Drunk driving has been a leading contributor to car accidents for decades. But new research suggests nearly 55 percent of deaths in alcohol-related crashes were people other than the driver.  With more than half of fatalities coming at the hands of others, those suffering should seek alcohol addiction treatment California.
In California and across the county, heart-breaking stories of loved ones who lost one of their family members or friends to a drunk driver are all too common. But now, data reveals that even those closest to the driver are at risk of paying for their decision to drive while impaired. With so many lives at risk, a deeper understanding of impaired driving and the life-threatening consequences has never been more important.
What is Impaired Driving?
Impaired driving, or driving while under the influence, is the act of operating a car or other type of vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol. There are legal limits that express what quantity of a substance someone can consume before they are unfit to drive.
In the United States, the presence of alcohol in the blood is the measurement of intoxication. Someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent is the maximum legal limit.  This limit is typically reached after four or five drinks, but the exact amount will depend on the weight and tolerance of the person drinking, as well as the type of alcohol being consumed.
Alcohol is processed through the liver, which can tolerate what the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines as one “standard drink” per hour.  A standard drink is:
- A 12-ounce can of beer.
- A 5-ounce glass of wine.
- An 8- to 9-ounce glass of malt liquor.
- A 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits such as gin, rum, whiskey, or tequila.
California Drunk Driving Statistics
Nationally, car accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States for people under 30. The death rate for people between 21 and 34 per 100,000 is 4.5 percent. In California alone between 2003 and 2012, more than 10,000 people died from a drunk driving accident. 
Although this may be slightly below the national average of 6.7 percent, it is still an extremely high number of young lives cut short by impaired driving. Adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s and above are also killed in drunk driving accidents, usually at the hands of someone else. Each year, thousands of people lose their parents, siblings, children, and loved ones to alcohol-related car accidents.
The CDC reports that people drove while impaired approximately 121 million times in 2012. In 2018, someone was killed in the state of California by an alcohol-related incident every 50 minutes. That same year, there were 10,511 deaths, accounting for 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. 
Drunk driving is typically something we think about occurring only at night. But perhaps surprisingly, the rate of drunk driving at night in California was only 3.4 percent higher than driving during the day. However, those who travel home from work or otherwise drive after dark are at a higher risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident.
While 61 percent of the accident-related deaths in 2018 were alcohol-impaired drivers, 13 percent were passengers, 15 percent were drivers or passengers in other vehicles, and 11 percent were pedestrians. The scope of who can be impacted by drunk driving is substantial.
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The Effects of Drunk Driving
Property damage, medical expenses, and insurance costs are just three of the more practical consequences of drunk driving. For those who survive an accident, there is a gamut of emotions that range from guilt to post-traumatic stress disorder. The pain of causing the death or injury to a friend or family member or taking another person’s life is permanent.
The cost of drunk driving is never worth the risk. It is always a matter of life or death. No amount of rationalization or excuses can change that. To lower the risk, people must take accountability for their own actions and plan ahead.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment California Can Help Reduce Incidents of Drinking and Driving
Aside from drinking responsibility, making alternate transportation arrangements prior to going out can be lifesaving to everyone on the road. Technology has made it easier than ever to hail a ride home through apps like Uber and Lift. AAA even offers a safe driver program, offering to drive members home and tow their vehicle as well.
But is not just those who imbibe who have the power to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road. Servers, restaurant owners, and bars all can cut off one’s consumption before someone becomes intoxicated and offer alternative transportation. Perhaps more powerful are friends and family stepping in before someone gets behind the wheel drunk.
Unfortunately, having one too many drinks is an all too common occurrence for some individuals. Excess drinking by those who suffer from alcohol abuse has been known to hide how impaired they are. This makes it more difficult to prevent the possibility of an accident.
Often the only solution is seeking help from alcohol addiction treatment California. At Ocean Hills Recovery, we offer a unique alcohol treatment program that can help you build a future free of alcohol dependency. Those who suffer from alcohol abuse, or know someone who is, can contact one of our professional counselors today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.