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NHTSA warns of alcohol consumption and driving

Forty percent of all traffic crashes in Florida and the rest of the U.S. are caused by alcohol and mind-impairing drugs. Alcohol can impair a person's motor skills, judgment, and reaction times, and that effect is even greater on those under the age of 21, who are still physically developing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more to say about the effects of drinking and driving, some of which may be familiar and some unfamiliar. Besides judgment, alcohol can blur one's vision, slow the ability to focus, and impair the perception of speed, distance, and movement. It can even handicap one's ability to distinguish between colors.

Drivers caught with a blood alcohol content of .08 g/dL (grams per deciliter) or higher are arrested and subjected to strict penalties, including the suspension of their driver's license. Under the law, drivers can be convicted even with a BAC lower than .08. Drivers who are arrested will be subjected to a breathalyzer test and possibly a blood or urine test; these are allowed under the law of implied consent.

It's important, then, for friends and relatives to look out for those who are intoxicated. The latter should be taken home by cab or by a designated driver, or they should stay where they're at. Nothing removes alcohol from the circulatory system but time.

The question now is what victims of a drunk driving accident can do to receive compensation. Drunk driving is obviously a form of negligent behavior, and the police will have all the evidence of the other driver's intoxicated state. Victims may benefit from consulting with a lawyer to obtain this evidence and so develop an accident claim against the guilty party's auto insurance carrier. The lawyer might bring in investigators, and he or she may be able to negotiate for the settlement on the client's behalf.

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