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What is considered impaired driving in AZ and does it cause harm?

Impaired driving generally refers to a reduction in the ability of a driver to perform driving skills considered to be critical for the safe operation of a vehicle. Many people may be under the wrong impression that a driver is considered to be impaired only if that person is under the influence of alcohol. The terms impaired driving and drunk driving are interchangeably used by many. However, our Arizona residents may find it informative to learn that impaired driving can be caused by not only alcohol but also other drugs.

Although many controlled substances have been implicated in impaired driving accidents, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety alcohol related impaired driving accounts for a little over 25 percent of crash related costs. In fact, alcohol related impaired driving crashes are a lot deadlier and result in more serious injuries than other non-impaired driving crashes.

Using the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration formula to estimate the number of alcohol related crashes in AZ, in 2002 it was estimated that a little over 8000 crashes were related to impaired driving due to alcohol. Out of those, over 480 people lost their lives and thousands were injured. Though impaired driving crashes have significantly been reduced in part due to initiatives and public service announcements such as 'You Drink & Drive. You Lose' and 'Friends don't let Friends drive drunk', unfortunately drunk driving accidents and impaired driving accidents still happen causing serious injuries and death.

It is estimated that the average impaired driving fatality due to alcohol impairment costs over 3 million in AZ with nearly 2.4 million for reduction in quality in life losses. Furthermore, it is estimated that on average the cost for each injured survivor is about $87,000.

Clearly, impaired driving accidents are not only expensive but also cause a lot of pain to those impacted by the accident.

Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety, "Impaired Driving," Accessed Jan. 12, 2015

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Law Office of Keith A. Hammond, P.C.

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