Every 30 minutes, a person will die from a DUI related crash in the United States. According to statistics, 40 percent of drivers will be involved in a crash with a drunk or intoxicated driver in their lifetime. DUI accidents are often associated with operating under the influence of alcohol, but a driver can be under the influence of illegal drugs, inhalants, or prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well. The high number of DUI accidents has taken the lives of more Americans than in all of the wars the U.S. has been involved in since the nation was founded.
One of the leading causes of death among teenagers, DUI accidents affects so many lives that state laws have become stricter, especially on repeat offenders by stiffening penalties. Some states have even lowered the permissible blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if involved in a DUI accident as opposed to just being pulled over. Other states have changed DUI accident laws to show up on a criminal record instead of driving records, stressing the seriousness of a DUI offense.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in August 2004 that alcohol-related fatalities had significantly declined in 2003, the first drop in the level since 1999. The DUI accidents, when looking at each state individually, revealed there were reductions in 28 states. NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge attributed the decline in DUI accidents to the tougher impaired driving laws and enforcement by police officers.
DUI accidents are believed to have also declined in part after all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have enacted laws making a BAC of .08 the legal definition of driving impaired. Despite the progress made, in 2003 there were still 17,000 people lost because of DUI accidents. The tolerance for DUI accidents has become much stricter as a result, with efforts to drive down the high number of deaths and injuries even further. Some states have even toughened up the penalties for a first time DUI offenders, as well as taking on a zero-tolerance law for drivers under the influence that are not of legal age to drink in the first place.
If involved in DUI accidents, the damages can be severe. From lost lives, serious injuries, property damage, and legal fees, costs can be extensive. Depending on state-specific DUI laws and the circumstances surrounding DUI accidents, it is strongly advised to contact a DUI attorney immediately to learn the legal rights and options involved. In some states, the efforts to crack down on DUI accidents have caused a much more difficult legal battle. It is important for a reputable and experienced DUI accident attorney to notify you of your rights.