People often ask us about drunk driving car crashes and the law. In many states, there is mandatory jail time for driving while intoxicated, including causing drunk driving crashes. States enact these laws because driving drunk is such a serious matter.
Drunk driving car crashes kill a person about every 40 minutes, and drunk driving crashes injure a person about every minute. As you can see, drunk driving is very prevalent.
In the United States, drunk driving is "a major contributor to traffic crashes" and "is responsible for about one-third of all accident fatalities".
What makes matters worse is that people who commit DUIs tend to do so repeatedly. A study found that over 80% of drivers arrested for DUI had another DUI within a five-year period. The study also found that those with 3 or more previous convictions were 6 times as likely to be in an alcohol-related crash as non-drink/drug offenders. That is why most states have strong punishments on the books when it comes to being convicted of drunk driving.
In many states, there are mandatory minimum jail sentences for drivers who cause a car crash while driving under the influence. If you have had too much to drink and drive into another vehicle or injure someone, you could be facing serious jail time and fines if convicted of drunk driving.
Drunk driving also affects not only the driver, but others who are also in the vehicle. It likewise affects other cars on the road. Someone who is driving drunk can end up killing themselves and others. In fact, in 2015 alone, nearly 10,000 people were killed in an alcohol-related crash involving a DUI.
In the United States, drivers are considered to be drunk if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 %. A BAC of 0.08 % means a person has 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of their blood.
In some states though drunk driving laws do not allow even one drink for someone who is underage in order to be considered under the influence or intoxicated. For example, in California if you are under 21 then you cannot have a BAC of 0.01%. If you are over 21 then you cannot be found driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher unless it was because of prescribed medications or other legal substances which contain alcohol.
With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 %, a person’s ability to drive is significantly impaired. They are less alert than normal and their reflexes are slowed. Their depth perception, distance acuity, and peripheral vision are impaired. Their coordination is also affected. They are at risk of causing drunk driving car crashes.
Some people notice these signs earlier than others. Some people feel the effects of alcohol within 15-30 minutes after drinking, while some may not feel it until 2-3 hours later. It can also depend on a person's weight, gender, and how much they have to eat before drinking.
Drunk driving crashes are a legal matter. If a person is injured or killed in drunk driving crashes, the driver can be charged with a crime. But there are interventions that help to reduce the incidence of drunk driving.
The following have been proven effective:
As you can see, there are a number of interventions that help to prevent drunk driving crashes. There are also some interventions that have been tried but that have not worked so well.
Some things have not been shown to prevent drunk driving car crashes:
There are also things you can do as an individual to help prevent drunk driving car accidents. Here are a few of them:
How to Stay Safe on the Road
The best way to not be involved in a drunk driving crash is by not drinking and driving. Even if one drink may not affect you, there is no guarantee that it will affect others similarly. That's why it's important for everyone to plan ahead when they can't drive home after consuming alcohol at a party or bar.
The solution is prevention: By understanding how we put ourselves at risk during an impaired state, drivers can begin to make positive changes and prevent drunk driving crashes.
You Can Still Enjoy a Safe and Sober Life!
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, please reach out to a treatment provider today.