Drivers-Ed Chapter 20

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Impaired driving is an enormous problem in Texas and the rest of the United States.
Around one-third of all traffic fatalities are caused by impaired driving alone, making it roughly tied with speeding as the leading factor involved in traffic fatalities. In Texas in 2013, 43% of all fatally injured drivers measured a 0.08% BAC or higher.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s 2013 data, a person is over ten times more likely to be killed when involved in a DUI-related crash than when involved in a non-DUI-related crash.

In 2013, there were 10,076 fatalities in alcohol-impaired* traffic collisions. These accounted for 31% of all traffic fatalities nationwide. The same year, Texas suffered 1,337 alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities—40% of its total. That’s 470 more fatalities than the next-highest state, California, which has a larger population than Texas. In the ten years from 2004 to 2013, the United States saw over 116,000 people die in alcohol-impaired traffic collisions. * "Alcohol-impaired" means that at least one driver registered a BAC of 0.08% or more.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs is extremely dangerous. Judgment, vision, hearing, attention, and memory are all greatly impaired.
Alcohol and other drugs also damage your physical coordination. You may have trouble standing upright, let alone making fine movements to steer a 3,000-lb vehicle.
Next, we’ll explain in detail the laws governing impaired driving, the consequences of impaired driving collisions, and how to stay safe from impaired drivers on the road.

Drunk driving continues to be a huge problem in the United States and in Texas. State laws exist to punish you for making the mistake of getting behind the wheel while impaired. The first laws against drunk driving were adopted in New York in 1910, but for the next 44 years, police officers had to rely on visual signs to determine intoxication. Only with the invention of the breathalyzer, in 1954, did police officers have a portable and non-invasive way to accurately and numerically measure blood alcohol content (BAC). Since then, chemical tests measuring the percent of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream have been an important aspect of drunk driving law enforcement.

However, even with the advent of the breathalyzer, weak laws and a lack of research led many governmental and regulatory agencies to accept long-standing BAC limits as high as 0.15%.
These limits proved ineffective due to the extent of impairment possible below this level of intoxication. Drunk driving continued to account for the majority of traffic fatalities—in 1982, 60% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related.

By the end of the 1970s, American citizens frustrated with the prevalence of drunk driving began organizing into action groups. The first of these grassroots organizations, formed in New York in 1978, called itself Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID). Their mission was to reduce drunk driving and underage drinking, to advocate for victims of drunk driving, and to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective DWI/DUI laws.

Two years later, in 1980, the nation saw the birth of perhaps the most prolific and well-known grassroots action groups against drunk driving: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
Its first mission statement was "To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving."
Since then, its mission has expanded to include stopping drunk driving altogether, as well as preventing underage drinking

Two years later, another sweeping legislative event took place: with the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, all states were compelled to raise their minimum age for purchase and public possession of alcohol to 21 years. The minimum drinking age of 21 years was in fact recommended less than a year earlier by the 1982 Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving, which was in turn partly influenced by MADD.

Although the federal government did not technically have the authority to force states to adopt a minimum drinking age of 21 years, it was able to compel them by mandating a 10% decrease in annual federal highway funding for states not adopting the standard.
The constitutionality of this legislative maneuver was challenged by the government of South Dakota, but upheld. Within four years, all 50 states had adopted a minimum drinking age of 21 years.

In 2000, Congress passed the Department of Transportation (DOT) Appropriations Act. Far-reaching and impactful in a similar manner to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, this piece of legislation aimed to standardize the maximum legal limit for alcohol intoxication while driving at 0.08% BAC. The DOT Appropriations Act mandated the temporary withholding of a small percentage of federal funding for highway construction for all states that failed to adopt this new standard. Any state not in compliance by October 2007 would have lost these withheld funds permanently. Within five years, all 50 states had adopted a 0.08% BAC as the legal limit for drivers. Since then, the number of drunk driving fatalities has decreased by about 20%, both in Texas and the United States as a whole.

You may be confused by the fact that the criminal offense of drunk driving is referred to both as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Originally, all drunk drivers were charged with the crime of DUI. However, these laws tended to be more difficult to enforce, as they often required officers to prove that the driver had been significantly impaired, allowing some drivers to avoid conviction. Under current DWI laws, a person can be convicted simply by presenting the results of a chemical test showing that the person was driving with an illegal BAC or any positive amount of certain controlled substances.

