April is Alcohol Awareness Month across the United States and while the statistics indicate that the number of deaths from drinking and driving have gone down slightly, they are still high enough to be a concern.
Drunk driving deaths have declined every year since a high in 2005 of 13,582, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Total traffic deaths also are down during the same period.
Yet, there still is a traffic fatality in the United States every 51 minutes that is caused by alcohol impairment, according to the study by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Traffic fatalities are only one of the ways alcohol-related dangers can be tracked. There were about 1.5 million arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That means about one arrest for every 141 licensed drivers in 2008, which is the most recent year for which data is available.
A new study from the NHTSA found that women are being arrested more often for drinking and driving, and the numbers of women who cause accidents because of alcohol consumption is not decreasing like it is in the general population in many states. The number of women who were arrested for drinking and driving went up about 30 percent from 1998 to 2007, according to the FBI. During that same period, arrests for men went down by about 7.5 percent.
During the first part of this year, new court decisions expanded liability for accidents involving alcohol.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court found that a social host can be held liable if someone served at a party injured someone off-premises while driving drunk. The court also ruled that hosts cannot be held responsible for alcohol related crashes if they did not supply the alcohol at the party. So, if the party was a “bring your own” gathering, then the party host is not held responsible.
Apart from the statistics that show the dangers of drinking while operating a motor vehicle, there are other significant health risks to be aware of during Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is a factor in more than half of the drownings, homicides and fatal burn injuries. Birth defects also are a well-documented result of alcohol use during pregnancy.
Paul Greenberg is a Chicago personal injury lawyer and Chicago personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.