Even just a trace of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to drive

Drivers who operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level below the legal limit of 0.08 can still endanger the lives of others.

In West Virginia it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level at or above 0.08. However, motor vehicle accidents are still sometimes caused by drivers who have lower levels of alcohol in their system. This is often referred to as "buzzed" driving.

How alcohol impacts drivers

In one study researchers found that drivers with a BAC level of just 0.01 were 46 percent more likely to be blamed for an accident than sober drivers, states Reuters. To come to this conclusion the study's authors analyzed data from over 570,000 collisions that occurred between 1994 and 2011. Researchers concluded that alcohol and driving cannot be combined safely at any level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers with a BAC level as low as 0.02 may experience loss of judgment, visual function and/or multi-tasking.

The effect alcohol has on driving ability becomes even more apparent when a driver reaches a BAC level of 0.05. Drivers who operate a vehicle at this level of impairment may experience reduced coordination and have a difficult time steering the vehicle they are driving. They may also have a hard time tracking moving objects and may be unable to respond appropriately to emergency driving situations.

Many drunk drivers are never arrested

Although drivers can become unsafe when they operate a vehicle with a BAC level below 0.08, many drunk drivers are never arrested for operating a vehicle with a BAC level at or above this legal limit. According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization, every day, people drive drunk approximately 300,000 times. However, less than 4,000 of these drivers are arrested.

Additionally, the penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction often do not deter drivers from getting behind the wheel in an intoxicated state once more. MADD states that approximately one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted for drunk driving have committed this same crime in the past.

Seeking compensation

Those in West Virginia who sustain injuries in a drunk driving-related accident may require extensive rehabilitative and medical care. Drunk driving is estimated to result in a yearly average of 10,000 lives lost and 173,000 injuries costing roughly $130 billion. If you were harmed in a collision caused by a drunk driver, speak with an attorney to determine what compensation may be available to you.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury