK WITH NEWER DEVICES, WHICH MONITOR HEAT AND PRESSURE.

So, to summarize, you make valid points which do make sense and I agree that reform of the consequences might help with many factors of DUI offenders, however I still believe that license suspension is appropriate for a DUI charge on the first offence because honest people can make mistakes. I do not feel that it is the end-all solution, though.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, you're absolutely right about the mislabeling. I should have labeled the debate with the caveat 'on the first offense.' Further offenses require much more individual care and consideration than I think we can fairly debate.

However, I believe you misinterpreted the statistics on recidivism rates that I provided. DUI has a recidivism rate of 35% whether license suspensions are given or not. This means people convicted of DUI are roughly twice as likely to NOT repeat their offense as are people who commit other crimes (68%). In other words, regardless of whether license suspensions are part of the punishment or not, DUI punishment/ reform is actually quite effective as it stands today (in most states).

As I mentioned before, near the end of round 1, ignition interlocks further decrease recidivism rates. The lower the recidivism rates are the more successful our criminal justice system appears to be. In terms of cost, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the savings to the public to be approximately $3 to $7 for every dollar spent on ignition interlock systems ( Combine those savings with the current $182 billion dollar cost of DUI in this country and saying license suspensions are somehow cheaper seems a lot less reasonable. Especially when you consider 1.2 million people receive DUI's every year. If license suspensions are enacted (which they currently are in all 50 states), that's a potential of 1.2 million working Americans that could be forced into temporary unemployment. That doesn't help our economy. What does help our economy though, is 1.2 million DUI convicts who would need to have their ignition interlock systems installed and maintained.

Because there is an absence of data pertaining to the proportion of DUI convicts who wouldn't be able to afford ignition interlock systems, we can only speculate. However, whatever the proportion is, even if it's 100%, it cannot cost more than the $0.00 that is earned by those who have suspended licenses and are unable to work. Because ignition interlock systems save the government money, as I mentioned above, those who cannot afford interlock systems can likely have them subsidized by the government. The government can use a portion of the savings and still have a net decrease in costs. I am also in favor of those who would prefer to have their license suspended to be able to make that choice. That choice should be taken into account though if they decide to drive on their suspended license. In sum, saying license suspensions are more costly than ignition interlock systems is largely unfounded.

Therefore, ignition interlock systems are more effective and cheaper than license suspensions, based on the numerous sources of data that I have provided. If a punishment is cheaper and more effective and grants the convicted more freedom, what more could a government expect?

As an aside, I must say that DUI punishment has nothing to do with injury, crashes, death, or reckless driving. If you research the potential crimes that one can be charged with, a much more significant charge would always come into play if anything other than the act of driving a vehicle while intoxicated has occurred. Let me explain, if, while drunk, someone is swerving, speeding, going through red lights, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc., they would be charged with either 'aggravated DUI' or 'gross negligence.' If they crash or kill/ injure someone, they would be charged with 'murder,' 'attempted murder,' 'manslaughter,' attempted manslaughter,' or 'gross negligence.' In other words, DUI punishment is only relevant in terms of answering the question 'How are we going to stop people from drinking and driving?' Any attempt to punish them for other crimes is not only unfair it shows blatant ignorance of the legal system. More importantly, it will not reduce crime or increase justice.

The answer is NOT license suspension. I believe the answer is ignition interlock systems and, potentially, psychiatric or addiction treatment.


First, let me say that I agree with much of what you've said. In fact - I will applaud you and concede this argument with one last thought: success rates in regards to psychiatric or addiction treatment - but I know that there is SOME success with them, which is better than none (if it were not used).
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you. I agree psychiatric and addiction treatment is something that may not be supported by studies. I would imagine it would be, but I can only suppose.


Spedunkle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Clyde2337 2 years ago
Ok, go ahead and accept the debate.
Posted by sara_ann_dee 2 years ago
I would like to debate this, please.
Posted by Clyde2337 2 years ago
Well this is a debate website, DATXDUDE. Can you debate that?
Posted by DATXDUDE 2 years ago
I believe that a fair sentence for a DUI would have to consist of at least 6 years of slave labor in a Russian Gulag.
Posted by Robkwoods 2 years ago
Sorry wrong debate... multiple tabs open
Posted by Clyde2337 2 years ago
Posted by Robkwoods 2 years ago
"danger of 538 electors overriding the will of millions of voters"
We could do without them.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.