We all know that driving under the influence is unwise and dangerous, with potential consequences that should convince anyone that they shouldn’t do it. Yet, close to 200,000 Californians are arrested for DUI every year. What makes a driver decide that it’s okay to get behind the wheel after drinking?
Rational Choice Theory suggests that crimes are committed when a person believes committing the crime offers more benefits with lower costs than not committing the crime. The theory does not suggest that a person draws a line through a blank sheet of paper and lists the pros and cons, but rather that people are rational enough to weigh the options, even if subconsciously. While there are many critics of this theory and it surely doesn’t apply to all crimes, in terms of the driving under the influence, there may be some truth to the theory.
Although the effects of alcohol can distort a person’s decision-making skills—and this must surely figure into some individual’s decision to drive after driving—studies and empirical evidence suggest that many individuals make a rational choice to drive after drinking based on achieving the intended outcome (arriving at a destination) between the costs and inconvenience of not driving versus the cheaper and more convenient method of driving oneself and the probability of getting arrested for driving under the influence or some other detrimental consequence.