Roughly one third (over 10,000) people die due to drunk driving every year. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013 report, 65 percent of those deaths were those of the drunk drivers, 16 percent were passengers of the drunk driver, 11 percent were occupants of another vehicle, and eight percent were non occupants such as pedestrians and cyclists. Furthermore, drunk drivers injure 290,000 people and cost the U.S. $199 billion each year. Here in South Carolina, drunk driving is an even bigger problem than the national average. 43.7 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers and drunk drivers costs the state $1.6 billion every year. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, contact an experienced South Carolina drunk driving accident attorney at once.
Drunk Drivers Are Repeat Offenders
It is very unlikely that a person will get caught the first time they drink and drive. Drunk drivers do not just make the “mistake” of driving drunk one or two times. In fact, the average drunk driver will drive drunk 80 times before that first arrest, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, 50 to 75 percent of drivers convicted of Driving Under the Influence (a DUI) will continue to illegaly drive on a suspended license.
Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC)
As is the law in every state, it is illegal to operate a vehicle in South Carolina with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. In South Carolina, there are special circumstances for extra punishment for intoxicated drivers with blood alcohol contents of 0.15 or greater thanks to Emma’s Law.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Body
According to Drug Info, alcohol impairs a person’s ability to drive in many ways, including:
- Impairing vision;
- Significantly increasing reaction time;
- Reducing concentration;
- Causing drowsiness or sleep;
- Reduced capacity to understand sensory information;
- Reduced ability to multitask, such as staying in a straight line, paying attention to other vehicles, and noticing traffic lights;
- Inability to obey the rules of the road;
- Becoming overconfident, which can lead to unnecessary and unsafe risk taking.
Alcohol Stays in the System – Consuming Food and Coffee to Sober up is a Myth
A person’s blood alcohol content determines how drunk they are, and there is no way to speed up the sobering processes once the alcohol has entered the bloodstream. The following factors determine how a given amount of alcohol affects an individual:
- Lean body mass (a person’s weight minus fat);
- Metabolic tolerance (how fast they metabolize or process alcohol). Some heavy drinkers can process alcohol at up to twice the rate of a normal person;
- Functional tolerance determines what and to what extent certain effects alcohol (such as slurred speech) have on a person. Heavy drinkers have a higher functional tolerance than normal people, though it has been proven that they are equally impaired when it comes to operating a vehicle;
- Before alcohol is consumed, a person’s hydration level plays a part in how much a drink will affect their BAC;
- Food already in the stomach can slow down the absorption of alcohol; and
- Gender and genetics determine how many alcohol processing enzymes a person has. Women generally have fewer of these enzymes than do men.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, contact one of our experienced drunk driving accident attorneys at The Connell Law Firm, LLC. Call us today; we serve clients in Columbia, South Carolina, and across the state.