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Although we are fighting a war, be responsible: How Drinking Really Affects Your Driving

Resources for Safer Driving and DUI Prevention

Credit: DUI Bail Bonds Las Vegas - Creative Commons Attribution license

Credit: DUI Bail Bonds Las Vegas – Creative Commons Attribution license

Resources for Safer Driving & DUI Prevention

With efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, fatalities involving impairment are decreasing. Between the years of 1991 and 2012, DUI fatalities per 100,000 people have decreased 48 percent in general and 63 percent among people younger than age 21. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related car accidents in 2012, with one person dying as a result of driving under the influence every 51 minutes in the United States.

DUI Facts

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a two-part violation, administrative under the individual state Department of Motor Vehicles and criminal under local law enforcement. Having a driver’s license implies consent and agreement to chemical testing for alcohol or drugs if a police officer suspects impaired driving. Drivers who refuse a chemical test for alcohol or drugs will usually have their driver’s licenses suspended automatically for a period of time. Driving-under-the-influence charges may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on whether injuries or property damage occurred and whether a driver has prior DUI charges on their record.

U.S. Government Interventions

The United States government is actively seeking to educate people of all age groups about the dangers of impaired driving. Law enforcement also uses sobriety checkpoints to randomly check drivers for alcohol or drug impairment. A sobriety checkpoint involves a road block wherein police officers briefly check drivers, smelling for alcohol on the breath and looking for open alcohol containers in vehicles. If police officers detect possible issues, they can conduct chemical tests. Checkpoints typically reduce car accidents due to impaired drivers by 9 percent.

Facts About Teen DUI

Although it’s illegal for teenagers to consume alcohol and use illicit drugs, teen DUI represents about 17 percent of all impaired-driving accidents. Car accidents are the top cause of death among teenagers. Of these accidents, approximately 25 percent involve driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because teenagers tend to engage in binge drinking, their blood alcohol is usually significantly higher than the legal limit for driving. Limited driving experience of teenagers also contributes to traffic fatalities from impaired driving.

Texting and Distracted Driving

About 75 percent of all teenagers own cell phones, and two-thirds of them send and receive text messages. Current statistics indicate that approximately 71 percent of teenage drivers admit to composing and sending text messages while driving and 78 percent of teenage drivers admit to reading text messages while driving. Drivers under age 20 are the most prevalent group engaging in distracted driving practices. Even talking on a cell phone contributes to distraction.

Safe Driving for Newer Drivers

Teenagers may receive comprehensive driver education, both at home and at school, to prepare them for driving. However, driver education alone is not adequate for ensuring that teenagers become safe drivers. Teens usually understand driving laws and guidelines for safe driving. The reasons teenagers are more likely to have car accidents than adults involve basic inexperience behind the wheel and a tendency to take risks. A lack of driving experience makes it more likely that a teenage driver will make mistakes when driving, which could lead to accidents. Teens also tend to speed, drive recklessly, become distracted by passengers or electronics, and skip wearing seat belts. Parents can help keep teen drivers safe by engaging proactively with teens as they become more experienced drivers.

Drunk-Driving Prevention

Preventing impaired driving is paramount for reducing the number of DUI traffic fatalities. Educating teens about the dangers of impaired driving is a primary preventative step. It’s also effective to encourage positive peer pressure among teenagers so they discourage each other from getting behind the wheel when in an impaired state. Parents should supervise teenagers to ensure that they conduct themselves responsibly when social situations and driving mix.

Local Law Resources

Law firms in the Los Angeles area can provide clients with a range of legal services, including litigation, criminal representation, and employment law.