Those who have been the victim of a drunk driver often wonder what possesses people to get behind the wheel after they've been drinking -- risking their own life and those of countless others. One car insurance company surveyed 1,000 American drivers about drinking and driving. Their answers reflect some interesting generational and gender differences in beliefs and behavior.
Knowing When It's Not Safe to Drive
A significant factor in drunk driving is whether people believe they've had too much to drink to safely and legally drive. It generally takes three to four drinks for a person to reach the .08 legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC). A "drink" is considered a shot of spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. However, the answers people gave when asked how many drinks they could consume and still drive varied significantly.
The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to say that they could drive safely after having enough drinks to likely put them over the legal limit. That was 12 percent for Millennials, 6 percent for Generation Xers and just 3 percent for Baby Boomers. Women were more likely to say they felt they could drive safely (12 percent) than men (8 percent).
Calling for a Ride
Men were more likely to use rideshare services or call a cab than women if they'd had too much to drink (43 percent versus 38 percent). The most common reason for calling a ride for men was that friends made them. Seventy percent cited that reason, while only 30 percent of women did. For women, the most common reasons were that they anticipated continuing to drink at their next destination or didn't want to deal with parking. Another reason given by both genders was that they realized that they were too drunk to drive.
Driving or Letting a Friend Drive Drunk
About half of respondents admitted to having driven drunk. The most common reason was that they thought they were sober enough. Other reasons, in descending order, were that they had no other transportation option, they thought they wouldn't be pulled over, they didn't want to leave their vehicle and they'd driven under the influence before without consequences.
The vast majority of people of both genders claimed they wouldn't let a friend drive after drinking (93 percent of women and 80 percent of men). The reasons given by those would largely parallel those for driving drunk themselves.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash with a drunk driver, that driver will likely face criminal legal consequences. However, you should also explore your options for seeking compensation via civil action.
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