Driving while impaired by alcohol caused roughly 10,497 fatalities nationwide in 2016, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But data collected by Louisiana officials indicate that there were 333 deaths in our state caused by alcohol impairment that same year. (The figures are collected by the Louisiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Crash Dashboard.)
That’s a shocking percentage: nearly 32% of the total deaths from driving while alcohol-impaired in the U.S. come from Louisiana. The rate of deaths per 100,000 is 3.3 nationally, but it’s much higher in Louisiana at 5.2.
The national group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), rates all states for its laws concerning drinking and driving. In 2016, Louisiana received a 2.5 rating out of a possible 5. Mississippi, by contrast, scored 4.5 out of 5. Only 19% of Mississippi’s total traffic deaths stem from drunk driving. But 30% of Louisiana’s do.
Have drunk driving deaths in Louisiana risen to epidemic proportions?
Prevention Is Key
The sad fact is that drunk driving deaths and accidents in Louisiana and through the country are preventable. We need to encourage all residents of Louisiana not to drink and drive.
In Louisiana, it is illegal for drivers 21 years of age and older to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.02 or above. Many law enforcement officials, though, believe the laws should be stricter. They see the carnage on our roads from drunk driving every day.
Our state also has an implied consent in which anyone with a Louisiana driver’s license has implicitly agreed to a test if law enforcement has reasonable cause to believe that the driver may have been drinking or using illegal substances. The test can be of breath, blood, or urine. If you violate the implied consent law – that is, refuse to be tested – your driver’s license may be suspended for one year.
If you are convicted of a first offense, you may be fined up to $1,000 (plus any court costs), sentenced to jail for a term between 10 days and 6 months, and possibly have an ignition interlock device (IID) placed in your vehicle. Your driving privileges may also be suspended for 90 days.
Penalties and fines go up for second and third offenses.
Do You Need a DUI Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge or Lafayette?
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver, choose a DUI accident lawyer Baton Rouge and Lafayette trust to fight for maximum compensation. For your convenience, Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Our initial consultation is free and there are no legal fees unless we win your case.
- Eldridge, Haylee. Louisiana searches for solution to drunk driving epidemic. The Daily Reveille. July 13, 2018. http://www.lsunow.com/daily/louisiana-searches-for-solution-to-drunk-driving-epidemic/article_ab038aee-8487-11e8-af2c-63cfe1c65e64.html
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Louisiana. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/Drunk_Driving_in_LA.pdf