Among the most startling statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving is that on average, two out of three people will be in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime. MADD also cites information gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which reveals that the average drunk driver has driven while intoxicated over 80 times before being arrested.
Despite all of the well-known statistics, data and warnings, drunk driving is still a problem. Here are a few things to remember as a person who shares the road with drivers who could be impaired.
Alcohol, the breath test and the legal limit
Traffic or criminal laws do not prohibit people from having a drink and driving home. The legal limit is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). If police pull a driver over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer may ask the driver to submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine his or her BAC level.
When the driver blows over the legal limit, it constitutes grounds for arrest.
A driver with a BAC below the legal limit might not violate the law “per se” or automatically, but they can still be dangerous.
Terms of impairment
Alcohol is a depressant, which slows the workings of your central nervous system, including your brain. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is risky because it can impair your vision, give you insufficient reaction times and reduce your concentration.
Having an alcoholic drink or two may cause you to feel overconfident with respect to the ability to drive safely. Alcohol can also relax you, which is not such a good thing when you slip behind the wheel. You may begin to yawn, your attention may wander and you might even fall asleep while driving.
Spotting a drunk driver
You may keep statistics in mind when you go to a weekend party and decide not to drink. On the drive home, however, you may become increasingly concerned about the driver in front of you who cannot seem to stay inside the lane.
In addition to weaving, you might see this motorist make an extraordinarily wide turn, execute stop-and-go driving maneuvers, or cruise right through a stop sign or red light. Someone who is driving erratically is someone to watch, and you should keep your distance.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible. In 2015, 290,000 people were injured as the result of drunk driving accidents. One person died every 51 minutes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.