What Are Some Common Types of Accidents Caused By Drunk Drivers?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on February 23, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023

man having a drink while drivingAccording to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1,459 people died in an alcohol-related crash between 2009 and 2018 in New Jersey alone. Nationally, about 30 percent of all fatal traffic accidents involve an intoxicated driver.

When someone gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk, he or she is more likely to get into an accident. There are certain types of accidents that commonly involve drunk drivers, including head-on crashes or single-vehicle collisions.

Drunk drivers should be held financially accountable for their actions. If you were injured by a drunk driver or lost a loved one, call our New Jersey car accident attorneys today to discuss your claim. We offer a free and confidential consultation, and there are no upfront fees.

Below, we discuss how alcohol can impair a driver’s judgment and what accidents may occur because of impairment.

How Does Alcohol Impair Driving?

Alcohol impairs a person’s motor skills and mental capacity, which can significantly reduce the ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Some of the most important skills necessary to driving are impaired by alcohol, including the following:


Humans can make decisions by discerning information and comparing each possible outcome to reach a sensible conclusion.

Drivers must use their judgment to determine things like:

  • Proper following distance
  • Anticipating other drivers’ intentions
  • When the way is clear to make a left turn or change lanes
  • When to start slowing down if a light is red or approaching a stop sign

Alcohol severely affects the parts of the brain that control this ability. Therefore, it can seriously impair a driver’s judgment.


The most important sense drivers use is their vision. Alcohol impairs multiple aspects of a person’s vision, including the following:

  • Peripheral vision – Alcohol causes tunnel vision that can make it difficult for your pupils to dilate or constrict properly, which affects your eyes’ ability to adjust to harsh light or darkness.
  • Contrast perception – If you cannot perceive contrast in objects, your eyes may also have difficulty adjusting to brightness, which may cause temporary blindness.
  • Lack of lubrication in eyes – Dryness triggers short-term inflammation in the eyes that can result in double or blurred vision.
  • Depth perception – This is the ability to perceive how far or close an object is from you.

Color Distinction

Drivers receive a lot of visual instructions on the road from different colors. For example, a red light signaling to stop, yellow light to slow down and green light to go. Because of the effects alcohol has on color distinction, an intoxicated driver may not realize a traffic light is red until it is too late.

Reaction Time

A driver’s reaction time is also significantly diminished by alcohol intoxication. How quickly a person responds to obstructions could determine whether an accident occurs. A slower reaction could also make it difficult for a driver to hit the brakes if a light turns red faster than anticipated.

Types of Accidents Caused By Drunk Drivers

All sorts of accidents may occur because drivers are impaired by alcohol. However, there are some types of accidents that are more common than others, including the following:

Head-On Collisions

Drunk drivers may fall asleep behind the wheel and drift into oncoming traffic. They may also enter a one-way street in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic.

Some states have rolled out detection systems that have helped alert wrong-way drivers of their error with flashing red lights and audio alerts. However, if a driver is drunk enough, he or she may not realize the mistake made.

Rear-End Collisions

Since depth perception can be greatly affected by alcohol, rear-end collisions are very commonly caused by intoxicated drivers. Poor judgment can also play a part, as the drunk driver may be speeding when he or she rams into the back of another vehicle.

Single-Vehicle Collisions

Some people may get behind the wheel while buzzed, and a passenger may not realize the driver is too intoxicated to drive. Even a slight buzz can reduce a person’s ability to stay awake, in a designated lane or react appropriately if another vehicle cuts him or her off. This makes single-vehicle collisions very possible, and passengers injured in these crashes may be able to pursue compensation.

T-Bone Collisions

When a drunk driver attempts to make a turn, but miscalculates due to impaired judgment, a T-bone collision may occur.

Why Should Drivers Be More Concerned About Drunk Driving Collisions?

Whether a driver is sober or inebriated, any type of accident is dangerous. However, there are some factors about drunk driving collisions that drivers should also be concerned about.

First, the types of accidents that occur due to drunk driving often result in at least one fatality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities are due to a driver being under the influence of alcohol.

Additionally, drunk drivers are more likely to flee the scene of an accident. Hit-and-run drivers are caught more often when they cause serious injuries or death. However, crashes that result in less property damage may be more difficult to solve.

Lastly, the insurance company of the liable driver may try to deny coverage because driving under the influence of alcohol is a willful and unlawful act, so therefore they should not have to pay damages.

Injured By a Drunk Driver? Call Us Today

If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a drunk driver’s reckless actions, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages.

Our attorneys are prepared to help you throughout the entire legal process. If the insurance company tries to deny coverage, our lawyers are also prepared to help you fight back.

We offer a free consultation and there are no upfront fees.

Call (800) 518-0508 today.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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