Alcohol plays a key role in a high percentage of OWI accidents. This is especially true over the holidays. As people are traveling to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, they tend to drink more than at other times of the year. This leads to an increase in OWI arrests and accidents during holiday weekends.
OWI Accident Statistics
- Approximately 30% of all traffic-related deaths are caused by drunk drivers.
- Over one million people are arrested each year for OWI/DUI.
- Around 300,000 people are injured in OWI accidents each year.
- 2 out of 3 people will be involved in an OWI accident in their lifetime.
Over Thanksgiving weekend:
- Alcohol sales increase by over 100% on Thanksgiving Eve
- About 45 million Americans travel by car
- In the past 5 years, 800 people have died in drunk driving accidents.
How Alcohol Impairs Driving
Many individuals who drive while intoxicated report that they felt sober enough to drive, and are surprised when they are arrested for OWI. Let’s go over how a relatively small amount of alcohol can impair driving ability and lead to accidents.
When a driver has been drinking alcohol, it affects their ability to concentrate. There are many things that drivers must pay attention to, like road signs and surrounding vehicles. Alcohol hinders one’s ability to focus, and especially to focus on multiple things. This can lead to a devastating accident.
Alcohol slows reaction time. This means that if a driver needs to quickly respond to an obstacle on the road, their reaction time will be delayed if they have been drinking alcohol.
If you wear glasses or contacts, imagine how dangerous it would be to get behind the wheel without them. Alcohol affects the eyes, leading to blurry vision. When driving at night with impaired vision, this can be a recipe for disaster.
Alcohol affects one’s ability to accurately assess risk. This means that many intoxicated people engage in more risk-taking behavior. On the road, this could translate to:
- Quick turns
- Driving too close to other cars
- Focusing on distractions, like texting
Types of OWI Accidents
If you are found responsible for an OWI accident, the potential criminal penalties you face vary greatly depending on what type of accident occurred.
OWI Accident Causing Property Damage
The first type of OWI accident is one that results in property damage. If you cause an accident that results in someone else’s property being damaged, you face:
- Jail time
- Community service
- Driver’s license suspension
After these types of accidents, many drivers are tempted to leave the scene. This is especially true when no one was present to witness the accident. However, leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage is a separate misdemeanor offense, and will lead to more severe penalties.
OWI Accident Causing Injury or Death
If an impaired driver causes an accident that leads to someone’s injury or death, the case becomes substantially more severe.
If someone was seriously injured in an OWI accident, the intoxicated driver faces:
- Up to 5 years in jail
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- License suspension and vehicle forfeiture
- It is also possible that the driver will be required to pay restitution to the victim.
If the OWI accident resulted in death, the driver faces increased penalties:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
In addition to potential manslaughter or murder charges, the driver may also be charged with reckless driving causing death.
What You Should Do After an OWI Accident
If you are being charged with OWI following an accident, contact the team at Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law today. We understand that prosecutors are quick to blame the accident on the intoxicated driver when in reality, the accident may have been caused by another unrelated factor. To discuss the details of your case with a member of our Kalamazoo legal team, call (269) 218-8880.