The Dangers of Drinking and Driving

Why Drunk Drivers Cause Car Accidents

Alcohol will affect every person in a different way. The specific affects that a beer, glass of wine or hard liquor will have on a person may also vary from day to day, depending on what that person ate, how much alcohol they consumed and the length of time over which they have been drinking. Though it may have varying affects, one thing remains true: it may significantly impair one's ability to drive safely.

Alcohol is absorbed in the blood stream and may affect various body functions as well as a driver's judgment. Though some believe that coffee or a cold shower will diminish the affects of intoxication, time is the only proven remedy. Below is a list of some of the ways that alcohol may affect one's driving abilities. The extent that one's abilities are impaired will vary depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, body weight, metabolism, diet and a number of other factors.

  • Vision – eye movement, color perception, night vision and depth perception may all be affected.
  • Muscle coordination – eye/hand/foot coordination may be adversely affected.
  • Reaction time – a driver's ability to react quickly to certain situations may be delayed by alcohol use.
  • Tracking – a driver may be less able to properly judge a car's position on the road, distance from the vehicle in front, location of the center line, road signs and more.
  • Decision-making – a driver may be less able to make rational decisions while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Concentration – due to drowsiness or the other affects of alcohol, a drunk driver may find it difficult to concentrate on the road.

Some Sobering Statistics Regarding Drunk Driving

Alcohol-related accidents are estimated to cost approximately 51 billion dollars every year, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The Office for Victims of Crimes also estimates that approximately 30% of Americans will be involved in alcohol-related accidents at some point in their lives. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has presented statistics indicating that approximately one in three fatal auto accidents involve at least one driver who has an unlawful blood alcohol concentration. 10,839 people lost their lives in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2009 alone.

When you look at the many thousands of lives affected by drunk drivers every year, it is easy to see why MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and similar organizations fight so hard to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors nationwide are equally vigilant as they crack down on drunk drivers, making arrests and seeking convictions to hold these people accountable for their conduct.

Victims of drunk driving accidents may also take action in civil court, suing the driver for damages. Your ability to take this course of action will vary depending on the circumstances of your accident and the state where the collision occurred.

To learn more about your rights in the wake of a drunk driving accident, click here to find a local car accident lawyer.