Drunk driving. We all know it’s wrong, but many of us do it anyway. Why?
We always know it’s’ wrong with were sober. But once we’ve “only had a couple,” we tend to get careless or think we’re invincible. That those drunk-driving statistics only apply to all those who “can’t hold their liquor.”
Yeah, the morality and ethics lines blur in our minds when our minds get blurred by alcohol. That’s pretty obvious.
Statistics that Sober
And the data shows that we tend to not be rational or sober when it comes to taking the wheel after having “just a couple.” On average, more than one person per hour is killed in the U.S. by a drunk or otherwise intoxicated driver. The numbers had been dropping until the last couple of years. And the increase in the death rate is the highest in 50 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to 2015 data, more than 1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence. Overall, when asked in a survey, “In the past 30 days, how many times have you driven when you may have had too much to drink,” there were more than 110 million cases of people self-reporting drunk-driving events. That means only about 1 percent of the time a person is arrested. Just think about how much risk that is when 99 percent of the episodes are not caught by public-safety officers.
In fact, an average drunk driver will have driven drunk about 80 times before getting arrested the first time.
And if you think this only applies to those with blood-alcohol concentrations (BACs) at .08 or higher, think again. In 2016, about 20 percent of all alcohol-related car-crash deaths came from drivers who were actually below the legal limit (2,000 people died in crashes with drivers having BACs of .01 to .07).
The cost of drunk-driving crashes, both in terms of damage to vehicles, injuries and fatalities and cost of prison time for offenders, is estimated at about $45 billion per year. About three in 10 of all auto-accident-related deaths can be attributed to a driver being under the influence of alcohol – even minimal influence.
Drunk driving has predominantly referred to alcohol as the influence on risky driving, but the category has expanded in recent years to include marijuana and various prescription and illegal drugs as well. It is important to note that this data has winnowed out the alcohol-related incidents, which suggests that the umbrella “driving under the influence” number is significantly higher, though alcohol is still considered the largest influencer in terms of numbers of incidents across the country.
While most drunk drivers are adults and are able to make their own choices and correlating consequences, there are times where liability may not be left solely at the feet of the drunk driver. This is why a full accident investigation is important. There are scenarios when even if you were the one cited for drunk driving, you may have your liability mitigated.
In most cases, however, the drunk driver will be responsible for any injuries, deaths and vehicle damage when it is confirmed that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Liability may be shared if it is found that both drivers in a car crash were both under some level of impairment, even if one driver was actually under the legal limit.
Court cases over the last few years have found that social party hosts and some alcohol retailers may be held at least partially liable for a car accident that stems from drunk driving. For example, if a party host is serving alcohol, the host can be found legally responsible for guests not driving if they had been drinking. In another case, a driver who worked at a gas station that sold beer (and where the driver drank some beer) killed a motorcyclist, was found to have a BAC above the legal limit a full five hours after the crash. Though the retailer claimed not to know the driver’s condition, a court ruled that the retailer, in that case, may be found at least partially liable because there is a reasonable expectation that the driver was drunk prior to the crash. This is the familiar “ignorance is not a defense” claim.
Know the Law, Know Your Rights
Knowledge is power. And that means having the knowledge about your own ability to drive when you drink (in other words, if you drink, don’t drive), knowledge of your state’s laws regarding driving drunk, and knowledge about your rights and the value of a comprehensive accident investigation. With all that knowledge, plus the guidance and counsel from a quality Memphis personal-injury attorney can give you all the tools you need to protect and defend your rights in a drunk-driving auto accident.