We’ve written before about the many hazards that drunk drivers post on our state’s roads, and as summer approaches, the number of drivers under the influence steadily increases, hitting a peak between July 4 and Labor Day. Consider this: according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 1.1 million people arrested for DUI/DWI each year only represent about one percent of the self-reported 121 million incidents of “alcohol-impaired driving” annually. The CDC also reports that drunk drivers caused nearly 10,000 deaths in 2014 alone, which accounts for about one-third of all car crash fatalities.
These statistics are shocking enough, but they only account for drivers under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; if you add in other drugs, particularly marijuana as it becomes legalized for recreational use in more jurisdictions and more common for medicinal use in others, the number of impaired drivers – and accidents caused by them – will continue to rise. Marijuana users were 25 percent more likely to be involved in accidents than those without evidence of marijuana in their systems.
Many people who are arrested for DUI/DWI state that they “felt fine to drive,” or that they were sure they could drive just fine even after drinking. Science tells us, though, that this just isn’t the case. At approximately .5 BAC, which occurs after only about three drinks for an average-sized person and is less than the legal limit for DUI in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a driver will have:
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of ability to focus and control small muscles
- Lowered alertness
- Reduced coordination
- Difficulty controlling the steering wheel properly
- Lowered ability to respond to changes in traffic levels, weather, road conditions or other emergencies requiring quick critical thinking skills
These issues exaggerate with additional alcohol intake, and by the time a driver reaches .08 BAC (the legal limit for alcohol use before the law assumes the driver is “impaired”), there are also be:
- Poor muscle coordination (balance suffers, muscles become jerky, speech is slurred)
- Reaction time is markedly slower
- Judgment, self-control and reasoning all suffer
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired depth perception
- Slower information processing
With all these issues present, it’s easier to understand why drunk drivers are responsible for so many injury-causing and fatal accidents each year. If you or someone you love has been hurt because of the irresponsible actions of an impaired driver, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages and other related costs. You should consult an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more.