The High Cost of Drunk and Drugged Driving

Super Bowl Sunday is a day synonymous with family friends, food, fun, football and parties.  As football, and Taylor Swift fans, prepare for all the fun, it’s important to consider a sobering reality: the alarming statistics of drunk and drugged driving incidents that cast a shadow over this festive occasion. Finkelstein & Partners emphasizes the importance of responsible choices to ensure the safety of everyone on the road during this popular event.

The Harsh Reality:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration every day in the United States an average of 37 people lose their lives in drunk-driving crashes, equating to one person every 39 minutes. Shockingly, in 2021 alone, 13,384 lives were lost in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths, marking a 14% increase from the previous year. These tragic deaths were entirely preventable.

The Impact of Alcohol and Marijuana on Driving Ability:

Alcohol is a substance that impairs crucial functions of the brain, such as thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination – all essential skills for safe driving. As alcohol levels rise in a person’s system, the negative effects on the central nervous system intensify. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a key measure, and at a BAC of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) of blood, the risk of a crash increases exponentially.

Even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability, leading to 2,266 deaths in 2021 related to crashes where a driver had a BAC of .01 to .07 g/dL. It’s important to note that driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in all 50 states. Even before you feel the first signs of intoxication, alcohol is already affecting your ability to divide attention and control your internal balance mechanism. When you are sober, these two factors help you drive smoothly and safely. Your ability to divide attention normally helps you keep track of other vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic conditions around you. Dampening your natural ability to divide attention impairs your capacity to concentrate on two or more tasks, such as checking the rear view mirror while also steering. One of the most dangerous aspects of alcohol is that the more you consume, the less you are able to determine what effect the alcohol is having on you!

The first thing affected after drinking alcohol is your judgment ─ so you may think you can drive safely when you can’t.

  1. Alcohol also affects your vision and reduces your alertness.
  2. Alcohol affects you differently at different times. If you are upset, overtired, or have an empty stomach, drugs or alcohol will probably have a stronger effect on you.
  3. The amount of alcohol in a 1.5-oz shot of 80 proof liquor, a 5-oz glass of wine and a 12-oz beer is all the same. Beer is the most common drink consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or who are involved in alcohol-related crashes. When you have consumed a specialty drink like a Long Island Ice Tea (which has multiple shots of at least an 80-proof alcoholic beverage), you have just consumed four regular drinks at one time.
  4. Alcohol appears to act as a stimulant and provokes a sensation approaching euphoria, which makes drinkers wrongly assess their capabilities, taking risks they never would have taken when sober. Alcohol also acts like an anesthetic. It suppresses or reduces perception; disrupts the faculties; and, above all, slows down reflexes.
  5. In a review of studies of alcohol-related crashes (including reaction time, tracking ability, concentrated attention ability, divided attention performance, information process capability, visual functions, perceptions, and psychomotor performance), impairment was significant at blood alcohol concentrations of 0.05. The ability to steer a car, maintain the correct lane position without weaving, and make turns properly is impaired even at levels below 0.05.

Smoking or consuming marijuana edibles, now legal in NY, has a similar degrading effect on drivers. To learn more read our blog.

The Legal Consequences:

Driving under the influence is a dangerous crime, and tough enforcement of drunk-driving laws has been crucial in reducing fatalities since the 1980s. Penalties for impaired driving can range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, with consequences including driver’s license revocation, fines, and jail time. A first-time offense can cost a driver upwards of $10,000 in fines and legal fees.

Preventing Drunk Driving:

Being a responsible driver is a simple but powerful commitment. Finkelstein & Partners offers the following tips to ensure a safe Super Bowl Sunday:

  1. Plan your safe ride home before the party begins.
  2. Designate a non-drinking friend as your driver.
  3. If someone you know has been drinking, prevent them from driving by taking their keys and helping them arrange a sober ride home.
  4. If you’ve been drinking, do not drive for any reason – call a taxi, a ride-hailing service, or a sober friend.
  5. If hosting a party with alcohol, ensure guests have a sober driver.
  6. Always wear your seat belt – it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.
  7. If you witness an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement – your actions could save a life.

While Super Bowl Sunday is a time for celebration, it’s crucial to prioritize safety on the roads. Finkelstein & Partners urges everyone to make responsible choices, emphasizing that preventing drunk-driving incidents is within our control. By following these guidelines, we can collectively contribute to safer roads and protect our communities from the devastating consequences of impaired driving.