CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH ONE OF OUR DUI ACCIDENT LAWYERS FOR FREE
Driving under the influence is a serious offense and can endanger not only the life of the driver, but of the lives of all others on the road. Even if you think you’re okay to drive, you should never get behind the wheel if you have been drinking or have taken any drugs that impair your ability to drive, even those prescribed by a physician.
Unfortunately, many still choose to drive even if impaired by drugs or alcohol, resulting in dangerous accidents every year. If you have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident involving a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, call our experienced DUI accident attorneys at Zinda Law Group. Call (800) 863-5312 today to schedule your free consultation.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI)
DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” This term refers to someone who is operating a motor vehicle and is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. “Drugs” includes both recreational drugs and those prescribed by a physician. Depending on the state you are in, you may also see the term “DWI.” This term refers to “driving while intoxicated” or, in some cases, “driving while impaired.” The specific definition for DUI or DWI may change state to state, but in all cases, it refers to a driver who was driving while impaired in some way by either drugs or alcohol.
It is extremely dangerous for anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Even if you have only had one drink and you believe you are safe to drive, you still may be experiencing reduced concentration, impaired judgment, or slower response time. This makes driving unsafe, as you may have trouble keeping your hands on the wheel or eyes on the road. Below are examples of typical side-effects you may experience at different BAC levels:
- 0.02%: Some loss of judgment, relaxation, altered mood
- 0.05%: Exaggerated behavior, loss of small-muscle control, impaired judgment, lowered alertness, release of inhibition
- 0.08%: Poor muscle coordination, difficulty in detecting danger, impaired judgment and self-control, reduced reasoning, and diminished memory
- 0.10%: Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, slowed thinking
- 0.15%: Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting, major loss of balance.
If a police officer believes you are impaired, he or she may issue a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test. If you fail either of these, you may be found unfit to drive and charged with a DUI. It is always unsafe to drink and drive. Further, it is important to remember that no substance can sober up a drunk driver. The only thing that can reduce the amount of alcohol in your body is time. If you have been drinking, always take precautions, such as calling for an Uber or other ride-share service to take you to your destination.
HOW OFTEN DO DUI ACCIDENTS OCCUR?
In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Within the same year, alcohol-impaired driving crashes accounted for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 30 people die in drunk-driving crashes every day in the United States. That equates to approximately one person every 50 minutes. In 2018, there were 10,511 deaths from drunk-driving crashes nationwide.
DUI accidents are not limited to car crashes. Drunk drivers are responsible for approximately 15% of the pedestrians killed every year.
With millions of impaired drivers on the road each year, it is not surprising that there are so many car accidents and injuries related to driving while under the influence. For instance, it is reported that one in three people will participate in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Based on these statistics, 9% of car crash victims will develop some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, while 15% will develop a phobia of driving. It is important to always be vigilant while on the road and to never drive if you have been drinking.
If you have been injured in a wreck and the other driver had been drinking or was otherwise under the influence of drugs, you will need a DUI injury accident attorney by your side to fight for your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
IS IT STILL A DUI IF THE DRIVER’S BAC IS BELOW THE LEGAL LIMIT?
It is illegal for someone to drive if their blood alcohol content, or BAC, is above the legal limit. BAC levels are measured by either a breathalyzer (a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath) or by a blood test. All states have formally adopted a 0.08% BAC level as the standard for legal intoxication; however, some states have even stricter standards. For example, most states have zero-tolerance laws regarding any driver under the age of 21. Commercial vehicle drivers are typically held to stricter standards as well, with most states lowering the BAC legal level to 0.04% for all commercial drivers.
In addition to adopting the legal limit of 0.08%, many states also impose harsher penalties on individuals who have BACs that are exceptionally high. Below are some examples of states that have increased penalties associated with high BAC levels, as well as what constitutes high levels in those states:
- Arizona: 0.15%
- Colorado: 0.15%
- New Mexico: 0.16%
- Texas: 0.15%
It is important to know that you may still be charged with a DUI even if your BAC level is below the legal limit. Drivers can be charged with impaired driving if the arresting officer has reason to believe the driver is too impaired to continue to drive. For example, if the arresting officer requires you to take a field sobriety test, and you fail, you may be deemed impaired, even if your BAC is less than 0.08%. In states with zero-tolerance laws for people under 21 years old, any trace of alcohol may result in a DUI.
Also, keep in mind that alcohol can affect each individual person in different ways. Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, it does not mean you aren’t impaired. Your size and weight may determine how your body is affected by alcohol, as well as the amount of food you had eaten that day. If the arresting police officer believes you are impaired, but your breathalyzer shows that you have a legal BAC, the police officer may have you perform a field sobriety test to test your balance and motor functions. If you fail these tests, have slurred speech, or if you smell of alcohol, you may still be charged with a DUI.
Further, drugged driving is also considered impaired driving. If your breathalyzer test shows that you are not under the influence of alcohol, but you still seem to be impaired, the arresting officer may suspect drug use. It is important to know that you can be impaired from both illegal, and legal, drugs. If it is determined that you are under the influence of drugs, you can be charged with a DUI.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,878 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2018 where the drivers had BAC levels below 0.08%. Therefore, it is important to never drink and drive, even if you believe your BAC is within the legal limit.
WHAT IF THE DRIVER HAS A PRESCRIPTION?
You can be charged with a DUI whether the drug you have taken was prescription or not, just as long as it has caused you to become impaired. Further, legal drugs, such as marijuana in some states, can still cause impairment and lead to a DUI.
Many legal and prescription drugs still cause physical side-effects that may impair your ability to get behind the wheel. These common side effects may include:
Be sure to check any prescription medications you have for any possible side effects before driving. If you are unsure of any possible side effects, always err on the side of caution and call a ride-share service or ask a friend to drive you.
GET HELP FROM ONE OF OUR DUI ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED IN A WRECK
Unfortunately, there are many people who still choose to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This decision may sadly result in injury or death to another driver, or pedestrian. If you were the victim of a car accident involving someone who was driving under the influence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or property damage.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.