This important provision, now enacted in some form in all 50 states, establishes a 0.08% BAC as the per se limit for driving. "Per se" is Latin for "by itself." It is used in this case to mean that, regardless of any visible impairment or influence of alcohol and other drugs, a 0.08% BAC is, by itself, enough to constitute the offense of DWI. In fact, the arresting officer does not need to witness any driving at all. As a result of these laws, drunk drivers are significantly more likely to be convicted for their crimes.

According to the Texas Penal Code, a driver is considered legally intoxicated if he or she meets one of the following conditions:

He or she does not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties because of the introduction of a controlled substance, a drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.
He or she has a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
These standards apply both to DWI and public intoxication offenses.

In other words, you can be charged with DWI if you have any drug in your system and are functioning at anything other than normal capacity. In this case, "any drug" includes legal and illegal drugs, prescription and over the counter drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, etc. However, because of the "per se" limit, the results of a chemical test are also sufficient for demonstrating a driver’s intoxication. This limit was determined based on the fact that all drivers are particularly likely to be impaired at this level.

One important consequence of the per se limit is that it allows wider use of sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints are publicized roadblocks dedicated to finding drunk drivers and taking them off the road. Police officers assess the condition of drivers and perform breath tests to determine intoxication.
As long as a law enforcement agency operates a sobriety checkpoint according to certain rules, it has the support of the Supreme Court to randomly check drivers for impairment. These rules include that decisions must generally be made by a supervisor rather than by individual police officers, and that the selection of drivers for testing must be random.

Currently, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, the offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is reserved for impaired drivers under the age of 21. Because it is illegal for minors to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system, the presence of any detectable amount of alcohol in a young driver’s body is enough to prove that he or she was "influenced" by alcohol. An officer’s testimony that he or she could smell alcohol on the driver’s breath is enough to obtain a DUI conviction.

As we discussed in the previous unit, Texas has progressive DUI and DWI laws that impose more significant charges on repeat offenders and on those who show an excessive degree of intoxication.
In Texas, a driver with a BAC of 0.15% or higher can be charged as a high-BAC offender. In more serious cases, a minor can be charged with DWI, which involves more significant penalties.

Remember, additional penalties apply when an intoxicated driver is traveling with a passenger under 15, and when the driver injures or kills a person while driving drunk. The offenses of Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter are serious crimes and involve significant penalties. The different penalties for DUI and DWI offenses in Texas are illustrated on the following slides.

DUI, 1st offense—Drivers under 21: Class C Misdemeanor
Punishable with a fine of up to $500, 20 to 40 hours of community service, a 60-day license suspension, and 30 days of ineligibility for an occupational license
DUI, 2nd offense—Drivers under 21: Class C Misdemeanor
Punishable with a fine of up to $500, 40 to 60 hours of community service, a 120-day license suspension, and 90 days of ineligibility for an occupational license

DUI, 3rd offense—Drivers age 16 and under: Class C Misdemeanor Punishable with a fine of up to $500, 40 to 60 hours of community service, and license suspension of 180 days or more, plus potential referral to Juvenile Court DUI, 3rd offense—Drivers age 17 to 20: Class B Misdemeanor Punishable with a fine of up to $2,000, 40 to 60 hours of community service, a 180-day license suspension, and no eligibility for an occupational license A driver’s fourth and all subsequent DUI offenses will be punished at this level.

DWI, 1st offense: Class B Misdemeanor
Punishable with a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence between 72 hours and 180 days, and a 90- to 365-day license suspension
DWI, 2nd offense: Class A Misdemeanor
Punishable with a fine of up to $4,000, a jail sentence between 30 days and 1 year, and a 180-day to 2-year license suspension
DWI, 3rd offense: 3rd Degree Felony
Punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, a jail sentence between 2 and 10 years, and a 180-day to 2-year license suspension
A driver’s fourth and all subsequent DUI offenses will be punished at this level.

