DUI Threats During Your Morning Commute

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a recent article by CBS 2 detailing the very real, unexpected dangers of drunken drivers during morning commutes.

The article features the story of one man, Don Boso, who survived a crash caused by an intoxicated driver around 6 a.m. one morning. Boso stopped at a red light on his way to work, and accelerated when the light turned green. That is the last thing he remembers.

He awoke in a hospital, where doctors told him they did not expect him to survive the next 24 hours. Fortunately, he did survive, and now hopes his story will serve as a wake-up call to others. Most people think that by the time the sun comes up people have ended their nightly activities. If people are seen driving poorly in the daytime it is typically written off as unfamiliarity to the area or simple distractions.

Highway patrols affirm that morning drunken driving is a growing problem, however. CBS obtained a video of a woman failing a sobriety test at 7 a.m., illustrating that the worst time for drunk driving in the morning is between 6 and 9, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Paul Russo’s brother Vincent, for example, was killed at 8 a.m. on his way to morning mass by a drunk driver. He left his wife at home, and was about seven minutes away from church when his car was struck. The driver had previous DUI convictions, and may have been drinking throughout the previous night. Paul suspects he was at a bar until about 3 a.m., and continued to drink as the morning progressed.

People largely underestimate the effect alcohol has on their bodies, particularly after drinking for long periods of time. They assume they can just sleep it off or have something to eat, and after a few hours and be good to drive. Depending on the size and weight of that person, however, it can take several hours – five or six – for alcohol to leave their system.

In May 2013 New York State passed a law named after Vincent Russo, which creates a new felony charge for drivers who are convicted of three or more DUIs. The new law carries potential for up to 15 years in prison.

Most Americans are aware that getting behind the wheel, although unavoidable for many, is the most dangerous thing they do every day. Time of day plays an important role in recognizing drunk drivers and avoiding crashes, and although instances of drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving all significantly increase during the night hours, the risk of the morning commute should not be overlooked.

About 49% of fatal crashes happen at night, with a fatality rate an estimated three times as high as daytime. The hours with the least amount of crashes are between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. simply because they see the least amount of traffic. By the time the sun rises, however, all bets are off.

The hours around bar close, which vary from state to state, often involve exceedingly high rates of fatal drunk driving crashes. One particularly devastating crash occurred at 1:15 a.m. after a UC Berkeley graduation celebration. The driver, a Berkeley graduate student, was traveling at 64 miles per hour with a blood alcohol content of 0.219% when he crashed into a tree, killing his girlfriend and her 6-year-old son. They had been out drinking to celebrate Lopez’s recent graduation.

Lopez’s family brought a lawsuit against UC Berkeley, the driver, and other unnamed individuals for being negligent in failing to prevent the fatal crash. Lopez’s boyfriend allegedly had a drinking problem and was often abusive. Two weeks before the crash, Lopez reached out to a UC staff member to inform of several domestic violence incidents. The lawsuit claims UC was in a position to help prevent any further abuse.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience advocating on behalf of those injured by drunken or otherwise negligent drivers. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a crash, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills, emotional distress, or lost wages.