If you were riding your motorcycle and another driver hit you, he may have been driving impaired even if he passed the breathalyzer test. Any drinking of alcohol—even one drink—and driving creates a dangerous risk of causing an accident. That’s because alcohol affects your ability to make quick decisions on the road and to react in a split second to changes in the environment. You just are not alert enough if you’ve been consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Because April is Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s especially appropriate to take a few minutes to think about intoxicated drivers. Although there have been many campaigns to educate drivers of the dangers of drinking and driving, people continue to engage in this life-threatening practice. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 11,000 people nationwide were killed in impaired driving accidents in 2012. Alcohol accounted for nearly one-third of all the accident-related fatalities that year. Of the 1,168 vehicle deaths among children aged 14 years old or younger, 20 percent involved an impaired driver.

Small Amounts of Alcohol Consumption Affect Our Judgment and Reflexes

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent for driving a motor vehicle. But it takes much less alcohol consumption to impair our reflexes and judgment. Consider how just a little alcohol in your system impacts on your thinking and reflexes:

  • With a BAC of .02, a person experiences a loss of judgment and an altered mood that reduces visual functions and the ability to perform two tasks at once.
  • With a BAC of .05, a person’s visual perceptions, reaction times, coordination, ability to track moving objects, and ability to react to changing driving situations is reduced.
  • With a BAC of .08, a person’s balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing are poor. His judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are also significantly impaired.

With only one drink—a 12 ounce glass of beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5 ounce shot of hard alcohol—a woman weighing 120 pounds or more will have a BAC of between .02 and .04 depending on her weight. A man who weighs 120 pounds or more would have a BAC between .02 and .03 percent after drinking just one drink. This is the effect of consuming one alcoholic drink.

Most people have more than one drink when they are drinking socially. A woman weighing 120 pounds or more who drinks two drinks will have a BAC of between .04 and .08. A man’s BAC would be in the .03 to .07 range.

So even if the person who caused your accident passed a breathalyzer, it doesn’t mean that his two drinks at the bar didn’t reduce his ability to drive safely. His reaction time and judgment were weakened. He probably couldn’t see as well. His drinking was most likely a huge contributing factor in causing the accident. And he, not you, should pay your medical expenses, lost wages, and motorcycle repair costs.

If you or someone in your family was hurt in an accident where the other driver was at fault, we understand the stress you’re feeling over your growing medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. We’re here for you. Contact our friendly legal team instead of talking to the other driver or his insurance company. Fill out the online form on this page for a free consultation.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982