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Driving while impaired

West Virginia motorists who drive while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs can create dangers for those in their own vehicles as well as for others on the roads. Although community education is used to remind drivers of their responsibilities, the nation as a whole loses an average of nearly 30 people per day to alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents. In fact, more than 30 percent of auto fatalities in the U.S. in 2012 involved impaired drivers.

It is estimated that approximately 1 percent of those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are actually taken into custody for the behavior. In 2012, more than half of the children who perished in DUI incidents were passengers in motor vehicles with an impaired driver. Some of the most at-risk drivers for impaired vehicle operation are those who are between the ages of 21 and 24, a group that accounted for nearly one-third of DUI fatalities in 2012. In fact, 83 percent of DUI fatalities during that time involved drivers who were 44 years of age or younger.

Estimates are that those who are involved in impaired driving motor vehicle accidents are several times as likely to have prior convictions for driving while impaired than those who are involved in accidents with no alcohol in their systems. In addition to educational strategies, leaders have explored implementing stricter penalties for those who are caught driving in an impaired condition. Additional areas under consideration include the possibility of reducing the BAC threshold and requiring blood alcohol testing in all injury accidents.

A passenger who is injured because of the impaired driving of the motorist with whom they ride may worry about the implications of filing legal action for any personal injuries suffered. Although insurance may cover some costs, major expenses could exceed those benefits. It may be helpful to discuss such a situation with a lawyer as options are evaluated.

Source: Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, "Impaired Driving: Get the Facts", accessed on Feb. 14, 2015

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