Drunk drivers are a menace on Virginia roads. Not only do they cause more accidents than sober people, but the car crashes caused by drunk drivers are more violent and cause more injuries and fatalities than those caused by sober drivers. This is because, due to the way the brain and your body processes alcohol, the driver’s reflexes are slowed and the impacts of the crash are much larger.
According to the Virginia DMV, drunk drivers account for 7-8% of all auto accidents (down significantly from the 15% or so that they caused twenty-five years ago). But drunk drivers account for 37% of all fatalities caused in auto accidents and about 10% of all injuries. Drunk drivers killed 274 Virginians in 2010.
Just about everyone knows that the legal limit in Virginia is 0.08%. But do you know different alcohol levels affect your body and your brain?
0.02-0.03: At this level you are mildly relaxed and slightly lightheaded. There is no loss of coordination, slight euphoria, and a loss of shyness.
0.04-0.06: You might start feeling more relaxed with lower inhibitions and a feeling of warmth. Most people have minor impairment of reasoning and memory and lowered caution levels. Your emotions are intensified here.
0.07-0.09: At this level thre is a slight impairment of balance, speech, reaction time, vision and hearing. Your judgment and self-control are reduced. Caution, reason and memory are all impaired.
0.10-0.125: Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment sets in. Speech becomes slurred; vision, balance, reaction time and hearing are impaired.
0.13-0.15: Gross impairment of motorfunction. You might start losing physical control of your body. Blurred vision and significant loss of balance. Dysphoria (anxiety and restlessness) are beginning to appear. Judgment and perception are severely impaired.
0.16-0.19: Dysphoria. Nausea may begin. Drinker starts to look like a “sloppy drunk.”
0.20: The drinker begins to feel dazed, confused and otherwise disoriented. He may need help standing or walking. Might not feel pain if injured. Blackouts are likely.
0.25: All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired.
As you can see, beginning at .07, a drinker becomes dangerous to himself and to others on the road. In addition to the criminal repercussions of drunk driving, at 0.15, Virginia allows for someone who is hit by a drunk driver to recover punitive damages. If you or a family member have been hit by a drunk driver, you should contact a Virginia DUI personal injury attorney to investigate the claim and the potential for punitive damages.