Many people get behind the wheel after having some alcoholic drinks or even taking drugs. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs—both illegal street drugs and prescription medication—negatively affect a driver’s ability to drive safely. In fact, both alcohol and drugs are known to impair a driver’s judgment, reactions, vision, speed and overall safety.
Driving Impaired by Alcohol
Although Virginia law states that only those who operate a motor vehicle at or above .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are considered drunk drivers and are breaking the law, any driver who gets behind the wheel of a moving motor vehicle with alcohol in his or her system has a higher chance of crashing and causing innocent people to suffer serious injuries and fatalities.
What Do the Statistics Reveal About Drunk Driving in Virginia?
In 2015 in Virginia, statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) indicate there were:
- 8,047 alcohol-related crashes
- 5,2888 alcohol-related crash injuries
- 214 drunk driving fatalities
- 27,333 DUI convictions
In 2014, the drunk driving numbers in Virginia reveal there were:
- 7,666 alcohol-related crashes
- 5,003 alcohol-related crash injuries
- 251 drunk driving fatalities
- 24,895 DUI convictions
While the number of drunk driving fatalities across our state decreased from 2014 to 2015, the total number of alcohol-related crashes and injuries increased. In fact, even the number of DUI convictions has increased, which could indicate that more people are driving drunk on our roads.
Although Virginia law enforcement conducts sobriety checkpoints and the state has ongoing alcohol awareness programs to help minimize drunk driving accidents and save lives, people continue to get behind the wheel and drive drunk. Unfortunately, drunk driving isn’t the only type of impaired driving on our roads. Many drivers choose to drive after taking drugs—both legal and illegal.
Driving Impaired by Drugs
When drivers are on drugs, they can make critical mistakes that can compromise their lives and the lives of others sharing the road with them. Drugs are known to impair a person’s thoughts, reaction time, coordination, perception, attention, and overall driving skills. Whether drivers are taking prescription medications, marijuana, or other illegal drugs, when they get behind the wheel with any of these drugs in their systems they are driving drugged and impaired.
Unfortunately, our nation is experiencing an epidemic of people abusing marijuana and prescription drugs—creating a safety concern on our highways. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.
Because driving under the influence of illegal drugs and prescription medications is an emerging issue throughout our nation, more studies need to be done to better understand the risk of drugged driving. However, we do know that “marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness,” according to Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development.
Whether people are smoking marijuana for medical purposes or for recreational use, there has been an increase in the number of drivers using marijuana. Additionally, marijuana users have a higher chance of being in a crash. Even though many marijuana users don’t believe it, marijuana can affect a driver’s risk of crashing. Furthermore, even a small amount of any illegal drug can affect a driver’s ability to drive safely.
The Reality of Drugged and Drunk Driving
Sadly, both drugged and drunk driving cost many lives and cause many serious injuries that change people’s lives forever. Not only are the people who suffer injuries impacted, but their families’ lives are also forever changed. Many people who survive drunk and drugged driving accidents deal with catastrophic injuries that may result in brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and many other life-threatening injuries. As a result, they may be unable to drive, work, or even care for themselves.
Hurt By a Drunk Driver? We Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drugged or drunk driver, you need to seek legal counsel to ensure you are getting justice and the best financial recovery possible in your case. Please call us for a free consultation at (703) 591-0067 or fill out our contact form online and we will be in touch with you shortly.