Since the 1930s, there has been a legal limit on the blood alcohol levels of drivers in the United States. What has constituted drunk driving has changed significantly over the years, though. The current laws in Illinois and other states have recently lowered the amount from .08 to .05. This is typically reached after two to four drinks. However, getting behind the wheel after even one drink is not safe.
A study published by the journal Injury Prevention reported that drivers with a blood alcohol content of .01 are nearly 50 percent more likely to be at fault in a car accident than a sober driver. This amount takes only about six ounces of beer to achieve.
Any amount of alcohol affects brain function
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that a standard drink contains 1.2 tablespoons of ethanol alcohol. Even this seemingly insignificant amount of alcohol is capable of affecting many areas of the brain. The chemicals communicating messages from region to region in the brain are blocked after this low dose of alcohol. This affects a person in many different ways, including the following:
- Slower reaction time
- Inability to control impulses
- Impaired decision making
- Balance issues
- Ignoring consequences
Eye functions such as depth perception and focus are also compromised. These inhibited mental and physical faculties result in individuals believing that the alcohol will not change their ability to function satisfactorily on the road, but the effects continue to alter awareness, response time, coordination and other cognitive processes for hours.
Drivers discount the risks of drinking and driving
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, alcohol is a factor in 170,000 injury accidents and nearly 10,000 fatalities in the United States each year. This constitutes approximately 30 percent of automobile related fatalities, and more than 200 victims are children fourteen and younger. No one on the road is immune to the risks posed by a driver who has been drinking alcohol.
In spite of the alarming statistics, many motorists are apparently unconcerned about the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol. About 30 million licensed drivers say they have driven under the influence. Twenty-five percent of teenagers with a license also admit to drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Even though buzzed driving is not against the law, judges may convict drivers who have any amount of alcohol in their systems. A person who has sustained injuries from an alcohol-related accident can benefit from a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable of the Illinois legal system.