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Drunk Drive Statistics: Law Enforcement and Blood Alcohol Concentration

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Drunk Drive Statistics: Law Enforcement and Blood Alcohol Concentration

How many times have you made it home safe while drinking and driving? On average someone dies every 53 minutes from an alcohol related accident (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). Alcohol consumption impairs all of your abilities in many ways when it comes to alertness, judgment, comprehension, quick thinking, and reflexes that are extremely important while a person is driving (Bose). Driving under the influence causes about 1,800 alcohol related accidents each year in the US (Bose). That is why it is illegal to drive under the influence in all of North America and Puerto Rico. A car crash is considered “alcohol-related” if at least one driver or pedestrian involved in the crash has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). My readers will learn about Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), death statistics, laws related to driving under the influence, and how police can know for sure if someone has been drinking.

Law enforcement uses something called Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC to know how much a person has had to drink. Police use a device called a Breathalyzer to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. When you blow into it, it uses your breath to measure the alcohol amount. This method measures the percentage of alcohol, in deciliters, in your blood. In all states in the US and Puerto Rico it is illegal to drive with a BAC higher than 0.08 g/dL (Bose). On a drunk driver with a higher than .08 g/dL BAC is about 325 times more likely, than a sober driver, to be in an accident. There is more than just one factor that takes place when it comes to the amount of alcohol in your blood. After the BAC law was passes, in 2002, all accidents related to alcohol dropped by about 7% (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). According to the National Highway and Traffic Administration (NHTA), three out of 10 Americans have been, or will be, involved in an alcohol related accident some time during their lifetime.

A person’s gender, body weight, drink strength, the size of the drink, the amount of food a person has had to eat, the time a person spends drinking, and their blood volume all play a factor in your BAC. Research states that alcohols effect on women tends to be stronger then on men. Women produce less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the stomach. Next, a person who weighs more can drink more than a smaller person and end up having the same BAC because the bigger person has more fluids in their body for the alcohol to mix with. The strength of a drink can also affect a person’s BAC. If you consume more alcohol, your BAC will be higher. Also, the amount of food you eat will help keep your BAC lower. If a person has food in their stomach, it can help soak up some of the alcohol and they will be less drunk. In addition, the amount of time a person spends drinking can play a role in how high a person’s BAC is. The probability is, if a person drinks for a long time, they will most likely have a higher BAC. The size of the drink is also a factor. If a person drinks a larger drink, they are probably consuming more alcohol. Finally, your blood volume can also affect a person’s BAC. A person with a higher blood volume can drink more and have a lower BAC. If a person has more blood in their body, then there is more blood for the alcohol to mix with (Zador).

Alcohol affects people in many ways. It affects peoples’ judgment, muscle control, sharpness of vision, peripheral vision, color distinction, night vision, distance judgment, and focus. The first part of the body affected when a person is drinking is the brain, specificity the part of the brain that controls thinking, judgment, and decision making. When this happens, people tend to do and say things that they usually would not. The next part of the body that is affected my alcohol is muscle control, specifically your eye muscles. This can be extremely dangerous while driving. First, when sharpness of vision is affected, it can make a person’s vision very blurry, making it hard see the traffic around you. Next, peripheral vision is affected. While sober a person has peripheral vision of about 180 degrees, but while a person’s BAC rises, their peripheral vision decreases. Color distinction is also affected. Color distinction is an important part of driving. If it is affected, a person cannot have a full traffic scope. In addition, night vision is huge think that is decreased. This can be very dangerous because a lot of the time, people drink during the evening and into the night. Alcohol does not allow a person’s eyes accurately adjust to the light. Also, distance judgment is lessened. Determining how far away objects are away from your car is critical while driving. Alcohol makes this very hard to do. Finally, a person’s eye focus is highly declined while drunk. Their eyes don’t focus as fast as they usually would if they were sober. This can be a huge problem.

In 2006, there were about 17,941 alcohol related deaths in America. That is about 41% of total deaths due to motor vehicle crashes all together (Bose). In 2011, a total of 1,140 children from age 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those 1,140 deaths, around 181 happened because of alcohol impaired driving (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). During the week the percentage of alcohol related car crashes is about 15% compared to about 31% on the weekends (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). In 2011, people ages 21-24 years old were more likely to have a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher while driving because in America the legal drinking age is 21 years old. (2011 Drunk Driving Statistics). Male drivers were also more likely to drive drunk with a 24% accident rate compared to females with a 14% accident rate. Males tended to be less responsible than females because females usually mature sooner. In 2011, 29% of alcohol related accidents were motorcycle crashes, 24 percent for car passengers, and 21 percent for light trucks (2011 Drunk Driving statistics). About 11% of these accidents are caused by teen drivers and about 11% are caused by people between the ages of 18 and 20 (Bose).

Driving laws vary from state to state, but they all have around about the same goal, which is to get as many drunk drivers off the streets as possible to make it a safer place for pedestrians and other drivers. In 43 states in America, it is illegal for any person in the car to have an open container of alcohol. The first offense of driving with a BAC of 0.08 g/dL is known as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while

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