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Drunk Driving: How Alcohol Impairs the Brain

By Dallas Personal Injury Attorney on May 14, 2021

There is no doubt that alcohol consumption impairs the brain and affects driving skills. Alcohol or other drugs are involved in approximately 40% of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. every year, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Alcohol affects a driver’s ability to operate machinery, perceive surroundings, and react to emergencies. Here’s how it impairs brain function in several different ways, which often leads to catastrophic accidents.

Lack of Judgment

When someone consumes alcohol, it affects his brain, and particularly his ability to judge situations, before it affects the rest of his body. Drinking impairs your ability to reason, plan, think clearly, and make sound decisions. Losing those abilities is particularly dangerous when a person is driving.

Slow Reaction Time

Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to process external information and respond to it quickly. As a central nervous system “depressant,” It slows your reflexes and decreases your ability to understand and react immediately to situations that arise. Drivers under the influence of alcohol cannot respond as quickly to stimuli as they can when they are sober. Decreased reaction time can easily result in accidents.

Decrease in Vision

Drinking alcohol slows the eye muscles and reduces peripheral vision. It impairs your ability to control your eye movement and see clearly. It can cause double vision, blurry vision, and interfere with the ability to focus. It also reduces a driver’s ability to judge the distance, speed, and movement of other vehicles.

Loss of Concentration

To operate motor vehicles skillfully, drivers must focus on several factors at once, such as their vehicle’s speed and position, other vehicles on the road, obstacles, and traffic signs. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your ability to concentrate on several tasks simultaneously. Drunk drivers, who are distracted and have short attention spans, often crash.

Inability to Balance

Alcohol causes difficulty with balance and coordination. A staggering gait is one of the most widely recognized signs of intoxication. This condition is routinely assessed by police officers, who administer standard roadside tests to detect a driver’s stance imbalance and lack of hand-eye coordination. Being unable to balance and coordinate can significantly affect a driver’s ability to react to situations.

Loss of Color Distinction

Traffic signals, signs, and roadway markings come in different colors, which account for a great deal of information we receive on the road. Consuming alcohol reduces a driver’s ability to distinguish colors, and consequently, navigate the streets safely.

The Myth About “Sobering Up”

There is nothing except time that can get alcohol out of your system, according to the NHTSA. Eating food, drinking coffee, getting fresh air, or taking a cold shower – none of these things will get someone sober quickly. It takes approximately one hour for the body to get rid of one standard drink. A person who had four drinks should wait four hours before driving. Impairment begins with the first drink – even one cocktail can affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle.

What Can You Do If You Have Been Injured by a Drunk Driver?

If you have been hurt in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you have a right to file a claim for compensation. In addition to compensatory damages to make up for your losses, you may be entitled to receive punitive damages, which are designed to punish wrongdoers like drunk drivers. Compensatory damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Disabilities
  • Non-economic “pain and suffering” damages

There is a cap on punitive damages in Texas. You may be entitled to twice the amount of your economic damages plus the amount of your non-economic damages (not to exceed $750,000).

To recover the full costs of your injuries after a car accident, you need a skilled attorney who will not rest until you get the money you deserve. At The Lenahan Law Firm, we limit the number of cases we take to give each client the time they need. We have years of experience recovering millions of dollars for our clients, including after serious drunk driving accidents. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers can provide the knowledge and expertise you need after a collision. Call us today at (214) 295-1008 to schedule a free consultation.

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