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Drunk and Impaired Driving Incidences Increase Christmas thru New Year's Day

Wagner Reese

We should all know by now that it doesn’t take a lot to curve driving and decision-making skills once alcohol or drugs have been consumed, yet unfortunately the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” proves to be one of the deadliest for impaired driving fatalities and related serious accident injuries. Over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, drunk drivers play a role in more than 40 percent of traffic deaths. The CDC reports 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day.

It’s not just alcohol that impairs though. In addition, the Governors Highway Safety Association’s Drug-Impaired Driving Report (2017) states more than 400 drugs that the NHTSA tracks were found in positive drug tests reported from drivers involved in collisions or unsafe driving. Nearly half of these drugs were prescriptions-based opioids and amphetamines, while marijuana accounted for roughly 35 percent of positive drug tests reported. The use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol.

Responsible Holiday Drinking Does Not Involve Driving

Simply put, alcohol reduces the function of the brain, impairs thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All of the abilities essential to operating a vehicle safely. A person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood and proves that even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability. In fact, even the standard can of beer you may have at the annual holiday party can influence driving decisions. Generally, these are alcohol amounts found in:

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

BAC level is used to determine if someone is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. With help from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here is a closer look at the effects of mixing alcohol and driving at several different BACs.

  • BAC .02: Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention), some loss of judgment.
  • BAC .08: Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability and reaction time (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception and muscle coordination.
  • BAC .15: Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly, or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balance. Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing.

If you are the designated driver this season it’s important to stay completely sober. If you decide to start drinking, speak up and plan for alternative transportation for your group like a cab or use a ride sharing service at the end of your night instead.

With more drivers on the road and an uptick in drunk driving incidences across the state predicted this time of year, alerting others of the increased risk is one small way we can all continue to make others aware about bad driving choices in hopes of staying accident and injury free. As we all travel to our work and family holiday gatherings, share this “quick read” with the people who will be celebrating the season in your lives.

Hold Holiday Drunk Drivers Accountable for Their Poor Choice

If tragedy strikes and you or someone you love is injured in a holiday related accident or you were involved in a crash with an impaired driver, please call the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation. We put decades of experience to work for you, and we won’t collect any fees unless your case is settled or won.

Connect with us by submitting our online form, and our attorneys will review your information, and respond promptly. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.

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