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Can a driver with a low BAC have liability in a crash?

As discussed last week in this blog, Pennsylvania residents have seen a number of technological advances over the course of the last few decades. New devices have the potential to improve safety, including reducing the number of people who are hit by a drunk driver.

And yet, new technological advances like these devices cannot avoid bad decision-making by a drunk driver. Individuals in these situations often know they are not OK to drive, but they proceed to do it anyway, resulting in an auto accident that injures others.

In other cases, individuals might not realize how much alcohol can affect their driving ability, even if they are far below the level of being considered legally drunk. For example, at just 0.02 percent blood alcohol level, a person experiences some relaxation and loss of judgment, which can result in a decline in visual functions and the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.

At a level of 0.05 percent, a person may have exaggerated behavior, impaired judgment and lowered alertness. These symptoms can be manifested in difficulty steering, a reduced ability to track moving objects and overall reduced coordination.

Finally, at the legal level of intoxication, 0.08 percent, a person may find it harder to detect danger, and he or she may see their judgment, self-control, reasoning, memory and muscle coordination impaired. With these effects, a person may have problems with concentration, speed control, reduced information processing capability and impaired perception. These effects continue to deteriorate the higher a person's blood alcohol concentration.

Ultimately, a person can be held liable for causing a car crash whether they are intoxicated or not. However, the level of intoxication can not only increase the likelihood of a crash, it can play a major part in a personal injury lawsuit where it is shown that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Impaired driving: Get the facts," accessed on Oct. 29, 2016

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