The Dangers of Drunk Driving
In the United States, one person dies every 52 minutes in a drunk driving-related accident. The consequences and effects of drunk driving are completely preventable. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated is something an individual chooses to do, so even one death from this type of accident is one too many.
You don’t have to quit drinking completely, though many benefits come from doing so, you should know the dangers that come with drunk driving and the long-lasting impact it can have. If you, or if someone in your life is a frequent drunk driver, here’s a detailed explanation of what drunk driving is and why it needs to stop.
What Is Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving refers to operating any vehicle while intoxicated. This is not limited to only motor vehicles in the traditional sense of automobiles but also applies to boats, motorcycles, jet skis, and golf carts.
Drunk driving is commonly referred to as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) across the United States. The legal definition of it means that the driver was operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of 0.08%.
This does not mean that drinking up until that level is ok either as mental processing and physical impairment begin to occur after the first sips of alcohol. Having a BAC of 0.02, which usually occurs after one drink, has been proven to:
- Impair judgment
- Increase body temperature
- Increase muscle relaxation
- Decrease visual function and coordination
- Decreases multi-tasking capacity
All of these physiological responses occur after one drink. How terrifying is it then that 37.4% of college-aged individuals believe that they are capable of operating a vehicle after 3-4 drinks?
Who Does It Impact?
Drunk driving first impacts the actual driver of the vehicle. It slows down reaction time because alcohol impairs the brain’s response time. If a car stops short in front of you, or if there is a pedestrian in a dimly lit crosswalk, the driver’s reaction to that will be delayed.
Drunk driving impacts the mental abilities of the driver, but physical abilities are impaired as well. Alcohol impacts hand, eye, and foot coordination. That is why police conduct physical coordination tests on individuals who they suspect are driving drunk.
Drunk driving also impacts innocent people, meaning those who did not set out to drive drunk that day. Innocent people are those that were driving home from work, or walking their dog, and are killed, or paralyzed, by drunk drivers.
This not only impacts innocent people on land but also out on the water. Having full attention and unimpaired cognitive skills out on the water is crucial as there are the added effects of sun and wind exposure, constant swaying, and noise on the driver. Boating under the influence of alcohol has been the leading cause of death and major accidents in waterways.
The families of both the victims and the drunk driver are also impacted. Victims of drunk driving range from children to parents, and grandparents, who leave behind a family abruptly because somebody made a conscious decision to operate a vehicle after drinking.
Another effect of drunk driving is the impact it has on every American taxpayer as well. Of all the drunk driving statistics out there, one of the most shocking ones is that drunk driving accidents cost the United States roughly $132 billion every year. That means that tax dollars are being used every year for these accidents instead of being invested in community growth and development.
Even if you don’t engage in drunk driving, you could be paying for it, so it’s crucial to work hard to prevent it from happening.
What Are The Consequences?
If the physical and mental impact wasn’t bad enough, drunk driving is a dangerous crime. This can bring heavy financial burdens to the driver. If you’re caught drunk driving, the vehicle can be towed and impounded.
Insurance companies also will increase their premiums for drunk drivers. These drivers can expect to see an increase of 80% on average from their insurance companies.
With this comes court-appointed fines and possible license suspensions. A suspended license limits your ability to live a normal life. While it is possible to get permission to drive to and from work, it’s not something that’s guaranteed.
The driver may also have to complete court-ordered rehab to try to prevent this from occurring again. This is a beneficial program that works with offenders to help them with addiction and dependency issues. Though helpful, this still is a time commitment that can take away from work and family commitments.
Despite the time commitment, court-ordered rehab is better than the alternative and sometimes unavoidable consequence of drunk driving, jail time. Since many drunk driving accidents sadly result in death, drunk drivers are convicted and sentenced to jail.
Is it worth potentially spending 30 months in jail for a crime that could have been avoided? This leads to emotional consequences for individuals and families. This burden is also a heavy one knowing that all of this was entirely preventable.
How To Prevent It?
The best way to prevent the dangers of drunk driving is to not drink and operate vehicles. Making sure you have a designated driver when going out is a great way to ensure a sober mind behind the wheel.
If you don’t have a designated driver due to going out alone, or if everybody wants to drink, make sure to utilize any of the various tools available today to get a ride back. Having the number to a local taxi company or using any of the popular rideshare applications directly from your phone are great solutions.
Contact Us today if you need help with drunk driving or need help getting through to someone that engages in drunk driving frequently.
Medically Reviewed: July 8, 2021
Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.