Drunk Driving and Car Accident Fatalities

It is an alarming statistic the number of automobile accidents that happen yearly in the United State. Approximately six million car accidents occur every year, leaving an estimated 2.3 million people injured with over 30,000 road fatalities. Drunk driving is a huge contributor to these statistics. Over the years there has been major improvement in proactive education and enforcement however, alcohol impairment is still a factor in about one out of three fatal car accidents in just the U.S. alone. It has been suggested* that three in ten U.S. citizens will be involved in an alcohol-related car accident during their lifetime.

Drunk driving is a deep-rooted and persistent road safety issue with millions of people affected by it, and it is foreseen that millions more will be affected. Outside of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, thousands of the people are killed in drunk driving accidents. As of right now all 50 states employ two statutory offenses that relate to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The first statute(s) offense is one that you are probably familiar with:

  • Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated or Impaired (OWI)
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired (DWI)

This offense is usually applied based on law enforcement officer’s observations of an individual’s driving behavior, slurred speech and the failure of sobriety tests.

The second statute is commonly known as the ‘Illegal Per Se’ (which means the act is inherently illegal) statute. This statute is meant to apply to individuals who operate an automobile, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle with their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of 0.008 g/dL. For more than a decade, every state in the U.S. has stipulated that a blood alcohol concentration > 0.08 g/dL represents the legal threshold for alcohol-impairment (however some studies have been able to show that some drivers exhibit cognitive and motor-skill related deficiencies at even lower levels).

Nothing is more frustrating for safety agencies, legislators, and law enforcement officials with the aspects of drunk driving accidents than the fact that they could easily be prevented if people simply made the choice to drink responsibly and plan ahead.

If you grab a few drinks after work with some friends or colleagues, or find yourself invited to a get together where alcohol will be served, talk with members of your group in advance in order to make arrangement for you to get home safely if you plan on “having a few.” If you arrive somewhere alone, and you have drunk too much to drive safely, asking the bartender to call you a cab is always an option, or spend the night at a friend’s house and drive home the following morning. Drunk driving laws and statutes are very clear and there are risks for disregarding them. It is impossible to over-emphasis the importance of doing simple things like thinking ahead to prevent any possibility of drunk driving and it’s potentially disastrous consequences.

Our Syracuse car accident attorneys at McMahon, Kublick, P.C. Law Offices have witnessed first hand how devastating the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking can be. We have watched clients grieve over the loss of loved ones due to the negligence of a drunk driver, while others have suffered injuries that are so severe that they have had their lives irreparably altered. By making the choice not to drink and drive, you are protecting yourself, those you hold most dear, and you are also making a decision that will help keep everyone else on the road safe.

*(Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association; RMIIA)