The rate of drunk driving has decreased nationwide due to tougher laws and aggressive efforts by law enforcement agencies. The percentage of drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence during the weekends has decreased from 38 percent to 8 percent, according to a report on WDAY news. While the traffic survey suggests that the nation’s highways may be getting safer, the decrease may not be occuring in North Dakota.
With the influx of more workers to North Dakota’s oil fields in recent years, North Dakota law enforcement agencies say they are not seeing a decrease in the amount of drunk driving on the state’s roadways. The 62 alcohol-related fatalities in North Dakota in 2013 were nearly twice as high as the total number 10 years ago.
In 2013, the most recent year of full traffic data, 42 percent of traffic fatalities in North Dakota were alcohol related, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nationwide, about 31 percent of fatal accidents involved drunk drivers that year.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol makes approximately 1900 DUI and DUI-related arrests each year – about 5 arrests per day.
What do the statistics mean for North Dakota families, workers, and others who are sharing roadways and highways with drunk drivers? They mean that drivers and their loved ones need to know how to protect themselves from being involved in a collision with a drunk driver and need to be informed about what to do if they find themselves the victim of a drunk driving crash.
Cracking Down on Drunk Driving in North Dakota
To help lower the high rate of DUI incidents in North Dakota, the N.D. Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies are taking aggressive measures against DUI drivers. These measures include roadside checkpoints that screen drivers traveling along heavily-used roads as well as awareness campaigns to inform the public about what to do if they suspect a driver is under the influence. Some of the things ordinary citizens can do to decrease the occurrence of DUI include:
- Have a designated driver if you go out drinking, or call a taxi to get home if you have consumed alcohol;
- Call a cab for a friend who is intoxicated or offer to drive your friend home;
- Do not let him or her continue to drink when he or she is obviously intoxicated.
If You Are on the Road and Suspect Another Driver is Under the Influence
- Be aware of signs of impairment such as swerving or weaving, unexplained speeding, slowing down, or a failure to react to traffic lights, signs, or other traffic;
- Keep your distance from the vehicle – do not attempt to pass the vehicle unless you are certain you can do so safely and have plenty of room to maneuver if necessary;
- Call police right away. Be prepared to provide your name, your contact number, your location (as best as you can – describe landmarks if necessary) as well as a description of the vehicle and what you have seen it do.
Why Alcohol and Driving Do Not Mix
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when you have been in drinking and are intoxicated is dangerous and against the law. Too much alcohol impairs your ability to operate a car or truck safely. Taking prescription medications and/or illegal drugs can compound the effect of the alcohol. Alcohol increases the likelihood that you will be involved in a car crash because:
- Your judgment is impaired, making you more prone to taking risks;
- Your reflexes are slowed, meaning that it takes you more time to react to obstacles and hazards like other cars or pedestrians;
- Your vision and other senses are dulled, making it more difficult for you to perceive others on the road;
- Your ability to concentrate on two or more tasks at the same time – such as controlling the direction and speed of your car – is impaired.
Although many individuals are familiar with the .08 limit in North Dakota, the truth is that you can be too impaired to drive a vehicle safely, with an alcohol concentration that is even lower. It is best to have a designated driver or alternate transportation arrangements if you plan on going out and drinking alcohol.
My Loved One or I Have Been Injured in a DUI Crash – What Should I Do?
If you or your loved one has been involved in a North Dakota DUI crash, seeking immediate medical attention for your injuries should be your top priority. When you are able, you should write down as many details about the accident and about the at-fault driver as possible. Make special note of anything you sensed that gave you reason to believe the other driver was under the influence of alcohol —things like an admission of drinking, odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, stumbling or swaying).
You should speak with a North Dakota car accident attorney as soon as possible. A driver who causes a car crash that results in injury can be held responsible for paying you compensation for your injuries, losses, and expenses. The sooner you retain an attorney to represent you, the sooner he or she can take important actions to give you the best chance of recovering compensation. These actions include:
- Locating, contacting, interviewing and deposing eyewitnesses who saw the other driver drinking, driving, or who responded to the crash;
- Gathering evidence of your losses and expenses like medical bills and treatment costs;
- Asking to preserve any tests conducted on the other driver’s breath or blood that were conducted for the purpose of discovering alcohol or drugs;
- Handling questions posed by the insurance companies involved; and
- Ensuring your lawsuit is timely filed and prosecuted.
Contact a Minot Car Accident Attorney Today
The Larson Law Firm, P.C. is your North Dakota car accident law firm and is available to help if a drunk driver has caused harm to you or your family member. We understand the difficulties you are going through. We are ready to deal with the insurance adjusters and lead you through the legal process of filing a personal injury claim, if needed, after a serious accident. A North Dakota car accident lawyer will guide you through the legal recovery process while fighting to obtain the compensation you need. Contact us for a free case evaluation by calling 701-484-4878.