Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle accidents caused 10,497 deaths in 2016.
To be sure, the number of alcohol-related accidents in the US has decreased over time. But the number of annual fatalities suggests that drinking and driving is still a public safety issue in the US.
Part of curtailing driving under the influence lies in education. And understanding the laws around drinking and driving, why drunk driving is dangerous, and how to prevent it are all part of that education.
Keep reading to learn more about driving under the influence and how to protect yourself.
The Legal Definition of Drunk Driving
There are legal limits on how much alcohol you can have in your system while driving. These limits are based on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). BAC is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream.
In general, the more you drink, the higher your BAC. But factors like medications, size, weight, gender, fatigue, and diet can also impact your BAC.
The US has a national standard for the limits on alcohol. Across all states, the legal limit is 0.08% BAC for adults that are of legal drinking age. For anyone under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0%.
How Drinking Impairs Driving
Although the legal limit is set at 0.08%, even lower levels of alcohol can impact your ability to drive. A driver needs to be alert and able to make a quick decision when driving. Any amount of alcohol can reduce that capacity.
For example, with only a 0.02% BAC, your visual functioning and multi-tasking skills decline. A BAC this low can relax you enough that your judgment isn’t at its best.
With a BAC of 0.05%, your brain’s ability to process information slows down. Your eyes can’t move as quickly and your reaction times are greatly reduced.
And with a BAC of 0.08%, both perception and reasoning are significantly impacted. The higher the BAC, the higher the risk of a drunk driving accident.
Drinking and Driving Statistics
Approximately 1/3 of car accidents that involved a death also involved an intoxicated person. In fact, there is one death caused by an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes.
Every year, there are over one million people arrested for drinking and driving. And crashes involving alcohol cost the US more than $44 billion every year.
Preventing Drinking and Driving
Reducing the amount of drinking and driving on US roadways is a matter of prevention. And you can play a big part in preventing drunk driving by designating a sober driver before you go out with a group. Having a designated driver means everybody gets home safely at the end of the night.
Never let your friends get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking. If you have to, take their keys and get a rideshare service or a taxi home. And if you’re hosting a party, be a good host and remind your guests that impaired driving won’t be tolerated.
Were You Involved In a Drunk Driving Incident?
Alcohol impairs your perception, judgment, and ability to safely operate a vehicle. Although the legal limit is 0.08%, drinking and driving is never a good idea. Driving under the influence costs thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year.
So if you’ve been involved in a drunk driving accident, you need the help of a lawyer. Contact us today to get started.