We all know that drinking and driving can be deadly, but recent evidence suggests alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents are significantly under reported.
A study in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reviewed the death certificates for people killed in motor vehicle accidents. Researchers found that a large number of the documents failed to list alcohol as a factor even when the police report stated that the crash was caused by a drunk driver. The study found that just over 3% of the death certificates listed alcohol as a contributing cause. However, based on the information in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 21% percent of those deaths could be attributed to a legally drunk driver.
One possible reason for the under-reporting is that toxicology reports often take up to one week to be processed, but a death certificate is usually required to be filed within three to five days. Testing of deceased drivers is also only required in about half of the states.
Legal Intoxication in Idaho
Idaho law defines legal intoxication according to Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Drivers over 21 are considered legally intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08%, but drivers under 21 are considered legally intoxicated with a BAC of 0.02%. For those who are operating commercial vehicles, 0.04% is the BAC for legal intoxication.
BAC depends upon a person’s gender and body weight. The heavier you are, the more you can drink before you are considered legally impaired. However, even if they weigh the same, women will become intoxicated quicker than men. For example, a 180-pound man would need to drink about four drinks per hour to have a BAC of 0.08%, but a 180-pound woman would have a BAC of 0.08% after just three drinks. One drink is considered a twelve ounce beer, a five ounce glass of wine, or one shot of hard liquor.
Although the the legal standard for drunk driving refer to BAC, it should be noted that drivers can experience impairment before they are considered legally intoxicated. For this reason, it is recommended that you avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve had anything to drink. Calling a cab or having a friend serve as your designated driver is the best way to ensure that you arrive home safely.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
If you are injured by an intoxicated driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. The experienced attorneys at Holzer Edwards are dedicated to representing Idaho residents who have been injured due to the negligence of others. Please call (208) 386-9119 or toll-free at (888) 490-0992 for a free consultation.