the objective of this research is the analysis of the manner in which the issue of drinking and driving has been incorporated into the political agenda in brazil. between 1980 and 1990 the incidence of traffic accidents accounted for nearly half of the deaths caused by external factors. the numbers continue to increase. it was only during the last two decades that traffic accidents have been defined as a public health issue and incorporated within the discussions about accidents, violence and unnatural deaths. furthermore, the high occurrence of traffic accidents combined with the prevalence of drinking and driving has become a problem that must be addressed by public policy.