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Don’t Be Fooled: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

Updated June 29, 2022 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Every driver on the road has the responsibility to be as safe as possible—both for their own sake and for the safety of everyone else on the road.

Drunk driving laws, known as operating while intoxicated (OWI) laws in Indiana, were put in place as a way to keep motorists and passengers safe. In fact, in 1939, Indiana became the first state to have a law setting a blood alcohol content (BAC) for drunk driving. Times have changed since then—the limit was 0.15%, much higher than today’s 0.08%, which was established in 2001—but that doesn’t change the fact that our state was a pioneer in road safety.

National Drunk Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost thirty people die in drunk driving crashes in the United States every day. In 2018, 10,511 fatalities and 29% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities were caused drunk driving accidents.

Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

What is buzzed driving? Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

People often think that they are fine to drive if they’re “buzzed” and “not really drunk.”

The problem is that buzzed driving, or driving with a BAC of anywhere between 0.01% and 0.07%, is still dangerous. Drivers who are even minimally buzzed are often responsible for fatal accidents.

In Indiana, like in all other states, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The difference in levels of intoxication or impairment only determines the extent of the criminal penalties you receive for breaking the law.

OWI Criminal Penalties in Indiana

Criminal penalties can vary based on a number of factors. BAC level, the age of the driver or passengers, and the number or type of any prior OWI convictions can all play a role in what penalties are given to a buzzed driver.

Here are some other hard rules to keep in mind:

  • Indiana and all other states have zero-tolerance laws. Anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 that has a BAC of 0.02% while on the road is considered impaired.
  • Commercial drivers are held to higher standards while they’re on the job. The BAC limit for these drivers is 0.04%.
  • All drivers have a limit of 0.08% to be considered impaired. Due to Indiana’s “per se” laws, no other evidence outside of the BAC reading is required to show that a driver is impaired. Even if the driver is “fine,” they can still be convicted of an OWI charge.
  • Implied consent is a part of Indiana’s OWI laws. While drivers have the option to refuse drug or alcohol tests, it opens them up to potentially getting their license revoked.

In some cases, a driver can have their license suspended or revoked. Jail time, fines, and community service can also be part of an OWI driver’s penalty.

How to Protect Yourself from Buzzed and Drunk Driving Accidents

It’s your responsibility to have a plan in place to make sure you don’t get behind the wheel while buzzed. Follow these tips to stay safe.

Get a Designated Driver

Instead of trying to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system, coordinate a ride with a designated driver. Other options include taking advantage of taxis or other rideshare services.

Wear Your Seat Belt

The best way to protect yourself from drunk drivers on the roadways is to wear your seat belt every time you ride in a motor vehicle.

Keep an Eye on Other Drivers

If you see another driver swerving, drifting, weaving, or otherwise driving erratically, safely pull over and contact law enforcement.

Contact an Automobile Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of an impaired driving accident, contact an Indianapolis auto accident attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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