December is “Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month” – What Do You Need to Know?

Whether your college age son was injured when he was a passenger in a car driven by someone who was DUI over Thanksgiving weekend, or a careless trucker T-boned your vehicle at an intersection, you’re worried about auto safety. How can you reduce your odds of getting into another car crash?

First, know your risks.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), December is one of the most dangerous months of the year for DUI and drugged driving accidents. The holiday season sadly inspires many people to “over party” and take unnecessary risks behind the wheel. Here are some shocking statistics about December and DUI driving:

  • According to NHTSA, in 2010, over 10,000 people died due to DUI car accidents. To put that in perspective, that’s more than three times the number of fatalities caused by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A “9/11” occurs every four months due to drunk drivers.
  • Icy roads and bad weather make driving more difficult in December, but every year about 30% of December crash fatalities involve drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher, the legal limit.
  • In 2010, over 1,200 kids (ages 0-14) died due to DUI driving, and police arrested 1.4 million people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are about 314 million people who live in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every 250 Americans was arrested for DUI! 
  • According to authors Jones and Walsh, nearly 20% of all U.S. DUI crashes involve drugs other than alcohol, such as heroin, marijuana, and meth. 
  • The latest statistics available reveal more than 42% of people who die in motorcycle accidents are later found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit.

“Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic,” says National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman. Hersman wants states to lower the legal limit for DUI to .05 grams of alcohol per deciliter. In 1980, the legal limit in most states was double that of today– .15%.

Did Drugs or Alcohol Play a Role in Your Crash?

The healthy body does a pretty effective job of clearing alcohol from the system after several hours. In rare cases, someone’s BAC level may stay elevated for longer, after a night of drinking.

On the other hand, if someone smokes marijuana, that drug can leave traces in the system that can last for up to a month. This lag time makes creating and enforcing drugged driving laws may be tricky. If someone smokes marijuana on the first of the month and then gets into an auto accident on day 27th of that same month, he or she might test positive for marijuana DUI because of the residual chemical signature left by the drug.

What If Someone You Love Got Hurt in a December DUI or Drugged Driving Accident?

Protect yourself by getting effective medical treatment immediately. If you suspect that either drugs or drinking was involved in your accident, do not wait to telephone the police. There is evidence that may be destroyed or lost if they are not called immediately.

Also, as soon as you’re healthy enough, get in touch with an experienced car accident attorney to get insight into your legal options and potential strategies to get compensated.

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