What Are the Dangers of Drunk and Impaired Driving?

Posted in Drunk Driving on December 28, 2017

Drunk and impaired driving is an epidemic on Tennessee roadways, but it receives even more attention around the holidays. That’s because many people get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and exceeding the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC), which is 0.08 percent nationwide.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 30 people die in alcohol-related vehicle crashes in the U.S. every day—or one alcohol-related fatality every 50 minutes. Strict enforcement and harsh penalties for being caught driving under the influence have helped reduce the number of drunk-driving fatalities by one-third over the past three decades, but more than 10,000 people still die annually in America in alcohol-related car accidents.

At Matt Hardin Law, we know how dangerous it is when drivers get behind the wheel with BACs over the legal limit. We do everything in our power to help victims get compensation for their accident-related expenses, including medical bills and lost wages, when they’re injured by drunk or impaired drivers.

If you or someone you love was hurt in an alcohol-related crash that was caused by a negligent driver, we want to hear from you. Get in touch with our Nashville auto accident lawyers today by dialing (615) 200-1111 or completing a free online form.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Ability to Drive?

As alcohol consumption increases, its effects on driving ability become more pronounced. Although the effects can be apparent even when drivers are below the legal limit, reaching a BAC of at least 0.08 percent is when drivers become much more likely to be involved in accidents—not to mention putting themselves at risk of being arrested for driving under the influence.

Various levels of alcohol consumption and intoxication affect drivers in different ways, such as:

  • 0.08 BAC – Upon reaching and exceeding the legal limit, drivers will begin to experience poor muscular coordination. Their balance, speech, vision, and reaction times may be impaired, and they may find it more difficult to maintain an appropriate speed.
  • 0.10 BAC – As intoxication increases, drivers may show obvious signs of impairment. In terms of driving ability, they may struggle to maintain their lanes, resulting in the classic “weaving” that police often see in intoxicated drivers. They also may brake erratically, slowing their vehicles or coming to complete stops much sooner or later than is appropriate for the situation.
  • 0.15 BAC – Drivers with BACs that are approaching twice the legal limit will experience profound difficulties with even routine driving tasks. In addition to experience physical symptoms such as loss of balance and even vomiting, people with BACs of around 0.15 percent may be unable to maintain control of their vehicles, resulting in significant swerving and drifting into other lanes.

Higher levels of impairment result in even more dramatic effects. When people reach BACs of 0.20 percent or higher, their risks of being involved in crashes skyrocket. They also face stiffer penalties in Tennessee, with people convicted of DUI with BACs of 0.20 percent or higher facing mandatory jail time of at least seven consecutive days behind bars.

What Are the Biggest Risk Factors for Drunk Driving?

Avoiding the potentially fatal consequences of drunk and impaired driving often comes down to recognizing the risk factors for the behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that young people face the highest risk of being involved in alcohol-related crashes at all levels of intoxication.

In addition, drivers with BACs of at least 0.08 percent who were involved in fatal crashes were significantly more likely to be between the ages of 21 and 44 years old, with drivers in that age range representing 78 percent of all drivers in fatal alcohol-related accidents.

Finally, drivers with BACs at or above the legal limit who were involved in fatal accidents are 4.5-times more likely to have been previously convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) than drivers involved in fatal accidents who weren’t under the influence of alcohol at the time.

What Consequences Do Impaired Drivers Face?

State and local law enforcement officers are always on the lookout for drunk and impaired drivers. In addition to setting up sobriety checkpoints, they also watch for signs of intoxication, including failure to maintain a lane, driving with headlights off at night, weaving, and driving too fast or too slow for a road’s speed limit. Drivers who are determined to be under the influence face many harsh penalties that can affect their lives for years to come.

In addition to facing license suspension or revocation, jail time, and heavy fines, drivers who are convicted of DUI also may be required to install ignition interlock breathalyzer devices in their vehicles that prevent them from turning on if they detect alcohol.

Impaired drivers also face a significantly heightened risk of being involved in accidents that cause serious and even life-threatening injuries. The NHTSA reports that drivers with BACs of 0.08 percent have around a 250-percent increase in their risk of being involved in a crash, while drivers with BACs of 0.15 percent face risks that are 1000-percent higher than sober drivers.

How Can You Reduce Your Risks?

The best way to avoid the serious and potentially fatal consequences of driving under the influence is to do everything in your power to avoid the situation. You can get home safely after consuming alcohol by:

  • Appointing a designated driver before you leave – If you’re traveling to a place where alcohol will be served with friends or family, make sure a sober driver has been selected before you leave.
  • Calling a cab or using a ride-sharing service – If you don’t have someone that you can appoint as a designated driver, using private transportation to get home can be just as safe. When calling a cab or using a ride-sharing app, be careful when crossing the street when entering or exiting the vehicle.
  • Wearing your seat belt –Wearing a seat belt is the most important safety-conscious thing you can do when you get behind the wheel or ride in a vehicle as a passenger.
  • Staying where you are if you have no other options – If you’ve consumed alcohol and are over the legal limit but have no options for getting home safely, staying where you are is your best option. Never get behind the wheel while intoxicated regardless of the circumstances.

How Can Attorney Help if You Were Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident?

After an auto accident, one of the most important factors that determines whether victims get paid is proving that the crash was someone else’s fault. At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know how to collect evidence that proves who was at fault, and we’ll build a claim on your behalf that leaves no doubt as to who caused your injuries.

Don’t leave your future up to chance if you were hurt in a crash that was caused by a drunk or impaired driver. We have 30 years of experience assisting victims like you, and we know what it takes to win. Call today to find out how we can help you put the accident behind you for good.