Information & Resources on Drunk Driving Dangers
Despite our efforts to increase awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence, drunk driving remains a significant problem across the country and in the state of Maryland. As states have gotten more aggressive in combating drunk driving, the legal consequences have become increasingly severe. And those who have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver know all too well how these accidents can lead to severe, life-changing injuries and even death. In addition to these injuries and legal problems, the consequences of driving while impaired also involve depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
Drinking & Driving Dangers
Obviously, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs the driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol affects the driver’s abilities in the following ways:
- Slower reflexes
- Blurred vision
- Poor judgment
- Loss of coordination
The effects of alcohol on a driver’s ability can easily lead to an accident. According to the most recent statistics available from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 167 fatalities in 2019 caused by drunk driving. These fatalities accounted for 32% of all traffic fatalities.
In addition to the risk of an accident, the consequences of a drunk driving charge can have a profound impact on your life. Here are some aspects with regard to the legal implications of driving while intoxicated that you may not be aware of:
- All states consider you to be “de facto” intoxicated if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or above. Depending on your weight and other anatomical factors, you may not even feel intoxicated to be charged with DWI/DUI under the law.
- You will face harsher penalties if you have prior DWI/DUI charges on your record.
- All states have a “zero tolerance” law for drivers under the age of 21, meaning that you can be charged with DWI/DUI with any BAC level (even less than .08).
- All states can suspend your driver’s license once you have been charged with DWI/DUI. If you have prior charges, you may face permanent revocation.
- The costs of a DWI/DUI can be high. You may be required to pay for and install an interlock ignition device. You may have to undergo alcohol counseling, which can be expensive. Finally, you could be facing thousands of dollars in fines and court costs.
Finally, the costs to your mental health can also be significant. For those who drive while intoxicated, your inability to control your drinking may indicate untreated mental health problems. If you cause an accident and injure someone, you will likely suffer profound emotional trauma that can last for months or even years after the accident. For those who are injured or lose a loved one in a drunk driving accident, their lives may never be the same, even after their wounds have healed.
Statistics & Facts About Drunk Driving
Here are some pertinent facts about drunk driving that demonstrate the significance of this problem in our country:
- Drunk drivers kill 29 people in the United States every day – one death every 50 minutes.
- The annual cost of car accidents caused by drunk driving totals more than $44 billion.
- Over 1 million drivers are arrested for DWI/DUI every year.
- Drivers aged 25-34 account for 27% of fatalities in alcohol-related crashes. Drivers 21-24 and 35-44 accounted for the next two largest groups respectively.
- 25% of motorcyclists killed in accidents had BACs over .08% or greater.
- Motorcyclists from ages 35-39 have the highest rate of traffic fatalities when their BAC is .08% or greater.
- Drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher who are involved in fatal car accidents are four and a half times more likely to have prior DWI/DUI convictions than drivers with no alcohol in their system.
These facts and statistics demonstrate the seriousness of driving while intoxicated and explain why states have become increasingly aggressive in prosecuting DWI/DUI cases.
How to Reduce the Risks of Drunk Driving
If you find yourself facing a DWI charge, you should talk to an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible. That said, the best thing you can do is avoid drinking and driving in the first place. Here are some suggestions that can help you avoid drinking and driving:
- Get a designated driver. If you are going out with a group, choose someone who intends to drink very little or not at all who will be responsible for driving you home at the end of the night. This extensive guide will help you choose a designated driver: https://www.alcohol.org/dui/designated-driver/
- Use public transportation, taxi, or rideshare services. This may require some advance planning, and you may not be able to stay out as late as you like, but an Uber or a cab will be much cheaper than a DWI. This article highlights the pros and cons to the various transportation options after a night of drinking.
- Hold yourself and your friends accountable. Stick to the plan – don’t change your mind on being the designated driver or tempt others to shirk their responsibility. Watch out for your friends – help them get a cab or an Uber rather than drive home drunk.
- If you are hosting an event, have non-alcoholic beverages to offer, take steps to ensure that people don’t get “over-served,” and help your guests get home safely.
Because alcohol impairs your judgment, planning ahead can save you a great deal of trouble later on. That said, avoiding alcohol altogether when you will be driving is the best way to avoid a DWI charge.
Resources To Help With Sobriety, Drunk Driving & More
Whether you simply need help with your drinking or have recently been charged with DWI, the following resources may be a starting point to a brighter future:
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Summary of Maryland Laws on Impaired Driving
- Charles County Online Substance Abuse Resources
- Calvert County Certified Treatment Programs
- Self-Test for Potential Alcohol Problems
- Project Chesapeake, offering a wide variety of substance abuse counseling options
- Walden, providing addiction recovery and mental health treatment