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Drunk driving fatalities continue despite police efforts

Did you know that a person dies in a drunk driving accident approximately every 53 minutes? Each day in the United States, 28 people lose their lives in alcohol-related crashes. Some of those deaths occur right here in California. Sadly, that number might include your loved one. In addition, between the damages and deaths that occur, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes approximately $52 billion a year to these accidents.

Along with these disturbing statistics, NHTSA offers drivers information about drunk driving and the effects of alcohol on the human body.

How does alcohol affect my body?

The more you drink, the more alcohol gets into your blood stream. The liver attempts to metabolize it, but often fails to keep up with the amount you drink, which causes intoxication. You more than likely already know that alcohol affects your muscle coordination, reasoning and thinking. If your blood alcohol concentration reaches .08 percent, your risk of causing an accident increases exponentially. This explains why all states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico consider an individual intoxicated if he or she has a BAC of .08 or higher.

However, even at a lower BAC, crashes still occur. In 2014, 1,764 people died in crashes in which the responsible driver's BAC tested as being less than .08, so you should not get comfortable thinking that as long as you are below the legal limit, driving safely remains possible. For example, your BAC affects you as follows:

1. At .02, you experience:

  • Relaxation
  • Altered mood
  • Slight loss of judgment
  • Feeling of warmth
  • Compromised visual function
  • Compromised ability to multitask

2. At .05, you experience:

  • Release of inhibitions
  • Impaired judgment
  • Exaggerated behavior
  • Reduced coordination
  • Lowered alertness
  • Good feelings
  • Difficulty steering
  • Trouble tracking moving objects
  • Reduction in response time to emergencies

3. At .08, you experience,

  • Loss of judgment and self-control
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor muscle control and coordination
  • Reduced concentration
  • Difficulty detecting danger
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Impaired perception

Any BAC higher than .08 only increases your inability to function and drive. Along with law enforcement officials and advocacy groups, NHTSA focuses on reducing the number of these preventable accidents. The simplest solution remains to skip driving if you drink, but many people fail to take this simple advice.

What legal options do I have after losing a loved one to a drunk driver?

Police and prosecutors handle the criminal side of these tragedies, but that does not preclude you from filing a wrongful death claim against an allegedly drunk driver as well. In fact, any criminal proceedings against the driver could provide invaluable evidence as you try to establish negligence in civil court. An independent investigation, evidence gathered by police and any conviction prosecutors might secure help build a successfully litigated claim.

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