Is Buzzed Driving Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on April 27, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023

Man holding a glass of alcohol getting into a carSome people may get behind the wheel after a few drinks thinking they feel okay to drive. However, even buzzed driving can significantly increase the risk of causing a crash.

Below, we discuss why buzzed driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

If you were injured in a crash caused by a buzzed driver, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages. Call our New Jersey auto accident attorneys today to discuss your claim. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.

What is an Illegal Blood Alcohol Level in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, drivers are guilty of drunk driving if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or greater. However, there are some instances when driving with a BAC below the legal threshold may have legal consequences.

This is because the consumption of alcohol, even in small amounts, can dull a person’s senses, slow reaction time, hamper judgment and impair vision.

If a New Jersey driver consumes any alcohol and it impairs his or her driving in any way, that person might be convicted of drunk driving.

What Are the Penalties for Buzzed Driving?

There are varying degrees of consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol.

After the first offense, a driver may face a $250 to $400 fine with up to 30 days of prison time. His or her driver’s license may be forfeited until an ignition interlock system is installed in the vehicle for three months. The driver will also face an insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years.

The fines increase from $500 to $1,000 for a second offense with a minimum one-year driver’s license suspension and up to 90 days in prison.

For the third offense, drivers may have their license suspended for up to eight years, face at least $1,000 in fines and could spend up to 180 days in jail.

Every drunk driving offense also carries additional fees, including increased costs for motor vehicle registration fees and having to undergo, and pay for, traffic safety classes or alcohol rehabilitation programs.

What Effects do Buzzed Drivers Experience?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) breaks down the predictable effects aalcohol has on driving at different BAC levels:

  • At .02 there is a decline in visual functions and the ability to multi-task.
  • At .05 drivers experience a reduction in coordination, ability to track moving objects, respond to emergency driving situations and have difficulty steering.
  • At .08, which is the legal limit, drivers will have difficulty concentrating, suffer short-term memory loss, will be unable to determine speed, have reduced information processing capabilities and impaired perception.
  • At .10 drivers will be unable to maintain lane positions or brake appropriately
  • At .15 drivers will experience significant impairment of vehicle control, have extreme difficulty paying attention to driving and a serious reduction in visual and auditory information processing.

The effects of buzzed driving are different for each person, as each person may have a different alcohol tolerance. Usually, a person may be considered buzzed when he or she has a BAC of .02 to .05 percent.

Even with a decline in visual functions, the risk of getting into a car accident significantly increases. This is because your visual capacity is one of the most important aspects of driving. If a driver is having difficulty seeing, he or she may not be able to determine how far away an object is, so therefore, it becomes more difficult to avoid potential hazards on the road.

How Does Buzzed Driving Compare to Drunk Driving?

Compared to buzzed driving, drunk driving is obviously much worse. More than just the driver’s vision is impaired. His or her judgment, reaction time, motor skills and other motor skills used for driving may be negatively affected.

However, this does not mean buzzed driving is any less dangerous. The National Transportation Safety Board has even requested that states reduce the legal BAC limit from .08 to .05 because of the increased risk of getting into an accident.

According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, the relative risk of being killed in a car accident with a .05 to .79 (below the current legal limit) is still seven to 21 times higher than for drivers with 0.0 BAC.

Need Help After a Crash? Call Us Today

Victims of buzzed driving accidents have the legal right to pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Let our experienced attorneys help you through the legal process. We have the resources and legal knowledge to prove your case and recover maximum compensation.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation. There are also no fees while we work on your case.

No upfront fees. No risks. Call 800-518-0508

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

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