Eagan, MN -- With the holiday party season in full swing and New Year's Eve approaching, a new poll by the legal Web site FindLaw.com finds that 20 percent of Americans say they have driven after drinking within the past year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 410 people will die in traffic accidents during the upcoming New Year's holiday period. In addition, fatal accidents during the New Year's holiday period are 40 percent more likely than non-holiday days to involve at least one alcohol-impaired driver.
One in five American adults admits to driving after drinking within the past year, according to the FindLaw.com survey. Most of those who said they had driven after drinking consumed one or two drinks prior to driving. Only three percent of those surveyed said they had driven within the past year after consuming three or more drinks. The survey interviewed 1,000 adults nationwide, with results accurate to plus or minus three percent.
The FindLaw.com survey found that driving after drinking tends not to be a one-time event. Half of the people who said they had driven after drinking within the past year did so three or more times.
Men were much more likely than women to say they have driven after drinking within the past year. Twenty-six percent of men said they had driven after drinking in the last year, compared with only 16 percent of women.
Two-thirds of those surveyed (67 percent) said they have never driven after drinking. Seventy-one percent of women said they have never driven after drinking, compared with 61 percent of men.
The FindLaw.com survey produced the following results among American adults:
- Have driven in the past year after three or more drinks 3%
- Have driven in the past year after one or two drinks 17%
- Have not driven after drinking in the past year 12%
- Have never driven after drinking 67%
While most Americans likely are aware of the personal dangers involved, drinking and driving laws vary widely from state to state, creating confusion about individuals' legal rights. Most states prohibit a person from driving a motor vehicle if the person has a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, usually either 0.10 or 0.08 percent. In addition, some states have created lesser offenses, such as "driving while impaired," defined as a blood alcohol level of 0.07 percent or higher. Other states have enacted enhanced penalties for blood alcohol readings of 0.20 percent or higher.
In addition, "dram shop" and "social host" cases are expanding liability for negligence to taverns, restaurants and individuals who furnish alcohol to intoxicated persons. Detailed information on laws regarding drinking and driving in all 50 states can be found at legal information Web sites, such as FindLaw.com. The site also features the largest online lawyer directory, with more than one million attorney listings, searchable by practice area and location. Users can find attorneys in their area experienced with their particular state's drinking and driving laws.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The national survey used a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, and was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.
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About FindLaw FindLaw is the leading provider of online legal information and solutions for the legal community, businesses and individuals. According to comScore Media Metrix, a leading independent Web usage reporting service, the FindLaw Internet portal is the highest-trafficked legal Web site with 3.7 million unique monthly users - three times more than its closest competitor. The site provides comprehensive, plain-English legal information to businesses and individuals. These resources include West Legal Directory174, the Internet's largest directory of lawyers and legal professionals. FindLaw also offers comprehensive information, resources and services for law practice and legal career development, including free case law, an online career center, breaking legal news, newsletters, message boards, service directories, continuing legal education and legal search tools. In addition, FindLaw provides access to tools and services that help connect legal professionals with potential clients. FindLaw is a business within The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).
About The Thomson Corporation The Thomson Corporation, with 2003 revenues from continuing operations of $7.44 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson has approximately 38,000 employees and provides services in approximately 130 countries. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).
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