DWI—With child passenger under age 15: State Jail Felony Punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, a jail sentence between 180 days and 2 years, and possible license suspension Intoxication Assault: 3rd Degree Felony Punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, a jail sentence between 2 and 10 years, and a 90-day to one-year license suspension Intoxication Manslaughter: 2nd Degree Felony Punishable with a fine of up to $10,000, a jail sentence between 2 and 20 years, and a 180-day to 2-year license suspension

Keep in mind that special licenses are available to drivers who receive a license suspension for a DWI offense that allows them to continue to drive as long as they install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their car. The IID must remain installed for the entire duration of the suspension period.
An IID will keep the engine from running if it detects that the driver has a BAC over a certain limit.

Public intoxication is also a crime. If a person meets the legal standard of intoxication and is found to be behaving in a way that endangers himself or herself or other people in a public place, he or she may be found guilty of public intoxication and fined up to $500. Minors who are publically intoxicated will be charged as a Minor in Possession (MIP). A minor with prior MIP convictions may be punished with a fine of up to $2,000, up to 40 hours of community service, and/or a jail sentence of up to 6 months.

Years of alcohol-related casualties on the road have led governments to adopt more rigid policies for the safety of their citizens—for example in 1984, when the legal drinking age in the United States was raised to 21.
In 2000, when the federal government began strongly encouraging all states to reduce the per se BAC limit while driving from 0.10% to 0.08%, there were almost 13,500 alcohol-impaired fatalities on the road. In 2013, that number had been reduced to about 10,000.

The drunk driving reforms you’re now familiar with are not just hopeful or theoretical advances. Especially in combination with changing public opinion and awareness of drunk driving, these reforms have had significant, measurable impacts on the prevalence of drunk driving in the United States and Texas. In the United States in 1982, the year the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving was established, 21,113 Americans died in alcohol-impaired traffic collisions. By 2013, alcohol-related traffic fatalities had decreased by 52%.

Despite a growing population and growing numbers of licensed drivers, the number of people who died in alcohol-impaired traffic collisions in 2013 was 11,037 fewer than died in 1982.
These 10,076 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2013 accounted for 31% of all traffic fatalities, which shows that drunk driving remains a huge public health problem. However, this still represents a severe reduction in the prevalence of drunk driving: in 1982, alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities represented almost 50% of all people killed in collisions—a rate that is more than 50% higher than the current numbers.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that sobriety checkpoints in particular are an effective way to reduce the impact and prevalence of drunk driving. On average, areas in which sobriety checkpoints are implemented see about 9% fewer alcohol-related traffic collisions. The CDC also found that the results were similar for both short-term and long-term roadblock campaigns. This suggests that the effectiveness of roadblocks does not diminish over time.

Overall, the 0.08% BAC limit, the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years, and numerous other important drunk driving reforms have made our roads much safer.
However, even a single alcohol-related traffic fatality is too many. Research and policy continue to develop in response to an increasingly deeper understanding of the problem of drunk driving. Please help your community and your nation by understanding both the human risks and the legal consequences of impaired driving.

The NHTSA estimates that drivers with a BAC of 0.05% are about five times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than drivers with no alcohol in their bloodstream. Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% are estimated to be about nine times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision, and for drivers with a BAC of 0.15%, the estimate is 20 times the risk of sober drivers. In 2013, excluding the perpetrators themselves, drunk drivers killed 3,561 people. This includes: 1,567 of their own passengers 1,157 occupants of other vehicles 837 pedestrians, bicyclists, and others not occupying a motor vehicle

Driving while intoxicated is a national problem, but its impact is felt with extra strength in Texas.
According to the NHTSA, in 2013, more people died in collisions involving a driver with a BAC of 0.01% or higher in Texas than in any other state.
In Texas, 1,550 people were killed in a collision involving a driver with some degree of intoxication. In comparison, in California, the state with the next highest number of fatalities, only 1,025 people were killed. This means that over 50% more people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Texas than were in California, despite the fact that the state has only 2/3 the population that California does.

Of the 1,550 people killed in a drunk driving collision in Texas in 2013, 970 (63%) were the impaired drivers themselves. This means that in Texas, almost 600 other people (e.g. passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, etc.) were killed by drunk drivers in 2013. All of these deaths were preventable. In every case, if the drunk driver had simply chosen not to get into the driver’s seat, there would have been no collision and no deaths. And deaths aren’t the only serious result of drunk driving collisions: the NHTSA estimates that over 250,000 people are injured in alcohol-related traffic collisions each year.

