Drunk driving is responsible for one-third of vehicle accident deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And in Maryland in 2015, there were 6,266 impaired driving accidents that caused 1,920 injuries and 160 deaths, based on the 2017 Maryland Impaired Driving Prevention Program Area Brief.
If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, our skilled auto accident lawyers in Silver Spring are here to assist you. Let us fight to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries and work to hold drunk drivers responsible for the devastation they have caused. Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to learn more.
Drunk Driving Statistics
Drunk driving is not just a problem in Maryland – it is a danger across the country. Each day, approximately 29 individuals lose their lives in alcohol-impaired accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
While drunk driving deaths have declined by one third over the last thirty years, alcohol-impaired accidents still claim the lives of more than 10,000 people each year, causing approximately $44 billion in damages yearly.
How Alcohol Affects Driving Ability
Consuming alcohol affects the brain in many ways, which impact your ability to drive. Alcohol:
- Reduces brain function
- Impairs thinking
- Inhibits reasoning
- Reduces muscle coordination
When alcohol is consumed, it passes from the stomach and small intestine to the bloodstream, where it accumulates until the liver metabolizes it. At different volumes in the blood, referred to as blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, alcohol affects driving abilities in different ways:
- A BAC of 0.02 causes reduced visual function and ability to perform more than one task at a time.
- A BAC of 0.05 causes a decline in coordination and ability to track objects that are moving, reduces response to sudden hazardous driving scenarios, and leads to difficulty steering a vehicle.
- A BAC of 0.08 causes reduced concentration, speed control and information processing, as well as loss of short-term memory.
- A BAC of 0.10 prevents the driver from braking and keeping in the lane properly.
- A BAC of 0.15 causes significant impairment of control over the vehicle, paying attention to driving tasks, and processing auditory and visual driving information.
Maryland Drunk Driving Laws
In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC is above 0.08. In 2015, approximately 1.1 million drivers nationwide were arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol or narcotics, according to the CDC.
If convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) in Maryland, a driver may face criminal penalties, license restrictions and use of an ignition interlock device. Convicted drunk drivers may also be required to go through an alcohol abuse assessment program.
- A first offense carries penalties up to $1,000 in fines, one year in jail, 12 points against your driving record and license revocation for six months.
- A second offense carries penalties up to $2,000 in fines, two years in jail (mandatory sentence of five days), 12 points against your driving record and license revocation for one year.
- Two convictions in a five-year period carries penalties including a mandatory license suspension.
If convicted of Driving while Impaired by Alcohol (DWI), criminal penalties and license restrictions may include:
- A first offense carries penalties of up to $500 in fines, two months in jail, eight points against your driving record and license revocation for six months. Drivers under 21 face a one-year suspension.
- A second offense carries penalties of up to $500 in fines, one year in jail, eight points against your driving record and license revocation for nine to 12 months. Drivers under 21 face a two-year license suspension.
Noah’s Law, which went into effect in 2016, requires those convicted of DUI or DWI to participate in the state Ignition Interlock Program. An ignition interlock device is installed on the offender’s vehicle for a set period of time. This device prevents the vehicle from being operated if alcohol is detected on the individual’s breath.
How Drivers Can Avoid Drunk Driving
Drunk driving should always be avoided. The following alternatives can help keep you and other motorists safe:
- Designate a sober driver prior to drinking.
- Call a taxi or utilize a ride service.
- Give your keys to someone who is sober who will keep them from you if you attempt to drive drunk.
- Practice safe decision-making when consuming alcohol.
- Never let a friend drive after consuming alcohol.
- If hosting a gathering where alcohol is served, take steps to ensure every guest has a sober ride home or accommodations until they sober up.
Contact a Silver Spring Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
The experienced Silver Spring drunk driving accident lawyers of Goldberg Finnegan have helped clients recover the compensation they deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you were injured by a drunk driver, let us work to hold the at-fault party accountable for the damages you have suffered. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to advise you of the legal options available in your situation. If you decide to pursue action with our firm, we do so on a contingency fee basis. You only pay if we help you recover compensation.