San Diego DUI Law Center

Distracted Driving vs Drunk Driving

Distracted driving is very similar to drunk driving. When you get behind the wheel of a car, you should be focused on the task at hand which is driving safely. However, you cannot do this if you are impaired or distracted. Every day in the United States an estimated 1,000 people are injured in a crash involving a distracted driver. Sadly, around nine people lose their lives each day because a driver became distracted. There are three types of distractions when driving. These are:

  • Cognitive – You let your mind wander as you’re driving.
  • Visual – You take your eyes off the road.
  • Physical – You take your hands off the wheel

Legal Implications of Distracted Driving

When you are driving, your attention needs to be on the road and maintaining control of your car. But, with today’s technology it is easier than ever to become distracted.
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If your cell phone rings, you’re inclined to answer it. Or, if you get a text do you feel an overwhelming urge to read that text and possibly respond while driving? Some people are always eating on the run. This, too, is a distraction. In fact, if you are involved in any other activity while driving, you are a distracted driver.
Texting remains the biggest distraction and if you text while you drive you are 23 percent more likely to be in a crash. According to the Department of Transportation, there were 3,477 deaths from texting in driving in 2015. Since distracted driving can result in the exact same devastation as drunk driving, common sense should tell you that there are legal implications. Many states have banned cell phone use while driving. State laws vary regarding cell phone use and distracted driving. If you cause an accident because you were distracted, you may face the following:

  • Fines and penalties
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Criminal charges which could result in a misdemeanor or felony
  • Jail time
  • Increased insurance premiums

When you are at fault in an accident, you are going to face the same consequences as those faced by a drunk driver. The legal implications will depend on the severity of the accident. If you caused a fender bender, you might be fined.
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However, if the accident caused serious injury or death, you can expect to face stiff consequences.

Distracted vs Drunk Driving Consequences 

Distracted driving and drunk driving are similar because they can have the same devastating results.

  • Both result in a significant number of crashes and deaths per year.
  • Drunk driving accidents happen between the hours of 12 am to 3 am while distracted driving most often takes place between the hours of 3 pm to 6 pm.
  • Accidents involving a drunk driver are more likely to take place on the weekend while distracted driving accidents most frequently occur on Thursday and Friday.
  • 20.7 percent of drunk driving accidents involve men who are between the ages of 26 and 29 while distracted driving is more common among young people who are between the ages of 16 and 24.
  • Men are four times more likely to be involved in an accident involving alcohol than women. However, women are more likely to text and drive than men.

The most common form of distracted driving is texting. Texting combines all three forms of distractions – cognitive, visual and physical – all at once just as with drunk driving.

The distraction can be worsened if the driver receives a troubling text or phone call causing them to become upset or angry. To put the danger of texting into context, consider this. Imagine driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. The thought might seem scary. But, this is exactly what you do if you are driving at 55 mph and send even the quickest text. Your eyes are off the road for about five seconds and that’s enough time to lead to a crash.

When you get behind the wheel, it is best to turn your phone off and stay focused on the road. With all the other distracted drivers out there, you have to pay attention to keep yourself safe.

Author Bio:

Michael Monheit, Esq is one of the founding lawyers of Monheit Law, P.C. where they are dedicated to the protection of individual rights. The firm specializes in birth injury, brain damage, Brachial plexus injuries, negligence and malpractice lawsuits.

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