While drug tests are performed on less than half of all drivers involved in fatal crashes, these tests indicate the presence of drugs in about a third of those tested—around 6,000 people—every year. The true figure, however, is probably significantly higher. Consider the following:

Only a blood sample will show the presence of many drugs.
Although the per se limit for certain controlled substances, such as marijuana, is a minimum positive amount, there is no per se limit for some impairing substances, such as caffeine or nicotine.
Testing for every possible impairing substance is impossible, given the vast number of such drugs.
According to the NHTSA, about two-thirds of drug-impaired-crash fatalities are the impaired drivers themselves. The drivers who died were three times as likely to test positive for drugs as the drivers who survived.

Soon we will discuss in more detail the victims and other tolls of drunk driving, but for now, consider this: the NHTSA estimates that two out of every three people will be involved in an alcohol-related traffic collision in their lifetimes. Given these tolls, it should be no surprise that traffic collisions cost Texas almost $5 billion a year (in terms of medical costs and lost productivity)—over $300 per licensed driver.

In 2013, impaired drivers killed 2,724 people either in the impaired driver’s car or in another vehicle. Think about what this means:

1,567—the number of people who got into a car thinking the driver was not too impaired to drive, and who then died in a crash
1,157—the number of people who were in their own vehicle and were struck and killed by an impaired driver
121—the number of children age 14 and younger who were killed when the vehicle they were in was involved in a collision caused by an impaired driver

Today, every car is manufactured with safety systems including seat belts, crumple zones, and air bags. But none of these can change the fact that 3,000 lbs of metal and plastic moving at 60 mph is an extremely dangerous thing. Impaired driving puts everyone on the road in danger.

Impaired drivers also put pedestrians and bicyclists at greater risk of death or serious injury.

In 2013, there were 4,735 total pedestrian fatalities.
Of these fatalities, 701 (15%) were caused by drivers with a 0.08% BAC or higher.
Children under the age of 14 represented 29 of these pedestrian victims of fatal impaired driving collisions.
If you’re driving impaired and you strike and kill a pedestrian, there’s a 1-in-24 chance that you will be killing a child.

In 2013, there were 743 total bicyclist fatalities. 252 (34%) of these bicyclists were killed in collisions in which either the bicyclist, the driver, or both were under the influence of alcohol. 213 (29%) of these bicyclists were killed in collisions in which either the bicyclist, the driver, or both had a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

Police officers, construction workers, and others who must sometimes work near traffic are at a special risk from drunk drivers.
Alcohol impairment makes each of the following cases more likely and more fatal:

Police offers often have to pull over another vehicle for possible traffic offenses. While walking between vehicles on the side of the road, officers are unprotected and are often struck by other drivers

Construction workers often must spend several hours a day working on the side of the road. Warning signs are intended to prevent injuries to construction workers, but these warnings are not always seen or heeded. Crossing guards, on-street traffic police, and paramedics also spend time on the roadway as a part of their job. All such workers are at a greater risk of being struck by a vehicle.

Of the 10,076 alcohol-impaired crash fatalities in 2013, a total of 665 victims were age 65 or older. That’s about 1 out of 15 people who were killed in a drunk driving crash that year.
The death of an elderly person is not less tragic because of his or her age. People over 65 often have large extended families including grandchildren. Many of their friendships and other relationships have lasted for several decades.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children age 4, and the second leading cause of death for all other ages between 3 and 14, in 2013. Children age 14 and younger suffered 1,149 traffic fatalities nationwide in 2013, and 200 (17%) of these children were killed by drunk drivers. That’s the equivalent of one child dying every 44 hours. Among all drunk driving fatalities, there was a 1-in-50 chance that the victim was under 14 years old. What’s worse, 121 children were killed in crashes in which the driver responsible for them was the impaired one.

Are you 16 to 20 years old? If so, then you are in one of the most vulnerable age groups. In 2013, 837 people age 16 to 20 were killed in drunk driving crashes—that’s about 1 in 12 people killed by drunk drivers that year.
Importantly, ages 16 to 20 includes all people eligible for restricted and full privilege licenses in Texas, but under the legal drinking age.

