Can I Have Just One Drink and Be Safe To Drive?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Alcohol in your system can make steering difficult and reduce your ability to respond to emergency situations. It can also reduce your ability to brake appropriately, maintain lane position, and process what is going on the road around you.

Driving ability may be impaired long before you feel “buzzed” or become drunk. You may still feel as if you are sober and in full control of your physical and cognitive abilities. However, a study revealed that driving performance was impaired when BACs were below the legal limit. Furthermore, drivers were unaware of their impairment, even though there was a significant decrease in their driving ability.

Therefore, having just one drink could increase your risk of being involved in a DUI accident.

How Does Consuming Alcohol Impact Driving Ability?

Pennsylvania DUI laws make it illegal to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or higher. However, you can also be arrested for operating a vehicle if the alcohol in your system prevents you from operating a motor vehicle safely. Therefore, you can be arrested for DUI even though your BAC is below the legal limit.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol concentration at low levels can affect driving ability. A BAC of just .02% can cause a loss of judgment. It can also alter your mood and cause you to become more relaxed. The result for driving ability is a decline in visual function and multi-tasking.

A person may lose small-muscle control with a BAC of 05%. They have impaired judgment and lowered alertness. They feel unusually good and are less inhibited. The impact on their driving is reduced ability to track movement, difficulty steering, reduced coordination, and reduced response to emergency driving conditions.

When a person reaches the legal BAC limit of .08%, they experience memory loss, muscle coordination becomes poor, and their reasoning and judgment are impaired. They may not be able to control the vehicle’s speed and cannot concentrate on driving.

Is a Driver Liable for an Accident in Lancaster if They Have Just One Drink?

DUI accidents can cause severe injuries. A driver who causes an accident can be held liable for the damages and injuries a victim incurs. However, you have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the accident.

Proving the driver was intoxicated does not prove the driver caused the accident. It can be used to allege negligence per se, thereby creating a presumption of negligence. However, the other driver can fight the presumption and offer evidence that they did not cause the crash.

Therefore, working with an experienced Lancaster car accident lawyer is wise. Your attorney can investigate the cause of the accident to gather evidence proving causation and fault.

For example, a drunk driver runs a red light. Running the red light was the cause of the crash, even though the driver may have only run the light because they were drunk. Your attorney gathers evidence proving the driver ran the red light, such as eyewitness testimony, video of the collision, and red light timing patterns.

Once you prove that the drunk driver caused the crash, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages. 

What Damages Are Awarded for a DUI Accident in Lancaster, PA?

Pennsylvania personal injury laws allow for compensatory damages in a drunk driving accident claim. Damages include your financial losses (economic damages). You can also receive compensation for pain and suffering (non-economic damages).

Examples of damages for a DUI accident claim include:

A jury may award punitive damages for a DUI accident lawsuit. Punitive damages do not compensate you for your losses and damages. Instead, they punish the defendant for specific types of behavior.

Punitive damages are allowed when the defendant’s conduct was willful, malicious, oppressive, or wanton. Juries can also award punitive damages when the defendant exhibited an evil motive or displayed reckless indifference to other people’s rights. Drinking and driving could fulfill one or more of these criteria for punitive damages.

Keep in mind that if you were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to take legal action against them regardless of your chosen insurance option. Contact an attorney to learn about your best course of action.

What Should I Do After a DUI Accident in Lancaster, PA?

Steps to take after a crash caused by a drunk driver include:

  • Call 911 to report the accident
  • Do not confront the drunk driver (tell the police and let them handle the matter)
  • Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information
  • Take photographs and make a video of the accident scene
  • Seek immediate medical treatment

As soon as possible, contact a Lancaster car accident lawyer. An attorney can explain your rights and evaluate your claim, which can be especially important considering Pennsylvania’s complex “choice no-fault” insurance system.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster PA 17603
(717) 616-2954

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963