Impaired Driving – Car Accident Attorneys – Personal Injury Lawyers
Impaired driving is a frequent cause of accidents. Despite efforts to curtail the national epidemic of driving while drunk, the annual number of drunk driving accident fatalities remains steady at about 10,000. Drunk driving accounts for about one-third of all traffic accident deaths in the United States.
Impaired Driving Laws
A driver can be convicted of the offense of driving while under the influence of intoxicants, or DUI, if the driver is found behind the wheel while drunk or influenced by a controlled substance.
A DUI conviction can get a driver off the road for a while with a license suspension. The minimum suspension period is 90 days for a first offense. For a second offense, the license is suspended for one year. The loss of driving privileges is in addition to any criminal penalties a court may impose.
A driver who refuses to take a blood or urine test to measure blood alcohol level is presumed to be intoxicated and will receive a one-year license suspension, even for a first offense.
These penalties aim to stop drunk drivers from driving, but they are effective only if the driver obeys the law and refrains from driving with a suspended license.
Ignition Interlock To Prevent A Drunk Driving Accident
Once a driver convicted of DUI has sat out the license suspension period, he or she can start driving again but must use an ignition interlock device for one or two years. An ignition interlock is installed in the DUI offender’s car. It is like a Breathalyzer, which the driver must blow into before trying to start the car. If the device detects alcohol, the car ignition stays locked up and the car will not start.
Unfortunately, DUI offenders may try to get around the ignition interlock by having someone else blow into it, or by using someone else’s car that does not have the device installed.
The Future Of DUI
Since the current standard of .08 blood alcohol content was widely adopted a few decades ago to define drunk driving, the rate of deaths from drunk driving has declined over past years. With the total now at a plateau of about 10,000 a year, safety organizations are looking for ways to reduce that number.
The National Transportation Safety Board has now recommended that states redefine drunk driving by resetting the blood alcohol limit down to .05. At a blood alcohol level of .05, drivers start having perception problems, and the risk of a crash is 39 percent higher than it is for drivers with no alcohol in their systems.
By comparison, with a blood alcohol level around .07, drivers begin to be cognitively impaired. At .08, they are twice as likely to crash a vehicle as drivers who have not been drinking.
Whether laws will change remains to be seen. The DUI problem is not going away soon. If you are among the many that have lost a loved one to a drunk driving accident, or if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, you should know that compensation may be available.