Most young adults are looking forward to finishing high school and beginning college or a working life. It is a time when knowledge, responsibility, individuality, and freedom are rapidly expanding. Please, don’t make a name for yourself as the person in your neighborhood who died in a drunk driving collision. Reducing yourself to a statistic is just about the least unique and interesting thing you can do with your life.

Although drivers of all ages are involved in alcohol-impaired crashes, young drivers are involved at disproportionately high rates.
According to the NHTSA, drivers under age 21 accounted for 6% of the population of licensed drivers in 2013. These drivers were highly overrepresented among drivers with a 0.08% BAC or higher at the time of a fatal collision: drivers under age 21 accounted for 17% of all alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal collisions. This is almost three times their presence among the overall driving population.
In addition, the Texas Department of Transportation reports that in 2011, drivers under age 21 accounted for almost 9% of all alcohol-related crashes and over 8% of all such crashes that resulted in a fatality.

Despite the fact that drivers age 15 to 20 aren’t legally permitted to consume alcohol, they’re more likely than any other age group to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of a fatal collision. In addition, traffic collisions are already the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 20 in the U.S., a fact reported by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Clearly, both traffic collisions in general, and alcohol-impaired driving in particular, present an immense threat to the health of young people in the United States.

But why is drinking such a problem among teens in the United States?
Some teens drink because they want to seem "cool". Some drink because they want to forget about their problems. Others drink to avoid social pressures against nondrinkers.
Teens drink for many reasons, but they are often misguided or pressured into drinking. Before you put any alcohol in your body, understand that you always have a choice. Nobody can force you to drink—you’re the only one in control of that.

Many people drink for the wrong reasons, or drink based on a misunderstanding of the drug. Alcohol will not solve your problems. It will only make matters worse. Alcohol will not make you seem "cool" to anyone. It will cause slurred speech, an inability to form sentences, stumbling, vomiting, and unconsciousness. Alcohol may make people laugh at you, pity you, or be disgusted by you—but it will certainly not make them think you’re cool.

Alcohol doesn’t make you forget your problems, either. You’re more likely to dwell on sad thoughts when drinking, and you’ll have more difficulty than normal thinking of ways to actually solve your problems.
The depressing effects of alcohol persist even when you’re done drinking, and can contribute to major depressive disorder. Eventually, there may seem to be no way out at all. Don’t doom yourself by making this mistake—don’t think for a second that drinking will make you forget your problems.

Finally, drinking alcohol to escape social pressures against nondrinkers is also a harmful mistake. Some people will always pressure you if you’re around them—pressure you to drink, to smoke, to drive too fast, or to do any number of other dangerous things. Giving in to one type of pressure will not help you escape these people. Instead, it will make them pressure you more. Once you show that you are impressionable, people will know that they can influence you. People engaging in dangerous or illegal activity want company, so that their life choices appear more "normal". Don’t give in to peer pressure—you’ll only expose yourself to increasingly forceful and dangerous influences.

When it comes to road safety, drivers age 15 to 20 are already at a disadvantage for a number of reasons. When alcohol or other drugs are brought into the picture, you can see that young drivers are more in a particularly dangerous position.
A few statistics from the United States in 2013 will help illustrate the involvement of young drivers in fatal collisions.

A total of 863 drivers age 15 to 20 were involved in a fatal collision while they had an illegal BAC of 0.01% or higher. Of these drivers, 492 (57%) were killed. This means that if you kill anyone because you got behind the wheel after drinking, the person you’re most likely to kill is yourself.

Among young drivers with a BAC of 0.01% or higher who were involved in fatal crashes, about half were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. Nevertheless, unrestrained drivers represented about two-thirds of these impaired young drivers who died in the crashes they caused. Moreover, while 22% of all young drivers involved in fatal collisions had a BAC of 0.01% or higher, these drivers were far more likely to be male. 24% of young male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes had been drinking prior to the crash, while only 16% of young female drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

But what are the factors that put young drivers at a particular disadvantage? To begin with, many young drivers lack driving experience. As a result, they encounter more situations in which they’re unsure what the best course of action is. Making the right decision takes longer, and fine control of the vehicle comes less easily.
To help overcome any lack of experience you may have, you must first recognize that you have a deficit. Take your training seriously, and treat every driving experience as a lesson to be learned.

