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How does alcohol affect driving abilities?

Alcohol is everywhere. It can be found at restaurants, in bars, and on grocery store shelves. While those who enjoy alcohol responsibly are at little risk of harming others, those who drink and then choose to climb behind the wheel of a vehicle can put others in harm's way. Most of the time when Illinois residents think of drunk driving, they think of those who are over the legal limit. While technically legally drunk at that point, even lesser amounts of alcohol can effect an individual's ability to drive.

Just about any amount of alcohol in an individual's system and negatively impact his or her driving abilities. For example, having a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, of just .02 percent, approximately the equivalent of having two alcoholic drinks, can decrease an individual's visual functioning, meaning that he or she may have difficulty in tracking moving objects. At this level, an individual may also experience a decrease in multi-tasking abilities, meaning that it is more difficult for him or her to divide his or her attention.

At the legal limit, .08 percent, a driver may experience difficulty with concentration, speed control, and perception. The motorist might experience short-term memory loss and have trouble processing information such as signal detection. Once a driver reaches .10 percent BAC, he or she may have difficulty maintaining his or her lane and braking appropriately. At .15 BAC, or about seven alcoholic drinks, the driver may find it difficult to control his or her vehicle, pay attention to driving duties, and process visuals and sounds that are vital to safe driving.

As can be seen, alcohol can have a significant impact on a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle in a way that is safe. Far too often, these drunk drivers cause serious wrecks that can leave individuals seriously injured or even dead. Therefore, those who are hurt in an auto accident, or who lose a loved one in such a crash, should think about filing a lawsuit in an attempt to recover compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Source: CDC, "Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)," accessed on Oct. 25, 2015

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