Sadly, drunk driving happens at terrifyingly high levels across the United States every year. Over 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence in 2010. However, that number represents just a small portion of drivers who got behind the wheel after having too much to drink. While drunk drivers can come in all shapes and sizes, those most likely to commit this dangerous act are young men between the ages of 26 and 29.
Dangers of Drunk Driving
Driving while under the influence has the potential to impair your ability to operate your vehicle safely on many fronts. Due to these impairments operating a vehicle while intoxicated is one of the most dangerous things you can do while on the road. Every year in the United States, there are roughly 10,000 road deaths involving vehicles operated by intoxicated drivers. That figure accounts for about 30% of all car accident deaths in the country.
Everyone knows that driving under the influence is dangerous, and it is easily observable why by watching intoxicated people outside of a vehicle setting. The same issues you observe in people drinking at a party or a bar exist when those people get behind the wheel, making it is no surprise that this practice can be so deadly. Some of the problems that intoxicated drivers face are:
- Lack of coordination
- Slowed reflexes
- Trouble concentrating
- Impaired vision
- Poor judgment
Lack of Coordination
This issue can present itself in many forms depending on the severity. It can be anywhere from having trouble keeping the car within the lane to slamming the vehicle into a line of parked cars.
Slowed reflexes can increase the odds of an accident in multiple ways. They can result in a driver blowing through a red light and getting into a collision with a vehicle following the rules of the road because the driver took too long to react to the light changing. They can also present a problem when another driver commits an error, and the drunk driver is too slow to drive defensively and prevent a crash.
Distracted driving is already a serious problem on the roadway when a driver is not under the influence. When you add alcohol into the equation, a driver’s attention can be taken away from the road for exceptional periods of time, with their attention often being brought back to what they are doing by the jolt of the vehicle coming to a crashing halt.
Clearly (of not so clearly, if you have had too much to drink) driving with impaired vision is likely to lead to an accident. Drivers who have blurred vision, are seeing double, or are having trouble picking up objects in their peripheral are going to be at a much higher risk for a crash than those whose vision is unimpaired.
Obviously, poor judgment plays a huge role in every instance of drunk driving. Without poor judgment, a driver would never get behind the wheel in the first place. Poor judgment is the top alcohol-related effect that leads to road accidents caused by alcohol consumption.
Heavy Penalties Vs. Low Odds of Arrest
The main reason that drunk driving still occurs at such a horrifically high level in the United States, despite widespread knowledge of the dangers and heavy legal penalties for those convicted, is that so many people get away with it. Many states are cracking down on drunk driving. However, the odds of getting arrested for this offense remain quite low.
Once a driver has first made the decision to drive after having just a little too much to drink, if they get away with it, it becomes easier to make the decision a second time. In addition to being more likely to get behind the wheel with each successful occurrence of driving while intoxicated, they are also more likely to drive while further and further over the limit.
It’s hard to say what law enforcement can do to decrease the chances of drivers getting away with driving under the influence, other than to add more patrols to try to catch more of these drivers. Hopefully, other societal factors can also decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road.
Through a combination of raising awareness of the problem, phone applications that give drinkers more alternatives for a safe trip home, and increased DWI patrols, reducing the number of alcohol-related road deaths is possible. If you are facing a possible conviction for driving while intoxicated, contact a qualified DWI attorney for legal representation against these serious charges.