Some young drivers have a greater interest in taking risks. This behavior causes drivers to make more mistakes, needlessly increasing their already serious risk of causing a fatal collision. To help yourself avoid this deadly behavior, remember that you bet your life on the risks you take behind the wheel.

Most young drivers also lack experience in the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. This can make them worse both at predicting future impairment and assessing current impairment. Any amount of impairment makes you unequipped to safely drive a motor vehicle, whether you’ve suffered a decline in muscle control and vision, or a decline in judgment alone.
The solution to this problem is applicable to drivers of all ages. Never combine driving with alcohol or other drugs, period. If you’re going to drive, don’t drink. If you’re going to drink, find a designated driver or take a taxi.

Finally, young drivers often subject themselves to more distractions than other drivers. These include cell phones, music, friends, and even mental distractions such as anxiety. Distractions take your hands off the steering wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off the driving task. Avoid all distractions not necessary to the driving task. Listen to music only at a level that allows you to hear the noises of the road, and urge your passengers to help you maintain a calm driving environment. Set mental distractions aside, and don’t drive if you can’t focus. Above all, never use your cell phone while driving.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will have severe consequences for you personally.
While impaired, you are much more likely to wreck your car and die. If you wreck and survive, you may have to live with brain damage or paralysis for the rest of your life. In addition, you may have to live with the guilt of having killed another human being.

Impaired driving deaths are not a private matter, either. They often end up in the news, or announced at school or work. What’s more, if you die on the road, there are a number of people who are forced to handle your corpse. Police arriving on the scene of the crash will have to look at your body and make a preliminary decision about whether it’s possible for you to be resuscitated. Paramedics and firefighters who arrive later will have to remove your body from the wreckage—including picking up any severed body parts. If you’re not dead yet, you’ll be taken to a hospital trauma center, where doctors and nurses will work as hard as they can to save your life

Once you’re dead, a coroner or medical examiner will study your corpse to determine cause of death and test for the presence of alcohol and other drugs.
Your dead body will be stored in a morgue and handled by morgue attendants when a family member comes to identify it.
A mortician will then clean and dress your body, unless it has been too severely dismembered or disfigured.
Finally, there will be a funeral. If your face is still recognizable or can be reconstructed, there may be an open casket. Friends, family, and funeral workers will be present to see your corpse or your coffin.

Before getting behind the wheel when you’re impaired, think about how many members of your community will have to see your corpse when you die in a wreck.

Drunk driving has a devastating social impact. Even if you’ve never known someone who was killed by a drunk driver, every victim has friends, family, and other community members who care about them. What if a friend of yours died in a drunk driving collision today? How would you feel hearing the news? Would you speak abDrunk driving fatalities are particularly devastating to families. Think about your own family: do you consider anyone expendable? Even when family tensions are high, the finality of death makes relatives forgive each other. The death of one family member will leave a permanent, painful scar in the memory of all surviving members.out him or her at the funeral? Would you try to console his or her family? How would you feel hanging out with your other friends, permanently short one member?

Drunk driving fatalities are particularly devastating to families. Think about your own family: do you consider anyone expendable? Even when family tensions are high, the finality of death makes relatives forgive each other.
The death of one family member will leave a permanent, painful scar in the memory of all surviving members.

Drunk driving carries serious legal consequences. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, nearly 1.2 million people were arrested in the U.S. for driving under the influence in 2013. That makes up more than 10% of the total number of arrests made that year. In Texas alone, almost 80,000 people (about 8% of all arrests) were charged with DUI or DWI in 2012. Of these, 456 were under 18 years old at the time.

If you are lucky enough to survive the wreck you cause by driving drunk, your troubles are far from over. The penalties for DUI and DWI convictions alone are severe. The penalties for DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, however, are far worse.
If convicted of manslaughter or homicide, you will be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to 15 years. If you also leave the scene of the crime, you may be imprisoned for up to 30 years. If you were convicted and sent to prison at age 18, you would remain in jail until age 48.

