Drinking and driving is a dangerous proposition, but even drivers below the legal limit can put you in danger. Impaired drivers make mistakes, and your recovery could hinge on holding them accountable.

Virginia saw over 7,000 alcohol-related crashes last year, according to the Virginia Highway Safety Office. Hundreds die in those accidents every year, and more than half are injured. But a driver doesn’t need to be fall-down drunk to cause an accident. Their choice to get behind the wheel after only a few drinks may have been the primary cause of your injuries.

Testing the limits

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for operating a motor vehicle is .08, but inhibited abilities start long before then:

  • Warming up: A BAC of .02 may not seem like much, but it can still have an impact on safely driving a car. Decision-making begins to decline, vision becomes sluggish and handling more than one task becomes difficult.
  • Losing control: Things can grow even riskier before that magic .08 number. At .05, drivers will usually have even more trouble focusing, problems steering the car and dangerously slow reaction times.
  • At the limit: Drinking hits coordination, concentration and control on the way to .08, but they reach perilous lows at the legal limit. Impairment on most of the abilities they need for operating a motor vehicle will be below safe levels.

You might be able to spot a driver that’s over the legal limit, but it’s important to watch out for subtler signs. They may not be falling over and slurring, but being able to recognize a driver that’s been drinking could be crucial when it comes time to make your claim.