Drunk driving continues to take innocent lives

Although drunk driving accidents continue to claim lives, Tennessee has hope when it comes to reducing drunk drivers on the road.

When motorists set out to travel along the nation's roadways, they may not think that they will be the next victim of a drunk driving accident. The truth is, however, that there are a number of people who continue to drink and drive despite strict laws against intoxicated driving. Nationwide, drunk drivers took the lives of 9,967 people in 2014 and injured at least 290,000 others, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Tennessee alone lost 277 people in drunk driving accidents, accounting for 27.8 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the state. In addition to killing innocent people, these preventable accidents have the potential to cause serious financial, physical and emotional damage.

A look at the legal limit

Law enforcement officers who wish to find out how much alcohol is in a person's system often calculate his or her blood alcohol content level. This can be done either directly through measuring an actual blood sample, or indirectly using a breath test device. If the reading shows that the driver's BAC level is at or above 0.08 percent, the driver may be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, evidence shows that even lower levels of alcohol can alter a person's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Even a BAC level of 0.02 percent can cause loss of judgement, an altered mood and a general decline in a person's ability to track moving targets. Although it is within the legal limit, a BAC level measuring 0.05 percent can lead to reduced coordination, loss of muscle control and difficulties maintaining control of the vehicle.

Ignition interlock devices

The state passed legislation making it mandatory for all convicted DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. These machines are much like roadside breath test devices, and measure an offender's BAC level before allowing them to drive.

Ignition interlock devices have been found to be extremely effective in reducing the number of repeat drunk drivers on the road. In fact, these monitors have reduced the repeat offender rate by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, IIDs have led to a decrease in the number of drunk driving accidents, injuries and fatalities in states that implement laws requiring their use.

Surviving a drunk driving accident

If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may not know where to turn for help. You may be left suffering with significant medical injuries and unable to return to work because of your trauma. A Tennessee lawyer may be able to help you explore your options and organize a case that may bring you financial compensation.