In spite of laws intended to keep Illinois roadways safe, negligent drivers continue to cause fatalities. Getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol is one of the most dangerous driver behaviors, and it leads to fatalities every year. According to the 2015 Illinois DUI Fact Book, which is published by the Secretary of State, 317 people died in 2013 as a result of drunk drivers. Chicago accident lawyers know that these fatalities could have been prevented.
Designated driving programs not as effective
The designated driver program is one way that awareness organizations have attempted to reduce the number of drunk drivers. A group of individuals planning to drink choose one person who abstains from alcohol for the evening and drives everyone home. While this program does appear to reduce the number of alcohol related accidents, a recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs indicates that it is not as effective as it should be.
Researchers from the University of Florida conducted the study by choosing four popular bars. After college sporting events, individuals leaving bars were interviewed. Those claiming to be designated drivers were asked to take breath tests to analyze the amount of alcohol in the blood. Chicago accident lawyers who have read the study understand that nearly half of the 165 participants had drunk some alcohol in the evening, although fewer than one in five had a BAC of .02 percent or less. About the same number of designated drivers had a BAC of .05 percent or more.
Effects of alcohol
If a person has a BAC of .08 percent or higher, they are considered legally drunk in Illinois. On average, this is reached with three drinks for women, or four for men. One standard drink contains .54 ounces, or two tablespoons, of pure alcohol, but the amount in any given drink may differ depending on how it is mixed. The Illinois DUI Fact Book states that even one drink can cause a crash because it slows the brain’s ability to process input while negatively affecting reaction time.
Even though most of the designated drivers in the survey did have less than the legal amount of alcohol in their blood streams, this does not mean they were able to drive safely. The risk of a fatal accident is two times as high for a driver with a BAC of .06 percent, and 11 times higher with a BAC of .08 percent. A person who is demonstrating poor driving ability may be arrested for drunk driving with a BAC as low as .02 percent.
Victims of accidents involving drunk drivers may be able to receive compensation for the physical, emotional and financial damages caused by the collision. Chicago accident lawyers may be able to provide legal advocacy to help hold careless drivers accountable.