National health organizations have been fighting the good fight against drunk driving for decades – through informative campaigns designed to make the public aware of the dangers involved with driving under the influence, as well as stiff criminal penalties intended to dissuade motorists from getting behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks. Despite these organizations' best efforts, drunk driving continues to be a serious problem in the United States, claiming the lives of thousands and costing billions in financial damages each year.
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to fight for compensation for current and future medical bills related to the accident, property damage to your vehicle, lost wages due to an inability to work, and even physical pain and emotional suffering. Understanding your legal options can help you decide if pursuing compensation is right for you and your situation.
What Qualifies as Drunk Driving?
The United States has a standardized definition of drunk driving, so the rules regarding what constitutes driving under the influence are the same no matter where you live. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, drivers who operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater are considered drunk drivers. Drivers under the age of 21, who are prohibited from consuming alcohol in the first place, are considered to be driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. Drivers who choose to drive while intoxicated face stiff criminal penalties for endangering others on the road.
Drunk Driving Statistics
If you're a responsible driver who would never even consider getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, the ever-present nature of anti-drunk driving television, radio, and print advertisements can seem a bit odd. After all, is drunk driving really a large enough problem to warrant that kind of hubbub? Unfortunately, research shows that, when it comes to discouraging drunk driving, the United States still has a long way to go. Consider these worrisome statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Drunk driving kills approximately 30 people every day in the United States.
- Drunk driving-related deaths kill approximately one person every 51 minutes.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol costs approximately $59 billion per year.
- More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2013, making alcohol the primary cause of nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- More than 1,100 children under the age of 14 died in traffic accidents in 2013; of those deaths, roughly 17 percent (or 200 deaths) involved drivers who were intoxicated at the time of the crash.
- More than half of those 200 children who were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2013 were riding in the vehicle with the impaired driver.
- In 2012, more than 1.3 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Are Some Motorists More Prone to Driving Drunk Than Others?
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a BAC that's over the legal limit is a drunk driver, but research shows that motorists in some demographics may be more likely to drive drunk than others. In 2013, drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 accounted for one out of every three motorists involved in alcohol-related crashes with fatalities. Research also suggests that motorcyclists may be more prone to drunk driving; in 2013, 27 percent of motorcyclists killed in alcohol-related crashes had BACs of 0.08 percent or higher.
Motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol also appear more likely to repeat their bad behavior. Drivers involved in fatal crashes who had a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater were six times more likely to have a previous driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction on their record.
Were You Injured in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you have legal options. Don't be left holding the bag for someone else's mistake. Contact the experienced legal team at the Packard Law Firm today for a free case evaluation, and to request a free copy of the book 20 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Car Wreck Case. Our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to help you fight for whatever compensation you may deserve.