Driving Under the Influence

image of man trying to walk a straight line and pulled over by the police

Drunk Driving

Alcohol and driving do not mix. Every year, millions of drunk driving incidents are reported in the US. Many times, these incidents end up being fatal. Despite a large public outreach to end drunk driving, unfortunately, it remains a serious issue. Drunk driving is not an accident; it is a serious crime.

Impaired driving starts after only one drink. With each drink, the crucial decision making process involved with driving are severely Impaired. Driving while intoxicated impairs a person’s ability to: brake, steer, change lanes and use judgment to adjust to changing road conditions. At a certain limit, driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to arrest.

In every state in the US, there is a specific limit as to how much alcohol a person can have in their system while driving. This limit is measured through a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) which measures the weight of alcohol in a certain volume of blood. In Pennsylvania, a BAC of 0.08  and over qualifies a driver as driving while intoxicated (DWI). Driving while intoxicated has serious legal consequences in Pennsylvania. For an in depth overview of the penalties of driving while intoxicated in Pennsylvania, visit Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation website.

Drug Induced Impaired Driving

As with driving while intoxicated, drugged driving presents many of the same concerns. Driving under the influence of drugs impairs a person’s motor skills, reaction time and judgment; all essential parts of driving. As with drunk driving, drugged driving is a growing concern of the public due to its dangerous nature. As with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs is a serious crime.

Unlike drunk driving, there is no current technology that can determine drugs levels and therefore determine impairment. Currently, Pennsylvania has passed a law that that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle if there is any detection of a prohibited drug in a driver’s system. In many states, police enforcement are trained through a Drug Evaluation and Classification program to help officers recognize a driver under the influence of drugs. For more information on laws regarding drug driving, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website.

Prevention

Drunk and impaired driving is easily preventable. But how can you protect yourself from other drivers who are intoxicated?

  • Always wear your seatbelt and ensure that any child in a car is placed in a child safety seat. Airbags are only effective if you wear your seatbelt.
  • Never get into a car with someone who is under the influence of alcohol. Call for a ride or ask a friend, who has not been drinking, to drive you home.
  • Report drunk drivers to law enforcement.
  • Keep a distance from anyone who is driving erratically.

Never risk driving while intoxicated, it endangers the lives of anyone on the roads. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver before going out. If you do not have a designated driver, take mass transit or call for a ride in order to get home. If either of these options are unavailable, spend the night where the activity is being held.

References:

1. “.08 DUI Legislation .” Pennsylvania  Department of Transportation. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2013.  <http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/legislation/dui.shtml>.
2. “DrugFacts: Drugged Driving  .” National Institute on Drug Abuse . N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2013.  <http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving>.
3. . “Drunk Driving Prevention  .” MedicineNet.com. Center for Disease Control, n.d. Web. 24 July  2013. <http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=             11915>.