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Why driving while buzzed is more dangerous than you think

Most people know that getting behind the wheel while drunk carries the risk of causing a serious accident. If you ask your friends how drunk is too drunk to drive, chances are they will bring up the legal definition of a 0.8 percent blood alcohol level. They may also mention clear signs of impairment such as lack of physical coordination. What many people still do not know is that buzzed driving can be just as risky and is to blame for a high percentage of serious crashes.

What is buzzed driving?

Buzzed driving happens when the driver has had alcohol, but not enough to hit the legal limit. While the law needs to have a clear definition, in reality it is not sensible to expect a driver to be fine at a 0.7 percent BAC and dangerously drunk at 0.8 percent. The transition to impairment is gradual, and many drivers will not notice themselves getting progressively more affected.

How does a small amount of alcohol affect driving?

Even a small amount of alcohol can have subtle yet serious effects on a motorist's ability to drive safely. Initial signs of impairment can manifest as delayed reaction times, decreased ability to focus and growing fatigue. Even this relatively small degree of impairment can prevent a driver from reacting appropriately, especially in the presence of added risk factors. Some common hazards include wet or icy weather, obstacles in the road, detours, poor visibility and risky driving by other motorists.

What happens when people are unaware of the dangers of buzzed driving?

In some ways, driving while buzzed may be a more widespread and insidious danger than drunk driving. When people see someone who is clearly intoxicated reach for the car keys, they are more likely make an effort to stop that person from driving. People who have had just a drink or two also tend to underestimate the effects they experience. In fact, this amount of alcohol often acts as a confidence booster, generating an exaggerated belief in one's own capabilities.

Although buzzed driving may not result in a DUI conviction, in many cases it arguably falls into the category of reckless driving. Increasingly, state and federal agencies have pushed for a wider awareness of the dangers of buzzed driving, such as the Colorado DOT information campaign.

If you were injured in a car accident related to buzzed driving, you have the recourse of filing a civil lawsuit to get compensation for your medical bills and other expenses. Just because there may not have been a DUI does not mean that the buzzed driver did nothing wrong. Consult a knowledgeable attorney in your area to learn about available options for handling your case.

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