Drunk-driving is a major traffic offense in all U.S. states. This is because alcohol impairs a person’s motor skills and mental capacity, and affects his/her coordination, reaction time, judgment, perception, and overall capability to keep his/her focus on the road. Lack or loss of control over any of these skills can easily result in a crash that can injure or kill not only the drunk driver himself/herself, but also his/her passengers, pedestrians and other motorists. It is due to the increased risk of harm that innocent individuals may befall which makes drunk-driving a major traffic violation.
Though the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit for car drivers is 0.08 percent, studies have shown that even at 0.02 percent BAC level, a person’s driving ability and response time can already be affected. The possibility of figuring in a crash increases after 0.05 percent BAC, becoming even higher after 0.08 percent; thus, under all state laws, an individual is considered alcohol-impaired if he or she has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher and, if caught, will be charged with drinking under the influence (DUI) or drinking while intoxicated (DWI). To further reduce the risks brought about by drunk-driving, however, some states authorize traffic enforcers to charge a driver with impaired driving or DUI even if such driver’s blood alcohol concentration level is below 0.08 percent, so long as the arresting officer sees that the driver’s abilities are impaired.
In 2013, there were 1,171,935 DUI arrests in the U.S. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of arrests went as high as 1.4 million. With these staggering figures some traffic authorities are even thankful that the number of fatal accidents (due to alcohol and/or illegal drugs impairment) has not gone beyond 10,500 during the recent years). Well, thanks to stricter laws, the zeal in enforcing these laws, the harsher penalties, and to the efforts of private groups, like the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) which, since 1980, has helped in the passing of new DUI laws, such as the Zero Tolerance law (which prohibits drivers below 21 from having in their blood system any measurable amount of alcohol) and the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law (which authorizes an arresting officer to confiscate the license of drivers who refuse to take or fail a breath test.
Traffic authorities, however, know that despite all the efforts from government and private groups, people will continue to get behind the wheel of their vehicles even if intoxicated. According to Williams Kherkher, “Individuals who drive drunk often convince themselves that they are fully capable of operating a vehicle. In reality, drunk driving can cause individuals to execute a number of extremely dangerous driving behaviors including: speeding, tailgating, running red lights or stop signs, ignoring traffic signals, changing lanes without looking, weaving/swerving between lanes, overly aggressive driving, failure to use headlights or turn signals, and falling asleep behind the wheel. These behaviors, among others, exhibited by drunk drivers can cause catastrophic accidents.
The possible financial burden victims may suffer due to an accident is due to extensive medical bills, lost wages, and painful injuries that can keep them out of work for an indefinite period. Thus, besides possible jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and license suspension, the liable party can also face monetary liabilities or compensation which they will have to pay to their victims.
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