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Almost a third of all fatal accidents involve impaired drivers

Ohio residents may not be overly surprised to learn that alcohol consumption or drug use contributes to almost a third of all traffic fatalities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 10,322 people lost their lives in accidents involving an intoxicated driver in 2012. It is estimated that these accidents cost the economy $59 billion annually.

Parents will, however, likely be alarmed by studies revealing that more than half of the children aged 14 or younger who die in car accidents each year were traveling in a vehicle being operated by an impaired driver. Other studies found that younger drivers and motorcyclists have an increased risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident. While 1.4 million motorists were charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2010, statistics show that repeat drunk drivers remain a persistent threat to all road users.

Suggestions to combat the problem range from higher taxes on alcohol to random toxicology testing for those convicted of driving drunk. However, most experts advocate the strict enforcement of existing drunk driving laws. A more aggressive approach is advocated in both apprehension and sentencing. Sobriety checkpoints and zero tolerance laws for young drivers could lead to more drunk drivers being taken off the road, and mandatory license suspensions and harsher penalties may prevent them from making the same mistake again.

Intoxicated drivers may face civil as well as criminal sanctions. While drunk drivers who cause an accident are often sent to jail, they could also be sued by the individuals who suffer injury, loss or damage as a result of their negligent behavior. A personal injury attorney could file a lawsuit on behalf of accident victims against such an impaired driver.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Impaired Driving: Get the Facts", October 31, 2014

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