Drunk drivers kill more than 10,000 people each year
Drunk driving deaths have fallen by a third in California and around the country during the last 30 years, but accidents caused by intoxicated motorists still claim more than 10,000 lives and cost the economy over $40 billion each year. Drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher are considered too drunk to drive, but judgment, reaction times and coordination may be dangerously impaired at blood alcohol levels well below the legal limit. In 2017, accidents involving drivers with BACs of between .01 and .07 killed 1,837 road users.
Just one alcoholic drink impairs a driver's vision and makes performing more than one task at a time difficult, and having two or three drinks affects coordination and reaction times in an emergency. Individuals with a BAC of .05 tend to be more reckless and find it difficult to track moving objects, which is something that drivers have to do constantly while behind the wheel.
Impairment is especially dangerous when drivers are young and inexperienced. In 2017, more than 4 in 10 of the drivers involved in deadly drunk driving accidents were between the ages of 16 and 24. This is one of the reasons that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Some of the victims of drunk drivers are even younger. About 20% of the children killed each year on the nation's roads die in drunk driving accidents, and they are typically passengers in a vehicle being driven by an intoxicated motorist.
Intoxicated drivers who cause serious accidents are often killed themselves or sent to prison for years or even decades. However, their victims may still be able to pursue civil remedies. In these situations, experienced personal injury attorneys may file car accident lawsuits against a deceased or incarcerated drunk driver's insurance company or estate.