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How does alcohol impact a driver's abilities?

Some things just do not mix together very well, no matter how hard people may try to prove otherwise. One of the best examples of this is drinking and driving, which occurs frequently on area roads, in spite of the clear danger this combination brings to Pennsylvania residents. Indeed, about one-third of all fatal car accidents are caused by a drunk driver.

Part of the problem may be the lack of awareness of how quickly alcohol can affect a motorist's abilities. While driving is so common and ordinary that many may take it for granted, the reality is that driving safely requires a lot of processing and reaction capabilities. These functions are drastically impacted by the consumption of alcohol.

For instance, a person begins to experience a loss of judgment and a sense of relaxation when his or her blood alcohol level reaches 0.02. At a level of 0.05, the person experiences psychomotor performance impairment, including slower reaction time and reduced coordination. Accordingly, even well before a person reaches the legal limit of 0.08, the person's driving capabilities are affected. At the legal limit of 0.08, the person experiences poor muscle coordination, short-term memory loss, difficulty detecting danger and judgment and other issues.

The bottom line is that driving and alcohol do not mix. When an accident is caused by a person drinking and driving, that individual can sometimes be held liable in a negligence lawsuit. Liability will turn on proving the person violated the duty of care he or she was bound to follow on the road, with alcohol contributing greatly to a violation of the duty of care.

Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, "Drinking and driving," accessed on Aug. 15, 2015

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