The total financial cost of a DWI conviction differs from case to case, but it will always be high: Up to $5,000 in increased insurance rates Up to $10,000 in fines As much as $1,500 or more in attorney’s fees $500 or more in court fees, license reinstatement fees, substance abuse assessment and treatment fees, alcohol awareness course fees, etc. For a grand total of $17,000—not counting any medical expenses or the cost of a new car.

Moreover, your drunk driving collision will cost the city, county, and state a great deal of money. This money will have to come from taxpayers. Sources of these costs include:

Costs of fatalities, including a life of lost productivity
Costs of injuries and medical care
Costs of insurance
Costs of public service announcements
Legal Costs (Courts can’t be used for other things)
Travel Delay
Property Damage
Law Enforcement

Ultimately, in a very real sense, everybody in Texas will have to pay for your mistake.

On the following slides you’ll see a few good options for getting home safely after drinking. However, there’s only one surefire way to bring your chances of causing a drunk driving collision to zero, and it’s not complicated: don’t drink and drive. That’s the simplest, easiest, and surest way to avoid drunk driving. If you have even a sip of alcohol, don’t drive. If you are going to drive, do not have even a sip of alcohol.

If you’re out with friends and anyone plans to drink, be sure to choose a designated driver before anyone starts drinking. The designated driver’s duty is to get everyone home safely. This means he or she can’t have a single sip of alcohol. If you’re drinking alone, don’t bring a car.
Always choose a designated driver. It’s one of the safest and surest ways to avoid drunk driving deaths.

Do not get into a vehicle unless the driver has had nothing at all to drink. If no completely sober driver is available, call your friends and family members until you reach someone who can come pick you up. Even if they’re upset, remember that they’d be much more upset if you killed yourself driving drunk. Whenever you can, call a friend to drive you home safely.

If nobody you call can give you a ride, call a cab. Not only can it save your life, but it will be less expensive than paying for a DUI—and cab seats are much more comfortable than jail cells.
Don’t risk your life to save a few bucks. Just call a cab. It will safely and quickly deliver you to your home.

If you can’t find a safe way to get home, then don’t go home—stay where you are. Whether you’re at a friend’s house or a stranger’s, just find a couch and go to sleep. If you’re not at a house, find a motel. If all else fails, keep in mind that even a park bench or a bus stop will be safer than a car driven by a drunk. It’s nice to wake up at home in the morning, but anything is better than not waking up at all. If you can’t find a safe way home, just stay where you are.

Finally, even if you haven’t had anything to drink, don’t get into a car if the driver has been drinking. The life you save may be your own: in the United States in 2013, 1,567 people were killed while being driven by a drunk driver. That number represents about 16% of all people killed in drunk driving collisions.
If you care about your life, don’t ride with a drunk driver. If you care about your friend’s life, do everything you can to keep him or her from driving. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

Finally, even though you can always control whether you choose to drive after drinking or doing drugs, you can’t control what other people do. Be conscious of the possibility of drunk drivers on the road—even in the morning or afternoon. Learn how to recognize and avoid them.

Alcohol generally makes drivers sloppy and aggressive. Learn to recognize these common signs of drunk driving, and avoid drunk drivers to the fullest extent possible while driving safely.

Poor lane position—swerving, weaving, drifting, or steadily driving too far to the left or right
Illegal maneuvers
Sideswipes or near misses
Speeding or driving too slow
Jerky acceleration
Failure to signal
Slow response to traffic signals
Driving with headlights off at night

As you review the information presented in this unit, consider how to incorporate the following topics into your driving plan. To reduce risk on the road, you must: Understand the extent and seriousness of the drunk driving problem Protect all potential victims of drunk driving, including pedestrians, police officers, and seniors, as well as your own passengers Be aware of, and combat, the alcohol-related risk factors affecting young drivers Motivate yourself to avoid the personal, social, legal, and financial consequences of drunk driving Use any means necessary to avoid driving after consuming alcohol or other drugs

To make sure you’ve done a good job reviewing this unit, you must now pass a test.
The information in this unit is important: if you do not pass the test, you will have to take the entire unit over again.
You can review as much as you wish. Simply return to your dashboard and select the topic you want to review. Do not press NEXT until you are sure you will pass the test.
It is very important for you to review carefully and make sure you know how to reduce risk on the road by understanding the drunk driving problem and doing everything in your power not to make it a part of your life.

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