The number of drivers on the roadways who are impaired as a result of drinking too much alcohol, has actually declined by almost a third since 2007, however the increase in drugged drivers has ensured other drivers must always be cautious about impaired drivers. Despite the decline in drivers who test positive for alcohol has decreased, there are still plenty of alcohol-impaired drivers on Alabama roads. There were 12,857 people arrested in the state of Alabama in 2007 for drunk driving, and 345 fatal accidents in which at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08 percent or above. In 2014, MADD published the following drunk driving statistics for the state of Alabama:
- There were 2,657 alcohol-related crash injuries in 2014;
- There were 5,398 alcohol-related crashes in 2014;
- There were a total of 14,138 DUI arrests in 2014;
- Of those arrests, there were 9,553 convictions, and
- There were 3,431 DUI refusals in 2014
In 2014, Alabama became the 21st state to pass legislation which expanded the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time convicted drunk drivers with an illegal BAC of .08 or greater.
How Alcohol Consumption Alters a Person’s Mental and Physical Faculties
As if driving were not dangerous enough, in and of itself, when alcohol is consumed, the skills necessary for reacting quickly, making decisions in a changing environment and maintaining alertness are compromised. A driver’s ability to focus on moving objects and process information is significantly reduced as well as his or her ability to judge distance and depth. In fact, alcohol adversely affects muscle coordination, judgment, cognition, vigilance and vision, therefore those who drive under the influence are significantly increasing the risk of being the cause of an accident which results in injury or death.
BAC Limits in the State of Alabama
All the states in the United States consider those with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher to be legally impaired. In the state of Alabama, the following BAC levels are also mandated by statute:
- The legal BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04 percent;
- The legal BAC limit for school bus or day care bus drivers is 0.02 percent, and
- The legal BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 is 0.02 percent.
Alabama’s Implied Consent Laws
Any person who operates a motor vehicle in the state of Alabama is deemed to have consented to chemical testing of breath, blood or urine in order to determine the level of alcohol in their system, therefore it is an offense to refuse to submit to a BAC when requested. Evidence of such a refusal is admissible in an Alabama court of law.
Absorption of Alcohol
Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestines, and since it does not require digestion, it is carried through the blood stream, crossing the blood-brain barrier and causing impairment. Obviously, the greater the levels of alcohol consumed, the greater levels of impairment. While the liver processes alcohol, a threshold amount must exist before that process begins.
That threshold amount is approximately one 12 ounce can of beer, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or one 1 ½ ounce shot of liquor per hour. The threshold can vary, according to the type of alcohol consumed and whether there is food in the stomach, which slows the rate of absorption. Other factors which determine impairment include the size and weight of the person as well as gender, body temperature, age, the presence of certain medications in the body, and even certain spices in food.
When alcohol reaches the bloodstream, some of it is absorbed by body fat and skeletal mass, which is why women can drink the same quantity of alcohol as men, yet have a higher BAC. Men also tend to have a more efficient gastric alcohol metabolism, yet another reason they will typically test at lower BACs after drinking the same amount of alcohol as a woman.
Why are Reflexes Slowed in Impaired Drivers?
Additionally, researchers have found that the brain’s frontal lobes are significantly affected when a person has had a substantial amount of alcohol to drink. The functions of the frontal lobes include the ability to choose between good and bad actions and to recognize the consequences of those actions. Alcohol slows down the regular communication between the neurons which send signals to the body. The ingestion of alcohol also increases GABA activity which alters the amount of time it will take the person to respond to any given situation. In other words, as GABA activity increases, the normal activity of the brain slows down, making it difficult—if not impossible—for the impaired driver to make the kind of quick decision necessary to avoid a car collision.
How Martinson & Beason Can Help Victims of Alabama Drunk Driving Accidents
Victims of drunk-driving Alabama car accidents may be left with life-threatening injuries or could face a future filled with medical expenses, surgical procedures, expenses for rehabilitation therapy, lost wages, damages to their vehicle and the pain and suffering which results from these types of accidents. If you are the victim of an impaired driver, you must take specific steps to protect your future. Many victims of a DUI accident want closure so badly they will accept the minimum settlement from the drunk driver’s insurance company to simply be able to move on with their life. Unfortunately, this may leave those victims without even enough compensation to cover their medical expenses.
The attorneys of Martinson & Beason have many years’ experience helping victims of drunk driving accidents. We understand the importance of gathering evidence quickly following the accident. We will deal with the insurance company and all other legal details, working hard to ensure you receive an equitable settlement for your injuries. Working with our knowledgeable attorneys can allow you to heal from the injuries you received due to an impaired driver, while leaving the legal details to us. You should not end up saddled with enormous medical bills, significant car repair expenses and lost wages due to the negligence of another person. Although the criminal court system may punish a drunk driver who caused a motor vehicle accident, it does nothing to compensate the victims of such accidents. If you’ve been injured by an impaired driver, call Martinson & Beason today for a comprehensive evaluation of your Huntsville drunk driving accident.