The Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle While Intoxicated

The Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle While Intoxicated

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Motorcycle riders have first-hand experience with the freedom of riding on the open road. They also understand that this freedom comes with a great deal of responsibility.

To exist peacefully with other road users, riders must exercise sound judgment behind the wheels.

Sadly, thousands of riders still operate their motorcycles while intoxicated, causing devastating accidents, injuries, and preventable deaths. In fact, drunk driving causes one out of three fatal motorcycle wrecks in the country.

This post will shed more light on intoxicated motorcycle wrecks. Read on to learn more about the dangers of riding a motorcycle while intoxicated.

Statistics on Intoxicated Motorcycle Riders

Motorcycles make up only three percent of registered vehicles in the U.S. Yet, bikers are at higher risk of accidents when on the road.

The 2019 statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reveal that:

  • Intoxicated riders accounted for 29% of all motorcycle fatalities.
  • Motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers compared to other motorists (27% for motorcycles, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light trucks, and 2% for large tractor-trailers).
  • 43% of motorcyclists who lost their lives in single-vehicle accidents were alcohol-impaired.
  • Alcohol-impaired motorcyclists were three times more likely to die in accidents at night than during the day
  • Motorcyclist fatalities were 29 times more than passenger car occupants, and riders are five times more likely to be injured.
  • 40% of motorcyclists aged between 40 and 44 killed in crashes were drunk.

The lesson from these statistics is clear- alcohol use and motorcycle riding don’t go hand in hand. Don’t take chances on your safety when driving a motorcycle.

What Does the Law Say About Drinking While Driving a Motorcycle?

U.S State laws prohibit motor vehicle operators, including a motorcycle, from driving under the influence of alcohol. All American states have a blood alcohol level (BAC) legal limit of below 0.08 grams per deciliter.

So, a motorist is presumed to operate under the influence if their BAC equals or exceeds 0.08. The limit is even stricter for commercial drivers– anyone in the motorcycle business should not exceed a 0.04 BAC. States impose a minimum of $500 in penalties for intoxicated people.

The Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle While Intoxicated

American states also impose the rule of implied consent. Under this rule, everyone with a driver’s license consents to provide law enforcement with a sample of breath, blood, or urine to check their BAC during a DUI stop.

Lastly, motorcyclists have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of all other road users. They can be legally held responsible for accident injuries and deaths caused by the failure to meet this requirement.

So, operating a motorcycle when intoxicated violates this standard of care under general state negligence law.

How Does Intoxication Increase Your Risk of an Accident?

Riders and other motorists are said to be legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08 and above. But even a lower BAC can affect a rider’s ability to operate safely.

A single drink is enough to slow a rider’s reaction time. The alcohol may also affect the rider’s reasoning, thinking abilities, and judgment.

These effects of alcohol ultimately reduce your ability to avoid risks that might cause an accident, such as using turn signals.

The Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle While Intoxicated

The impaired judgment makes some riders choose to ride faster or take chances. And while at it, they might be unable to make emergency maneuvers in time to avoid hazards such as another oncoming car.

Apart from this, is it possible to get intoxicated enough to fall asleep on a motorcycle? The answer is yes. Consuming beers and hard drinks can make you drowsy and sluggish on the wheels.

The drowsiness will further affect your attentiveness and reaction time. This, in turn, increases your chances of striking other vehicles.

Injuries That Commonly Result from Riders Who Are Impaired

Motorcycles don’t afford you the same level of protection you can get in a motor vehicle. So, any accident on a motorcycle often results in some injury, sometimes minor and other times fatal.

Some of the most common injuries resulting from intoxicated motorcycle wrecks are:

1. Head Injuries

The impact of an accident throws the head of the motorcyclist forward, and the sudden deceleration can cause the brain to jolt inside the skull. This can damage the brain and result in such injuries as concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

TBI is the worst you can sustain from a motorcycle accident. According to the NHTSA, riding without a helmet increases your risk of sustaining this life-changing injury by 50%.

2. Spinal Cord Injuries

A fall off a motorcycle during an accident can lead to extreme muscle spasms. These muscle spasms can cause ligament damage and joint instability in your neck and back region.

back injuries

The sudden stop during a crash can be so intense to tear the soft tissues and vertebra. That’s how people end up suffering from hemorrhage and ultimately paralysis.

Unfortunately, injuries to the spinal cord don’t heal quickly, and they can leave you with a permanent disability.

3. Broken Bones and Fractures

Motorcycle accidents often result in broken bones and fractures. When riders lose control of their motorbike or collide with another vehicle, they will likely sustain fractures.

Sometimes the fractures can be simple that heal with time. But other times, fractures can involve multiple broken bones that require reconstruction surgeries.

4. Internal Bleeding

Any damage to blood vessels can lead to internal bleeding. A motorcycle’s impact can damage internal organs, leading to internal bleeding.

Traumatic brain injury

Unfortunately, internal bleeding is not easily identifiable. Accident victims may go for hours or days before realizing they’ve suffered an injury.

It’s essential to check for symptoms diligently after an accident to increase your chances of recovery.

5. Road Rash

Road rash refers to abrasions and lacerations when the skin comes into contact with asphalt or any other hard surface during a crash. This injury often results when you slide on the pavement after being thrown off the motorbike.

Road rash may cause swelling and bruises around the affected area. And while it’s not fatal, it can lead to permanent scarring that calls for skin grafts.

6. Facial Injury

Approximately 25 percent of all injured motorcyclists suffer facial trauma. Most facial fissures and lacerations occur along the jawbone, but others suffer midface fissures.

Wearing a helmet can protect you from facial fractures, which also are an indicator of TBIs.

7. Burns

Sometimes an explosion or fire can occur during a motorcycle wreck. That leaves the motorcyclist at risk of severe burns.

Second, to fourth-degree burns require immediate medical attention. Victims of severe burns spend months healing and require reconstructive surgeries to heal.

Can I File an Accident Claim If I Was Under the Influence of Alcohol?

Exceeding the legal limit when operating a motorcycle doesn’t necessarily take away your right to pursue a claim for your damage.

Say, for instance, you were sitting at a red light when another motorist rear-ended you. In such a case, the fact that your BAC exceeded the legal limit would not be considered the cause of the accident. That means you can pursue a compensation claim against the motorist who caused the accident.

However, alcohol affects your judgment and motor skills. Intoxication can impair your judgment in an event where you could have taken appropriate action to avoid the accident.

The Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle While Intoxicated

That means a motorcyclist’s intoxication can create complex legal issues that are difficult to navigate when filing a claim. The defendant can present evidence that you were impaired at the time of the accident, which can bring the court to declare you comparatively negligent.

With comparative negligence, your fault percentage would lower the damages you can recover. If you were 50 percent liable and suffered $8,000 in damages, you will only recover $4,000.

Consult an Experienced Attorney Today!

Every motorist has a right to a safe roadway free of intoxicated drivers. If you or your loved one are victims of an accident caused by a drunk motorcyclist, you must speak with an experienced attorney.

At Legal Giant, we have a dedicated team that will do everything necessary to help you get the financial recovery you deserve. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

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