Although the dangers of drinking and driving have been announced to the masses through various campaigns and media ventures, many people continue to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. Those who choose to drink and drive are a hazard to all motorists on the road. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there are more drunk driving fatalities in Texas than in any other state in the nation. The average number of traffic deaths caused by drunk drivers in America is 31 percent, compared to Texas’s 40 percent. MADD is urging state legislators to consider making ignition interlock devices mandatory for all DUI offenders in hopes of deterring people from drinking and driving.
A CLOSER LOOK AT DRUNK DRIVING
In Texas, people driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent or higher are considered intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The National Safety Council reports that drivers who have a BAC level of slightly below the legal limit of intoxication pose a significant risk to other motorists as well.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that a person with a BAC of 0.02 percent may experience a decline in visual functions, loss of judgment and an altered mood state. Those with a BAC of 0.05 percent may have an altered visual perception, delayed reaction time and problems processing information from their environment. A person who is legally intoxicated may experience poor muscle coordination, have trouble concentrating and may suffer from short-term memory loss. All have an increased risk for causing a car accident.
IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES
Ignition interlock devices are wired directly into a vehicle’s ignition system. The driver must blow into a small tube connected to the device, which will then analyze the breath sample for alcohol content. If the BAC level is lower than a preset level, usually 0.02 percent, then the car will start. While the car is in use, the device will ask for subsequent breath samples in order to continue running.
Currently, Texas requires first-time offenders who have a BAC level of 0.15 percent or higher and multiple offenders to have an IID installed in their vehicles, according to the Texas Department of Safety. It is left up to the judge’s discretion to determine whether a first-time offender with a BAC of under 0.15 percent will need an IID installed in their vehicle.
DO IIDS WORK?
Many studies have been conducted to establish whether or not IIDs are successful in preventing drunk driving behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Preventative Services Task Force found that drunk driving recidivism rates decreased by 67 percent in vehicles that had IIDs installed. Once the devices were removed from the vehicles, however, the rates returned to normal.
WHERE TO SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL
People who have been involved in a drunk driving car accident may suffer devastating injuries as a result of the accident. Partnering with an established legal team of knowledgeable lawyers may help increase your chances of receiving compensation for your accident.