Everyone knows that
drinking and driving is not only a bad idea, its dangerous. We all know of people who have
been arrested for drunk driving or been involved in an accident with a drunk driver. While
even one person being injured or killed by a drunk driver is too many, I’ve lost count of the
number of victims of drunk driving that we, as a law firm, have represented.
In 2008, (the most recent year
available), Indiana ranked 20th in the nation for alcohol-impaired motor
fatalities. That year saw 814 deaths on Indiana’s
roadways that were caused when a driver had a blood alcohol level or blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more.
According to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, on average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes. In
2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk-driving related crashes—a decline of 9.8
percent from the 13,041 drunk driving related fatalities of 2007. (“Traffic Safety Facts
2007 Data: Alcohol Impaired Driving” DOT 810 985. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, 2008.)
“But I only had a couple of
beers…” or “I’m not that drunk”
Many people mistakenly believe that driving after minimal alcohol consumption is
ok. However, the statistics have long proved this to be an incorrect assumption. This 1996 study by a group affiliated with the
National Institute of Health, and this 1997 study by the Medical
Council on Alcoholism both demonstrate that self-assessment is unreliable at best. According
to this chart, which takes into account
gender and weight, but not some other conditions (i.e., fatigue, medical conditions, medications),
the maximum number of drinks for a 240-pound male to consume before driving impairment is one. 1.
uno. A single 12-ounce beer OR one five-ounce glass of table wine OR one shot of hard
liquor. With the second drink, his BAC rises to .03% and his ability to drive is impacted.
“What can be done to reduce fatalities resulting from alcohol impaired
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CD
C) recommends further lowering the statutory level of intoxication to .05%, in order to prevent
fatalities and injuries resulting from driving while under the influence of alcohol. It also
recommends more stringent enforcement of existing laws, including prompt revocation of licenses for
persons who drive under the influence and requiring substance abuse assessment and treatment for
I understand that many of us
enjoy a glass or two of wine now and again. Just remember that a taxi cab ride home is far,
far less expensive than bonding out of jail for a DUI. Also, consider having a designated driver
when going out and appoint a key master if
you are celebrating at a friend’s home. Using good judgment before drinking prevents bad
judgment while drinking, especially since drinking inhibits sound judgment. And remember, friends don’t let friends drive
drunk isn’t just a catchy slogan, it’s the truth. You’re doing a friend
a favor when you suggest they take a cab or allow you to drive them home. It’s quite
possible your friend doesn’t know they’re slurring their words or being a little too
loud. They really may not know that they’re “that drunk.”
Finally, remember that bad things really do happen. I truly hope
that none of you know the pain that I’ve seen my clients suffer. So, I’m not going
to tell you about the infant girl whose grandfather is raising her because her mother was killed by
an impaired driver (ok, maybe I just did), or any of the many, many sad stories I seen
firsthand. I’m just going to ask everyone to look at the statistics. And please,
don’t become a statistic and don’t make someone else one. Instead, take a
Additional research compiled by Lori M.
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