If you are age 21 or older and want to have a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage while dining out with friends, you're not necessarily breaking the law if you then get behind the wheel of a car to drive. However, because drunk driving causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, Pennsylvania law allows severe penalties under conviction for illegally operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
All motorists are obligated to adhere to drunk driving laws. If your blood alcohol content level is .08 percent or higher and you cause a collision that injures another person, you may face criminal charges and, possibly, jail time if a judge hands down a conviction. On the other hand, what if you are the victim? If a drunk driver causes you to suffer injury, you may have legal options.
Behaviors that raise suspicion for possible driver intoxication
If you're driving along a Pennsylvania highway and you suddenly notice another vehicle veering over the yellow line, you may be sharing the road with a drunk driver. Such situations are highly dangerous because you might not be able to distance yourself from the other vehicle. The following list shows other driving maneuvers that should alert you to suspect drunk driving:
- If a driver appears to be having trouble controlling the vehicle's speed, he or she may be cognitively impaired due to intoxication.
- Cars that are traveling too close to parked vehicles or curbs may have drunk drivers at the wheel.
- Loss of muscle control is a common effect of alcohol consumption. This can affect a driver's ability to steer properly, thus causing a vehicle to drift out of its lane.
- Drunk drivers often lose their ability to think clearly due to high levels of alcohol in their bloodstreams. This might manifest itself as forgetting to use headlights when it's dark outside or failure to stop at a red light.
- Even sober people can have trouble multi-tasking. Drunk drivers, in particular, often become easily confused when various traffic situations are concurrently happening around them, which can easily lead to a collision.
In 2017, approximately one person died in a drunk driving accident every 48 minutes. The more alert and cautious you are at the wheel, the better chance you have of reaching your destination unscathed. However, even the best driving skills may not be enough to prevent disaster if a drunk driver is nearby.
The aftermath of a drunk driving accident
Drunk driving is a criminal offense and not a minor traffic violation. Obtaining medical attention is one of your highest priorities if you are involved in a collision on a Pennsylvania roadway. Beyond that, the recovery support you need depends on your particular condition. Every recovery is unique, although many accident victims can relate to each other's experiences. Seeking restitution often helps offset medical expenses and other injury-related costs. Some people use court-awarded monies to seek licensed counseling to help deal with post-accident emotional trauma.