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Facts Wisconsin drivers should know about impaired driving

Wisconsin drivers should be aware that alcohol-impaired drivers lead to roughly 30 deaths each day in the United States alone, or one death in every 51 minutes. In fact, almost one-third of all traffic-related deaths involve a driver with a blood-alcohol content of higher than the legal limit of .08. In addition to the injured victims, impaired drivers are far more likely to be killed or injured in an accident themselves.

Alcohol is not the only major source of impairment on the road. Approximately 18 percent of all traffic related deaths were caused by drivers under the influence of drugs. Young people face a significantly higher risk of being involved in a drug or alcohol impaired car accident. In 2012 alone, 29 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents had blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit. Those between the ages of 40 and 44 were the most likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

There are preventative measures that can be taken to minimize deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend sobriety checkpoints and regular enforcement of the .08 blood-alcohol law for drivers. Ignition interlock devices are also known to be effective in preventing impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel with a reduction rate of approximately 70 percent.

Injured Wisconsin drivers and passengers may pursue civil compensation for damages caused by an impaired driver in addition to any criminal charges. Loved ones of a victim killed in a fatal accident may also pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver. Even if an impaired driver is not charged with a crime, he or she may still hold civil liability if it is determined that they acted negligently by getting behind the wheel while impaired.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Impaired Driving: Get the Facts", January 06, 2015

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