How Common Is A DUI Car Accident?

Published on 03/25/2024 by Monica Burneikis

Not only are car accidents more common when you are driving while under the influence (DUI), but the penalties for causing an accident while under the influence are far more severe.

DUI Car Accident Statistics: Learn The Risks

The internet is full of statistics on how driving under the influence increases the risk of accidents and accident-related fatalities. Here are some of the facts we feel are the most compelling. 

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS):

  • “…alcohol-impaired driving still comprises a large percentage of traffic injuries and fatalities.”
  • …the vast majority, 80.1%, of the primary collision factors for alcohol-involved fatal and severe injury collisions were classified as driving or bicycling under the influence. This was followed by unsafe speed (6.2%) and improper turning (6.2%).
  • Almost half (48.2%) of alcohol-involved fatal and severe injuries occurred between 9 pm and 3 am.
  • Alcohol-involved fatal and severe injuries were the least recorded between 6 am and noon (5.7%).
  • Alcohol-involved fatal and severe injury victims were predominantly young male adults (age 15 to 34) at 39.4% of all victims. 

When you consider that nearly 30% of all traffic fatalities involved a driver with an illegal blood alcohol level, there is no argument that driving under the influence significantly increases your risk of causing an accident.

Alcohol Is Not The Only Cause Of DUIs

While drunk driving is certainly a leading cause of DUI-related accidents, and driving under the influence of illegal drugs is equally as dangerous, it is important to be aware of how even legal substances pose a risk when operating a motor vehicle.

While marijuana is legal, driving while high is both illegal and dangerous

The legalization of marijuana in California increased the rates of drivers who are under its influence. The tricky thing is that marijuana can last in the bloodstream for up to 30 or more days. This has made it challenging for the courts as THC concentrations in the blood do not necessarily prove that a person was under the influence of marijuana at the time of a traffic violation or accident. Nevertheless, advancements in this area are being made every day and it will not be long before tests will be available to conclusively prove that someone is driving while high.

However, analyzing traffic safety data before and after the legalization of marijuana illustrates how THC impairs drivers and may impact traffic accident risk. For example, people who drive immediately after using marijuana may increase their risk of getting into a crash by as much as 25 to 35 percent. These rates further increase if marijuana is ingested in edible form rather than smoked. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (“JSAD”) states that after marijuana was legalized for those 21 years of age and older, there was a “5% increase in injury crash rates following legalization and a 1% increase after retail sales began.”

It is highly recommended that those who use marijuana or CBD in any amount not drive while under the influence. All individuals should avoid getting into a car with a driver who is under the influence of any substance.

Follow restrictions and recommendations for prescription drugs

Many prescription medications have warnings about driving or operating heavy equipment. These warnings should not be ignored. If you are involved in an accident and post-crash testing reveals you were under the influence of legal prescription medication with driving warnings, you may be found partially or completely at fault. A DUI charge is not out of the question if a victim sues you for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.

Over-the-counter medications can also increase your DUI car accident risk

Do not forget that many over-the-counter (OTC) medications also pose a threat to drivers. Some of the most common include cold or allergy medications that cause drowsiness. Sleeping aids may also cause a problem if they linger in your system after you get up in the morning. 

Read all medication labels carefully and adhere to any warnings about side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, fogginess, etc., and adhere to all driving restrictions while taking them.

Talk To Teens & Young Adults About DUI Risk

We also want to highlight a couple of the statistics cited above. The first is that young males between the ages of 15 and 35 are the most likely to be involved in alcohol-related accidents that result in serious injury or fatality. This is worth a conversation with your sons, but also your daughters. 

Peer pressure is a powerful force, and it is not easy to say no to getting into a car with a friend or peer who is clearly under the influence of alcohol or vaping. Create safe ways for your teen and young adult drivers to travel to and from recreational activities so they are not tempted to get themselves into unsafe situations.

It is also worth noting that car accidents while under the influence are the most likely to happen between the hours of 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Be diligent about curfews with your teen and create clear agreements, including natural consequences when they are violated. Your child’s safety is a top concern. 

Seek Legal Counsel ASAP If You Are Involved In A DUI Accident

If you are involved in an accident with someone who you suspect is under the influence:

Tell law enforcement

Make sure to tell reporting officers you suspect a driver is under the influence (smell of alcohol in their car or on their breath, dilated pupils, slurred words, erratic actions/behaviors, etc.) and request that the officers take the other driver in for blood testing. If blood samples are not taken in the first hour or two after an accident, proving that someone is under the influence becomes a challenge.

Seek medical attention immediately

Similarly, accurate documentation becomes critical when pursuing a personal injury case. In addition to recording all of the details to the best of your ability, head to the nearest urgent care or contact your physician to schedule a physical. Seeking prompt medical treatment is essential if you are in a car accident. 

Your physical well-being should always be a top priority. Swift documentation of your injuries provides an essential paper trail, recorded by medical professionals, which will become key evidence during your insurance claims process and related legal action.

Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case

The sooner you have the support of a legal professional, the more you reap the benefits of professional help and counsel as you navigate the post-accident personal injury claim process. Burneikis Law, P.C. will ensure you have all the documentation necessary to support your case (and well-being) in the short- and long-term. Working with an attorney sooner rather than later provides invaluable peace of mind.

Burneikis Law Is Here To Support Victims Of DUI Accidents

Being a victim of a DUI accident is traumatizing. Get the professional support you deserve by scheduling a free, 30-minute consultation at Burneikis Law. We will walk you through some of the things that need to happen now - while getting to know each other better - so you can decide if our firm is the right team to represent you through your case.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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