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The effects of alcohol on a driver

Many New Jersey drivers know that alcohol consumption may be a contributive factor in car crashes. One study by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence describes how drunk driving affects motorists, and it estimates that approximately 32 percent of fatal vehicular accidents involve a drunk driver or pedestrian.

A blood alcohol concentration level of .02 percent may cause altered mood, overt feelings of relaxation, clouded judgment and diminished visual acuity as well as impaired simultaneous task performances. A BAC level of .05 percent significantly limits psychomotor ability, slows visual perception and eye movement as well as diminishes the ability to process information. This results in a reduced capacity to follow moving objects, decreases coordination and lowers the driver's ability to react quickly in an emergency.

An individual with a .08 percent BAC level exhibits poor muscle coordination, including poor speech, balance, hearing, vision and the ability to react quickly. Concentration is reduced as is the ability to process information. Loss of ability to control vehicular speed and loss of short-term memory also occurs.

According to the NCADD, almost 13,000 individuals die yearly in car accidents involving alcohol. Over 1.4 million drunk drivers are arrested yearly, and 780,000 individuals are convicted. Approximately 66 percent of those charged with DWI were sentenced to serve jail time.

When an impaired driver operates a vehicle, he or she may be considered negligent. The family of an individual killed by a negligent driver may face financial difficulties due to end-of life expenses such as funeral and burial costs as well as future contributions to income. An attorney might assist a family by examining witness accounts and police reports to establish negligence. The attorney may file a wrongful death suit on the family's behalf to recover compensatory damages.

Source: NCADD, "Drinking and Driving", October 30, 2014

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