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DWI accidents still lead to thousands of deaths, statistics show

Summertime in California presents many opportunities for social drinking. Whether it is at a concert or festival, at a tailgating event or even simply at a barbecue at a friend's house, summer events often mean some people will get behind the wheel of a car after having consumed too much alcohol. Unfortunately, this often leads to drunk driving accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 nationwide almost 10,000 individuals died in drunk driving crashes, constituting 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the nation. Moreover, of the over 1,000 fatal accidents in 2014 involving children ages 0 to 14, almost 20 percent involved a drunk driver. In 2014, of those drivers with a blood-alcohol content level at or above the legal limit involved in fatal accidents, 30 percent were between 21 and 24 years old.

Driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol is also a serious problem. In fact, in approximately 16 percent of car accidents, drugs other than alcohol played a role in the crash. These drugs can be legal drugs, such as over-the-counter medications or prescription medications, or they can be illegal drugs. For instance, drivers who used marijuana were approximately 25 percent more likely to become involved in a car accident when compared to drivers who did not use marijuana, although age and gender may also play a role in the risk factor for drivers who use marijuana.

These sobering statistics show that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very real problem in our nation. While actively enforcing existing drunk driving laws, using sobriety checkpoints and promoting DWI prevention are all steps that can be taken to prevent drunk driving, in the end it is up to individuals to be responsible and either not drive under the influence or have a designated driver in place.

Furthermore, Californians who have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver may want to explore what legal steps they can take to hold the drunk driver responsible, including the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit.

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