The number of Massachusetts motorists arrested for drunken driving has dropped nearly 30 percent since the mid-1990s, says the Boston globe. Police and social workers attribute the decline to a greater public awareness of the dangers of drunken driving and to less-intense law enforcement. Arraignments on drunken driving charges fell from 23,746 in 1993 to 16,808 in 2003; the number of drivers asked by state police to take breathalyzer tests dropped 25 percent between 1996 and 2004.
During roughly the same 10-year period, deaths from drunken driving crashes declined by 2 percent. However, in a trend causing worry, deaths in Massachusetts were up 13 percent in the last six years for which figures were available, 1998-2003. Greater media attention to fatalities caused by drunken driving and toughened laws have triggered cultural changes that have made drunken driving much less acceptable. Party hosts are not afraid to take the keys from an intoxicated guest. Designated drivers are commonplace. Bartenders and waitresses are more reluctant to serve the obviously drunk.