Those who drive under the influence (DUI) are at high risk of serious accidents and fatalities. This can lead to a variety of consequences, including jail time, fines, license suspension, and insurance rate increases. Driving under the influence can also lead to injuries to passengers and property damage.
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Approximately 4 percent of all traffic fatalities are attributed to alcohol use. In addition, there are a variety of factors causing many of these crashes, including speeding, weather conditions, and distraction. Taking preventative measures can help to prevent drunk driving accidents. These steps include arranging for a designated driver, avoiding drinking and driving, and making sure that you have enough food and water to last through the night.
Although alcohol is legal in all 50 states, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08% is legally considered impaired. This causes impaired vision, coordination, reaction time, and concentration. Drunk drivers are also at high risk of causing an accident because they are likely to crash into other cars or objects. BACs over 0.15 percent also increase the risk of fatal crashes. Those who drive with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher are more likely to be driving from a restaurant, from their homes, or bars.
The NHTSA estimates that the economic cost of crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers in the United States is $49.8 billion per year. The costs of DUI accidents include medical costs, property damage, insurance, lost productivity, and more.
Those who are convicted of DUI face fines, license suspension, probation, and jail time. In some cases, DUI penalties can be enhanced if DUI is aggravated. For instance, a driver with a BAC of 0.15 percent faces a three-month license suspension, whereas a driver with a BAC of.08% will face a one-year license suspension. Additionally, those convicted of vehicular assault can face two years to a lifetime in prison.
Alcohol-related fatal crashes are also a serious problem for the Hispanic community. Over 12.7 percent of the population of fatally injured drivers were Hispanic, and over 2.4 percent were Native Americans. Other Hispanic populations include Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Central and South Americans.
Other alcohol-related crashes involve other motor vehicles, including bicycles, golf carts, lawnmowers, jet skis, and boats. These types of vehicles are often involved in alcohol-related crashes, as are motorcycles. In some cases, people who are impaired are driving with passengers who are innocent of the act.
In a recent study, Wagenaar and colleagues examined the first 30 states that had enacted “zero tolerance” laws. They found that these laws reduced under-21 drinking drivers by 19 percent. However, the average recidivism rate among those without treatment was 19 percent over two years. Despite the drop in under-21 drinking drivers, hardship licenses still severely restrict driving privileges.
Although the consequences of driving under the influence are severe, it is a crime that everyone can avoid. By designating a designated driver, taking preventative measures, and spreading awareness about drinking and driving, drivers can avoid the risks associated with driving under the influence.
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