The number of accidents caused by drivers who were driving under the influence of alcohol has decreased. This is due by and large to the public awareness of the dangers of driving while being intoxicated. However, despite all the public awareness campaigns, educational programs and other drunk driving warnings, many people are still choosing to get behind the wheel of their vehicle while intoxicated. During weekends and holidays, drunk driving fatalities are on the rise. If you plan to drink, do not drive. Rather assign a designated driver or call a taxi or relative to pick you up. Play it Safe!
Ignoring the Warnings
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death in the United States; an alarming 40 percent or more are due to alcohol related. Law enforcement agencies across the nation are now issuing stiffer penalties to drunk driving violators, in the hope that this will deter people from driving while intoxicated.
How Dangerous is Drinking and Driving
You do not have to be totally drunk for your reflexes to be impaired. A buzz is all it takes to impair your reaction time. So to be safe rather than sorry, it is recommended that you don’t operate a vehicle while your driving is impaired. A driver with the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or greater is more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than a driver who has not consumed any alcohol. The higher the blood alcohol concentration level is, the greater the risk of being in a fatal motor vehicle accident.
A person with a blood alcohol level of .08 is considered to be legally intoxicated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedal cyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dl) or higher.”
All 50 states and Puerto Rico have now implemented the two statutory offenses to driving while under the influence of alcohol. The first offense is driving under the influence (DUI), operating a motor vehicle while impaired or intoxicated (OWI), or driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI). The outcome is determined by a police officer’s observations based on slurred speech, unusual driving behavior or the sobriety test.
The second statutory offense is called “illegal per se”. Illegal per se is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher
A few facts about driving under the influence of alcohol
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports, in 2002 and 2003, 21 percent of persons aged 16 to 20 reported that they had driven in the past year while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
- And in 2003, approximately 4 percent of persons who reported driving under the influence (DUI) in the past year had been arrested and booked for DUI in the past year.
- In 2004 approximately 17,000 people in the United States died of alcohol-related auto accidents.
- In the United States, around 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.