Everyone knows that drunk driving is a bad thing, but most people haven’t thought a lot about it beyond the obvious. Many people who seem like highly moral people and who know the dangers of drinking make a choice to drink and drive and are shocked when they get into car accidents or get arrested for DWI.
Pillars of the community, judges, and religious leaders, all end up enmeshed in the system when they forget the number one rule: “Don’t drink and drive.”
When people think about it at all, they think more of the external consequences. Some may think first about their own loved ones, and how the consequences of getting a DUI charge would affect them.
They may also consider the loved ones of any people who would become victim to alcohol-related crashes caused by drunk drivers, innocently going about their business until lives are destroyed by a careless act.
Sometimes a drunk driving arrest is a person’s only encounter with the criminal justice system, and people find themselves frightened and confused as to how they could have made such a mistake.
According to NHTSA, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was a traffic-related fatality every 48 seconds in the United States in 2017. The FBI also estimated that over a million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2016.
In Arizona, law enforcement and the courts refer to intoxicated driving as DUI, or driving under the influence, instead of DWI, or driving while intoxicated, but they will understand if you use them interchangeably.
If an officer wants to check your BAC or blood alcohol concentration, a breathalyzer test or chemical test may be used.
The legal limit in most states is .08%, so if your blood alcohol content is equal to or greater than .08, you can be charged with misdemeanor DUI.
The amount of alcohol it takes to reach that limit depends on your weight and personal tolerance, but the law presumes that your driving skills are impaired if you have reached that BAC level.
Arizona, on the other hand, is a no-tolerance state. That means if you are driving recklessly and an officer suspects you to be under the influence, you could be charged with a misdemeanor DUI for having any BAC over 0.
If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you could use your driver’s license privileges, get sentenced to jail time, be put on probation, and be ordered to pay fines. Beyond the legal penalties, getting arrested could harm your reputation and cause you embarrassment.
How to Prevent Car Accidents
No matter how careful you are, you could end up in an accident. You don’t have control over your entire environment or even undetectable mechanical malfunction until it’s too late.
Happily, there are some things you can do to drastically reduce your chances of being in a car accident.
Drive-In The Middle Lane
Unsurprisingly, there is a disproportionate number of crashes in the fast or passing lane. The people in the fast lane are usually in a hurry, trying to break traffic laws and beat the other vehicles.
The middle lane is almost always your safest option, letting you coast along in your lane while avoiding the aggressive drivers in the fast lane and the vehicles merging on the far right, which also causes problems. Staying in the middle lane and maintaining a safe distance will also keep you from being noticed by police officers out writing tickets.
Look Out For Obstacles
Instead of looking for ways to get ahead, keep your eyes open for obstacles and hazards. Cyclists and pedestrians especially may not show up on your radar until it’s too late unless you stay vigilant constantly. Practice noticing movement in both your direct and peripheral vision.
Arrange Your Mirrors Properly
Arrange your mirrors so you have a clear, panoramic view all the way around your vehicle.
Keep Your Car Maintenance Up To Date
Learn your car and its limitations. Keep it well maintained, and have repairs done as soon as possible so your vehicle remains mechanically sound and trustworthy.
Take Extra Caution At Night
Be especially cautious at night when other drivers may be intoxicated or tired.
Have A Designated Driver
If you are out and you decide to drink, call a friend or Uber so you won’t have to drive. When drinking in a group with friends, choose one designated driver at the beginning of the night so that there will be a sober driver at the end of the night when you go home.
Dangerous Driving Behaviors
Driving is the most dangerous thing you do, yet you do it every day without feeling frightened. At least you can try to avoid some particularly dangerous driving behaviors.
The activities most likely to cause fatal crashes are driving left of center and driving into oncoming traffic, but about 1 in 5 fatalities were caused by someone going too fast for conditions.
People forget when the weather is bad, and the streets are wet that they need to be careful. When you aren’t trying to rush, you’re much more likely to reach your destination safely.
There are basically three kinds of distracted driving, and none of them have good consequences. Manual distractions have to do with taking your hands off the wheel, while visual distractions refer to when you take your eyes off the road.
Probably the most common kind of distracted driving is cognitive, where you take your mind off your driving.
Distracted driving is only made worse by modern technology, first with stereo systems and then with cell phones. Many people have phone conversations while driving or even text and drive.
Almost everyone has a cell phone, and people have a hard time letting go of the need to be in constant communication with friends and loved ones.
Strong emotions are another potential danger. Emotional driving is distracted driving, especially anger. When you are angry, you may find yourself driving aggressively, driving too fast and too close, and passing dangerously.
Being worried or depressed can also cause you to lose focus as you instead think about your problems or get lost in emotion.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
It is impossible to stay focused every second, but you can cultivate some habits that will help you keep your mind on the road. One of the best ways to practice safe driving is to always make sure you leave on time.
When you start off knowing that you have enough time to reach your destination, you will find it easier to pay attention to the road. Being in a hurry only makes you more emotional as you worry about reaching your destination in time.
When you find that you simply aren’t focused, go ahead and pull over so you can get yourself together. Considering how many crashes are caused by distracted driving, it only makes sense to learn good habits, so you can keep your family safe.
Arizona Driving Laws
We learn to pass the test for our driver’s license, and then we eventually forget some of the details of the traffic rules. Refreshing yourself on some of the basic Arizona traffic rules is another way to help make sure you’re safe on the road.
Here are some of the rules you should remember:
Move Over For Emergency Vehicles
Always move to the left when you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. It will protect you and the people on the side of the road, and keep you from getting a ticket.
Wait For Instruction From Officers During Accidents
When there is an accident blocking multiple lanes of traffic, traffic may be diverted, and officers may move in to keep people from approaching the accident scene. Stay back, be patient, and wait for instructions from the officers.
Proceed With Caution Through Traffic Lights
Be careful at traffic lights. When they are out because of a storm, treat the intersection as a 4-way stop. Proceed cautiously on yellow flashing lights, yielding to vehicles that have the right-of-way, and come to a complete stop at flashing red lights.
Pay Attention To Who Has The Right Of Way
Pay attention to whose turn it is. This seems to be the thing motorists forget first after they get their license. You should go when it’s your turn, but not at the price of crashing if someone else is going out of turn. Always yield to pedestrians and vehicles that have the right of way.
Car Crash Attorneys
If you have been injured in a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. At Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, we understand the intricacies of the law and what kinds of factors may have led to your being injured.
Whether you were injured by an intoxicated driver who couldn’t deal with traffic because of slow reaction times or a driver who broke different traffic rules, we can help you build your case to prove that you were not the source of your own injuries.
The number of car crashes has been trending upward in recent years, causing losses in the billions of dollars. You may be able to recover medical bills, time lost from work, and many other expenses. If you think you might have a case, or if you are not sure, please call today for a free consultation.