Courtesy of iii.org
Alcohol is a major factor in road accidents. Based on data from the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an alcohol-related traffic death occurred every 5 minutes in 2015.
Alcohol-damaged crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, the legal definition of drunk driving. According to NHTSA, 10,265 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2015, an increase of 3.2 percent from 9,943 in 201
The definition of drunk driving had been consistent throughout the United States until March 2017. All states and the District of Columbia defined disability as driving with BAC (blood alcohol concentration) at or above 0.08 percent. In addition, they have all zero tolerance laws that prohibit drivers under the age of 21 from drinking and driving. In general, the BAC limit in these cases is 0.02 percent. In March 2017, the governor of Utah signed a bill, which goes into effect on December 30, 2018, that lowers the limit that defines reduced driving for most drivers to 0.05 percent BAC, the lowest in the country.
Campaigns against alcohol driving are particularly targeted at drivers under the age of 21, repeat offenders and 21 to 34-year-olds, the age group responsible for more alcohol-related fatalities than anyone else. Young drivers are the ones who are least sensitive to arguments against drunk driving, according to NHTSA.
To make sellers and liquor servers more careful about who and how they serve beverages, 42 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws or have cases. Laws that hold commercial liquor servers legally responsible for the injuries, damages and deaths caused by a drunk driver. Thirty states have enacted laws or have jurisprudence that allows social hosts serving liquor to people who are later involved in crashes to be held responsible for injury or death. (See chart below and background.)
- Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that the 10,265 alcohol-related deaths in 2015 accounted for approximately one in three highway deaths (29 percent) ) on American roads. There were 9,943 such deaths in 2014.
- Ignition interlock systems require drivers to blow into a respirator-like device to ensure that the individual is sober before the vehicle starts. According to a report released in January 2017 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, traffic fatalities have decreased by 7 percent in states that allow ignition locks for the first time drunk driving. The researchers studied traffic fatalities for about five years before states began passing interlocutory laws in the late 1980s to 2013, when all states required them under certain circumstances. See background, repeated perpetrators.
- Drunk driving by sex: Latest NHTSA data show that 14 percent of female drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2015 (1761 drivers) were alcoholics, only 1 percentage point lower compared to 2006. In comparison, 21 percent of the male drivers involved in fatal accidents, alcohol impairment in 2015, a decrease from 24 percent in 2006.
- Drunk driving by age: According to data from NHTSA, in 2015 the proportion of drivers in fatal accidents with alcohol injuries was no more than 21 to 24-year-old drivers, 28 percent, followed by 25 to 34-year-old drivers, 27 percent, and 35 to 44-year-old drivers, 23 percent. The proportion of alcohol-injured drivers in fatal accidents was 19 per cent for ages 45 to 54, 16 per cent for ages 16 to 20, 14 for ages 55 to 64, 9 for ages 65 to 74 and 6 per cent for drivers over 74 years.
- Drunk driving by type of vehicle: NHTSA data for 2015 show that 27 percent of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal accidents were alcohol-injured, compared with 21 percent of passenger car drivers and 20 percent of light truck drivers. Only 2 percent of major truck drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2015 were alcohol-injured.
- Social Hosting Responsibility: The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in February 2012 that social hosts could be held liable for foreign harm to people caused by drunkenness only if the host served alcohol or made it available. People who host "bring their own" parties are free from liability, even if the guest is a minor. The court rejected an attempt by the parents of an injured 16-year-old to sue the party's 18-year-old host. The younger person was injured in a crash in a car driven by someone who brought his own alcohol to the party. It was a question of the driver, not the party host, delivering the alcohol. Although the trial claimed that the host would be considered negligent in allowing the driver to drink at home, the court said that previous decisions showed that hosts could not be responsible for their guests' drinks if they did not control the alcohol supply. . Massachusetts law and court cases have held social hosts liable if they supply alcohol (see chart: STATUTES OR COURT CASES HOLDING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE SERVERS RESPONSIBLE).
- Also in February 2012, the Supreme Court of New Mexico stated that sufficient evidence of a driver's intoxication was sufficient to support a jury's finding that the driver was intoxicated, overriding a decision in a 2004 case. Evidence presented in the previous trial showed that a driver who hit and killed a motorcyclist had an alcohol content of 0.09 percent five hours after the crash. The owners of the petrol station where the driver worked and consumed a number of beers bought at the petrol station asked for ignorance of the driver's condition. The court ruled that the blood test results were sufficient to prove that the driver was intoxicated. The decision holds liquor sellers liable for liability where evidence is available under the existing Drama Store Act.