Government agencies and anti-drunken driving organizations recognize December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which is timed for the holiday season to call attention to the risks of driving under influence.
The holidays often are a time of increased social drinking. The campaign attempts to raise awareness of the dangers and reduce the prevalence of driving after drinking. Drivers with a .08 blood alcohol concentration are four times more likely to cause a crash than drivers who have not been drinking, according to SafeNY.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,367 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes across the country in 2011. Over one-third of the fatalities were in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. New York had 1,169 fatalities, including 315 deaths – or 27 percent – in crashes involving impaired driving.
New York has strict laws and tough penalties for those who drink and drive. Additionally, anyone who is injured or lost a loved one in a New York accident caused by a drunken driver may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs.
Every two hours, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes, as reported by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The consequences of drinking and driving include arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. Alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion.
However, the organization reports that drunken driving awareness and enforcement efforts such as zero tolerance laws may be working to deter impaired driving. The percentage of traffic fatalities related to alcohol fell from 51 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2009.
All 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit for determining whether drivers are under the influence or intoxicated, up from just two states in 1990.