PIRE Publication - Transporting young passengers while impaired: The state of the law


Objective: This study sought to expand public health knowledge about the legal and policy aspects of DUI-child endangerment laws, and analyze the extent to which jurisdictions give priority to the protection of children. Methods: We performed original legal research to locate and code driving-under-the-influence (DUI)-child endangerment laws across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, enabling us to compile a baseline legal dataset. Results: Only 42 of the 51 jurisdictions address DUI-child endangerment in their statutes. Of the jurisdictions that do,the most comprehensive policies and those most protective of the safety of child passengers are not available in many jurisdictions. However, we found no significant relationship between the strength (comprehensiveness) of DUI-child endangerment laws and the proportion of child fatalities by a driver with a BAC≥.08. Conclusions: Additional work needs to be done to improve state laws on DUI-child endangerment. The 9 jurisdictions that do not directly address this public health harm can enact laws to do so, and the 42 jurisdictions that already have laws can enhance their approaches to prioritize the protection of children. We suggest that future research include a close examination of the impact of DUI-child endangerment laws.

Thomas, S.
Kelley-Baker, T.
Romano, E.
Treffers, R.
Cannon, C. L.