Drunk driving continues to be a problem in Tennessee

People who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after having a few drinks risk the lives of other motorists on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people were killed in vehicle accidents involving intoxicated drivers in 2012. Although Tennessee law officials enforce strict DUI penalties in an attempt to decrease the number of people affected by drunk drivers, people continue to drink and drive.

The facts

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that the number of people killed in alcohol-related car accidents in Tennessee increased by 14 percent from 2011 to 2012. NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that 643 of the state's 1014 motor vehicle accident deaths involved people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, with the majority of deaths involving a BAC of 0.1 percent or higher.

Repeat offenders

Tennessee has had an ongoing problem of repeat DUI offenders in the state. MADD reports that there were approximately 29,093 DUI arrests in 2012, an increase from the 26,341 arrests that were made the year before. Over 17,000 people charged with driving under the influence of alcohol had at least five previous DUI offenses on their record.

In 2013, Tennessee passed an ignition interlock device law, requiring all convicted DUI offenders to have the breath test devices installed in their vehicles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 50 to 75 percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to drive on a suspended license. Ignition interlock devices help to control that issue, as drivers are not able to start their vehicles without submitting a breath sample with a blood alcohol content that registers below a preset amount, usually 0.02 percent.

The state also organizes sobriety checkpoints, which are placed around the state in hopes of deterring and catching intoxicated drivers.

Hazard to motorists

There is no question that intoxicated drivers pose a significant threat to motorists on the road. According to the NHTSA, even a small amount of alcohol may be enough to change a person's behavior. Although every person responds differently to alcohol, a BAC of 0.02 percent may cause loss of judgment, an altered mood and a decreased ability to perform two tasks simultaneously. A BAC of 0.05 percent is not considered illegal in Tennessee, but it can result in reduced coordination, a decreased response to certain driving situations and a reduced ability to track moving objects while driving. All of these altered characteristics endanger innocent motorists and increase the likelihood that a DUI accident may occur.

Getting legal assistance

People who have been severely injured and emotionally traumatized by an accident involving an intoxicated driver should seek legal assistance. You can receive compensation for your injuries, time lost from work, as well as your pain and suffering.