What factors increase the risks of alcohol intoxication for commercial motor vehicle drivers? Are these factors valid defenses against a DUI charge? Factors including age, weight, food and beverage consumption, the type of alcohol, as well as the use of prescription or over the counter medications can all enhance the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Regardless of the contributing factors involved, none are valid defenses in a commercial DUI accident.
Understanding Alcohol Absorption and the Factors that Influence Intoxication
Alcohol absorption is fastest when consumed on an empty stomach. The higher the alcohol content, the faster the rate of absorption. Similarly, if the alcohol is mixed with a carbonated beverage, the aeration speeds absorption. In a healthy individual, intoxication peaks at approximately one hour post-consumption. Similarly, a healthy individual is able to process approximately 100 ml of alcohol from the bloodstream per hour.
Consuming opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines, prescription stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications enhances the effects of these medications. These effects can seriously impair the individual's reaction time and reasoning abilities. It can also cause deadly interactions that can result in respiratory or circulatory system failure.
Gender and overall health can also impact the ability of the body to absorb alcohol. Women, and those with serious health conditions have fewer enzymes that limit their ability to process alcohol.
Fatigue is another factor that can enhance the effects of alcohol. Studies show that drowsy drivers have similar reaction and response times to drivers who are intoxicated. Drowsy drivers who drink even small amounts of alcohol multiply the level of their impairment.
The Size of the Problem
Data from the FBI gathered in 2016 showed that more than 1 million motorists were arrested for DUI that year. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 10,874 alcohol related fatalities which represented 29% of all motor vehicle fatalities that year. The NHTSA further estimates that approximately 1% of all commercial motor vehicle accidents involve alcohol consumption, and 2% involve the use of illegal drugs. Global studies conducted around the world from 2000 to 2013 showed that up to 91% of truck drivers admit to consuming alcohol on the job.
BAC Limit and Penalties in Kansas
The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is lower for commercial drivers than it is for other drivers. Operators of commercial vehicles are not allowed to exceed a BAC of .04%. Drivers who exceed this limit can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor on a first offense and can be sentenced for up to six months of imprisonment. Convicted drivers also lose their license for one year. A second offense can result in a Class A misdemeanor that will result in between 3-12 months of imprisonment and a lifetime loss of CDL privileges. Both crimes can also result in hefty fines and court costs.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
Brad Pistotnik Law is a Wichita law firm that represents people injured in commercial DUI accidents in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois. Our large truck accident attorneys represent clients in Kansas City, Garden City, Wichita, Overland Park, Goodland, Pratt, Great Bend, Salina, Satanta, Newton, McPherson, El Dorado, Augusta, Manhattan, Junction City, Abilene and elsewhere in these states. Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. In Western Kansas you can call 620-THE-BULL. Our office offers free legal consultations so that you understand your rights and options for recovering compensation following an accident involving an intoxicated commercial motor vehicle driver.