December is known for the major holidays that take place during the month, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Due to the celebratory nature of the holidays, there are a lot of parties throughout the month, ranging from small intimate gatherings to major holiday galas. Whatever the venue, it is likely that alcohol will be served. In addition, it is not uncommon for partygoers to use drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, or prescription opioids.
When the holiday gathering is over, too many people get behind the wheel of their car. This can have devastating consequences if an impaired driver causes a serious car accident. December is also National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, which raises awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.
Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, which continues to the month of December. That is over a month of holiday celebrations that often involve alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription opioids. The number of people who are fatally injured in drunk driving car accidents increases during the month of December. In addition, according to researchers at Columbia University, the number of motorists who were killed while driving under the influence of prescription drugs had increased by seven times between 2017 and 1995.
How Does Alcohol Affect My Ability to Operate a Motor Vehicle?
Alcohol is absorbed through the walls of the stomach and small intestine, where it travels into the bloodstream. The alcohol stays in the blood until it is metabolized by the liver. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause impairments.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level 0.02 percent can cause a loss of judgment, reduced coordination, and a decline in your ability to perform two tasks at the same time. If you have a BAC level of 0.05, you may experience a loss of muscle control, lowered alertness, are less able to track moving objects, and may have difficulty steering. A BAC of 0.10 can cause slurred speech, significant deterioration of reaction times, and a reduced ability to maintain your lane position or brake appropriately.
What Are the Dangers of Drugged Driving?
Different drugs have different effects on a motorist’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. For example, marijuana can cause slower reaction times, impaired judgment of time and distance, and reduced coordination. In addition, studies show that marijuana can cause drivers to weave in and out of lanes.
Certain prescription medications are known to cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired cognitive functioning. Motorists who have taken cocaine or methamphetamines can become aggressive and reckless when they are driving. All of these impairments can increase the risk of a serious car accident.
What Drugs Are Most Commonly Associated With Drugged Driving?
Second only to alcohol, marijuana is the drug most commonly found in drivers who were involved in car accidents. Prescription medications are also common in drugged driving cases. According to the NHTSA, if a motorist has more than one type of drug in their system, including alcohol, it can amplify the effects of each drug.
Even over-the-counter medications have side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness and impaired coordination, which can increase the risk of a car accident.
Who Is More Likely to Be Affected by Drugged Driving?
Teenage drivers are more likely to be affected by drugged driving compared to other drivers. In addition to being less experienced behind the wheel, they are less likely to recognize dangerous situations, or they often do not think that anything bad will happen to them.
Older adults are also at an increased risk for drugged driving for a couple of reasons. First, mental decline is common among older adults. As a result, they may be more likely to take too much or not enough of a prescription medication. Depending on the medication, this can cause extreme drowsiness, coordination issues, and a range of other side effects that can impact the motorists ability to drive safely. In addition, older adults do not always metabolize drugs as quickly as younger people. In some cases, this can result in unintended intoxication, which can be very dangerous if an older driver gets behind the wheel in this condition.
What Are the Penalties of Drunk or Drugged Driving?
Virginia has very strict laws when it comes to drunk and drugged driving. Even first-time offenders lose their driver’s license for a year and must install an ignition interlock device when they are able to resume driving. In addition, first-time offenders face fines of up to $10,000.
Motorists who have a second drunk or drugged driving conviction will lose their driver’s license for three years. If the second offense occurred within five years of the first offense, the driver will be required to spend 20 days in jail.
If a minor is convicted of drunk or drugged driving, the penalties may be somewhat different. For example, minors typically do not face jail time, but the conviction will likely result in fines and license suspensions.
How Can I Observe National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month?
There are a number of ways you can participate in National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and raise awareness. The simplest and most effective way is to avoid drugs or alcohol if you are going to be driving. Challenge yourself to avoid drinking for a specified period of time, whether that is the entire month of December or one or two weeks. By making a commitment to act responsibly and safely, you will be protecting yourself, any passengers that are in the car with you, and other motorists on the road.
If you do plan on attending any holiday parties this year and you know that alcohol will be served, either offer to be the designated driver for the night or make sure that someone else in your group will avoid drinking. If someone in your party appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, take their car keys to prevent them from leaving and getting behind the wheel. Make sure that all guests have a safe ride home, either from a sober friend or a rideshare service.
Also, if you have children, this is a good opportunity to talk to them about the dangers of drunk or drugged driving. You should talk to them about how important it is to avoid getting behind the wheel while impaired. One bad decision can have devastating consequences.
If you do have one too many drinks or you are under the influence of drugs, there is no excuse for getting behind the wheel. If you do not have a designated driver that can give you a ride home, you can always call a cab or a rideshare service. Even if you have to wait for your ride to show up, this is far better than driving home when you are in no condition to operate a motor vehicle.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Clients Injured in Drunk and Drugged Driving Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident involving a motorist who was driving while impaired, do not hesitate to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.