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Drinking and driving dangerous even below the legal limit

Most Knoxville residents consider themselves to be safe drivers on the road. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all drivers, however, as individuals continue to make bad decisions such as texting and driving and drunken driving. These decisions can cause serious injury or death to others on the road.

For instance, according to one group, about 32 percent of all fatal car accidents involve an impaired driver. This adds up to about 13,000 deaths each and every year because of a drunk driving accident, with hundreds of thousands of individuals being injured in such accidents.

Despite increased public awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving, these incidents continue to occur with troubling frequency. Part of the trouble may be that individuals do not understand how quickly alcohol may impair their ability to drive properly.

Indeed, while the legal limit is set at .08 in all states, individuals often began experiencing some loss of judgment at levels as low as .02. Once a person hits a level of .05, his or her psychomotor performance is greatly impaired, including slower reaction time and processing ability. At the legal limit of .08, individuals lose even more balance, vision, hearing and reaction time. They also have a harder time detecting danger and exercising their judgment.

Accordingly, while driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is a crime, drivers at lower levels than this can still cause severe injury or death in a drunk driving accident. In these situations, not only can the drunk driver be held liable in the criminal justice system if they satisfy the drunk driving charge, they can also be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit for the injury or death they caused as a result of their actions.

Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, "Drinking and driving," accessed on April 4, 2015

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