Police make more arrests for driving under the influence than any other crime. According to the FBI, there were 1.78 million arrests for DUI in 1985.
Yet while drunk driving is still a major problem, the corner appears to have been turned. Since 1982, the number of traffic fatalities has stayed constant at about 44,000 a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the percentage of deaths where at least one driver or pedestrian was legally intoxicated has slowly but steadily declined, from 46 percent in 1982 to 40.8 percent in 1985.
Meanwhile, in the 10 years since 1976, arrests have gone up. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports says the number of arrests for driving under the influence (including narcotics) were 533.8 per 100,000 people in 1976. In 1985, there were 740.4 arrests.
That increase, according to MADD, is primarily due to better apprehension. "It's not that there's more drunk driving," says president Norma Phillips -- just that police are catching more of the drunks out there.
The pressure on drunk drivers is continuing. Last week, the American Medical Association endorsed cutting the blood alcohol limit from the standard 0.10 percent to 0.05, citing studies that impairment is already significant at the lower level.