Author: Christopher J. Toepp, Fredericksburg, VA, Personal Injury Attorney
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (“NCADD”) established Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 in an effort to reach out to the American public each April and provide information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery.  While most people are aware that drinking too much alcohol over time can lead to myriad adverse health effects such as liver and heart disease, consuming a significant amount of alcohol in a short period of time is directly linked to violence, alcohol poisoning and motor vehicle crashes.
New data published by the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) indicates that alcohol consumption played a role in nearly 1 out of every 10 deaths among United States adults between the ages of 20 and 64.  The CDC’s study also revealed that between the years 2006 and 2010, excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths in this country alone. These statistics are alarming.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”), more than half of Americans over the age of 12 report that they currently consume alcohol. That is approximately 176.6 million American drinkers. Of this population, an estimated 17 million people have an “alcohol use disorder” pursuant to the criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
 CDC researchers found that nearly 1 in 3 adults are excessive drinkers and most of them ‘binge drink,’ usually on multiple occasions.  Taken in conjunction with the SAMHSA data, the number of American adults who consume an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time and on a regular basis is staggering. Concurrently, the Department of Transportation data shows that there are over 200 million licensed drivers in America.  Therefore, and by definition, the population of American drivers contains an overwhelming number of ‘binge drinkers’ and individuals who meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders.
As a depressant, alcohol slows down the functions of the central nervous system, which delays normal brain function.  An intoxicated person is not able to process information as quickly and experiences impaired hand-eye coordination. Processing information quickly and maximizing psychomotor skills are imperative for safe operation of a motor vehicle. Accordingly, it stands to reason that the greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the more likely a person is to be involved in an accident.
 As personal injury attorneys at Allen and Allen, we see the tragic impact of motor vehicle collision involving impaired motorists on a daily basis. While the law provides a mechanism for those injured by intoxicated drivers to obtain full and fair financial recovery and, in certain circumstances, provides for the addition of punitive damages when someone is injured by an intoxicated driver, financial compensation alone is often inadequate to address the irreparable pain, suffering and loss sustained by victims of drunk drivers.
In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, the Allen Law Firm wants to remind everyone to avoid the dangers of drinking while driving. The statistics referenced in this article are a startling reminder that impaired driving on America’s roads and highways has reached epidemic proportions.
 For more information about alcoholism and Alcohol Awareness Month, you can visit NCADD’s website, available at: https://www.ncadd.org/about-ncadd/events-awards/alcohol-awareness-month
 The CDC’s study is available online at: https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/13_0293.htm .
 See “Substance Use Disorders” published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/substance-use .
 See “Driving While Impaired – alcohol and drugs” published by the NCADD, available at: https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/driving-while-impaired-alcohol-and-drugs