Each year, thousands of car accidents with drunk drivers cause tragedy and grief, making it one of the top causes of automobile accidents. Drinking impairs your senses (vision and hearing) and results in decreased muscle coordination and slower reaction times — not a good combination for driving a car. In 2007 alone, about 13,000 wrongful deaths occurred in fatal car accidents with drunk drivers.
Since 1992, our San Diego car accident lawyers have seen relatives grieve upon the wrongful death or serious permanent injury of a loved one. The drunk driver often survives, but tragically, innocent people are usually killed. This paradox can only be remedied with stricter laws, better enforcement and increased sobriety checkpoints. The goal is to arrest more people that drive under the influence of alcohol (DUI) to get them off the road.
Blood Alcohol Content Level as It Relates to Drunk Driving
In all 50 states, the legal limit for DUI is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher. Your BAC level is defined as the percentage of alcohol in your blood, and it is the most common method of measuring one’s drunkenness. While a BAC reading of .08 or higher makes it illegal to drive in the U.S., a person is still somewhat impaired by a lower level BAC. Here are the effects of differing degrees of intoxication:
BAC Level: .01 to .03 — An average person appears normal. Impairment is subtle and can be detected by special tests that show a slight decline in visual and multitasking functions.
BAC Level: .03 to .06 — A person begins to feel a calming sensation. The effects range from mild euphoria, increased sense of well-being, relaxation, talkativeness, joyousness and decrease inhibition. Impairment increases as alertness, judgment, coordination and concentration begin to be affected.
BAC Level: .06 to .10 — When a person reaches this level of intoxication, obvious physical effects begin to appear. Reflexes, reasoning, depth perception, distance viewing, peripheral vision and glare now become serious impairments to a driver and car accidents become more likely. Drunk drivers at the legal BAC limit of .08 are 11 times more likely to get in a car accident than a sober person.
BAC Level: .11 to .20 — These high intoxication levels show a person that would appear very drunk. Behavioral changes include over-expression, emotional swings (angry or sad) and the person is likely to be rowdy. Impairments include a slower reaction time, loss of motor control, staggering and slurred speech — definitely not the characteristics of someone that you would want driving.
BAC Level: .20 & Up — Having this high a BAC results in an individual that begins to lose any and all judgment and motor function. There is severe motor impairment, loss of consciousness, loss of memory (blacking out) and — as BAC levels approach .30 and higher — death by alcohol poisoning becomes very possible.
What this all means is that no one should ever drive a car after having a drink. Even one drink — which would lead to a low BAC level — has been proven to impair vision and can make for a more distracted driver. As BAC levels increase, drivers become more and more likely to cause a car accident as these effects only worsen.
All Drunk Driving Accidents Are Preventable
As car accident lawyers, we believe that there is absolutely no reason that anyone should drive a car after drinking. Police officers across the country are also doubling their efforts to arrest DUI offenders, who often lose their license upon even their first such offense. There are many ways to combat this problem, but the easiest way to prevent a DUI is to educate people to make better decisions. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and other organizations, are also committed to preventing drunk driving through education.
There are many ways that you can prevent drunk driving accidents. For instance, something as simple as a designated driver saves people from car accidents. By putting a sober person behind the wheel, everyone can feel free to have a good time at the bar without putting anyone’s life at risk on the road.
Another solution, this one on a large scale, was to raise the minimum drinking age nation-wide from 18-years old to 21 in July of 1984. In 2007 alone, 826 lives were saved by 21-year old minimum drinking age laws according to Traffic Safety Facts. In some states, DUI offenders are required to install a key-ignition lock on their car that has an attached breathalyzer. If these drivers attempt to drive under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, the car will not start.
As car accident attorneys, we have the ability to bring the wrongdoers to civil justice, while the criminal charges are left to the District Attorney. Sometimes, the D.A. will ask the injured person’s car accident attorney for help with restitution (a way for the DUI offender to make reparations for the harm that was caused).
The good news is that the drunk driving accident statistics have actually declined in recent years. The total number of fatal car accidents involving a DUI have declined for two years in a row (after a decade high of 13,582 in 2005), and the fatality rate, per 100 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT), in car accidents hit a record low of 0.43 in 2007. These car accident statistics are still not low enough, but it is a start.
If we can continue to educate people on the dangers of drunk-driving (DUI) car accidents, then maybe we will one day eliminate these terrible auto accidents. Just remember, one drink is too many if you plan on driving, so always have a sober person take care of the driving.
Call Us Now if You’ve Been Injured by a Drunk Driver
If you’ve been injured in a car accident with a drunk driver then call us now at 1-858-551-2090 or click here for a FREE consultation with an experienced automobile accident attorney. Your insurance claim will be handled professionally at our San Diego law office, which has two decades of experience dealing primarily with automobile accident injuries.
We look forward to providing good advice so that you can make smart decisions about your case. There is no fee if no recovery.