Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is preventable.

Drivers can choose to drive sober, get plenty of rest and pay attention.

Impaired drivers risk killing and injuring themselves and their passengers. They also put everyone on the road in danger. The best defense against impaired drivers is wearing a seat belt.

Impairment is a diminished ability to drive, which can be caused by
Drinking and Driving, Drugged Driving, Distracted Driving, & Drowsy Driving.

The four “Ds” can be deadly. Statistics show a third of deaths being attributable to alcohol. Distracted driving fatalities increase annually. While researchers are studying the best ways to get identifiable and conclusive data on drugged and drowsy driving, both are responsible for thousands of lives lost each year on our nation’s roads. Scroll down to learn more, or click to skip ahead. 


Alcohol-related fatalities have fallen by 37% in the last three decades in Virginia.

However, the chance of being in an alcohol-related crash is one in six over the course of a lifetime.

These deaths cost residents of the Commonwealth $404 million per year.

In 2016, 33 percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related in Virginia; 243 of 2016’s 741 fatalities were alcohol-related.
28 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the U.S., or one every 51 minutes.
A DUI in Virginia is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $20,000.
All drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher are driving under the influence (DUI). Drivers under age 21 can be convicted of illegal consumption of alcohol with a BAC of .02 to less than .08.
First-time offenders lose their driver’s license for a year and have a mandatory ignition interlock device when they begin driving again. A three-year driver’s license suspension occurs after a second conviction, and 20 days in jail is required for a third conviction within five years.


Drunk driving is deadly, and so is driving after consuming a small amount of alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a .02% BAC results in a decline in visual function, an inability to multi-task and some loss of judgement.

At a .05% BAC, drivers experience reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency situations.


Driving after taking certain medications and all illegal drugs is risky and can cause traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

Drivers cannot judge their own level of impairment after smoking marijuana or taking other illegal drugs, so any amount of consumption puts them and others at risk.

Those who drive high on drugs could get a DUI.

Law enforcement officers across Virginia are trained to recognize drugged drivers. According to a recent roadside study by the National Highway Traffic Administration, one in four drivers on America’s roads tested positive for at least one drug that impacts safety

Drugged Driving Resources:

Prescription Medications and Driving

If drivers take over-the-counter medications and/or prescriptions, they must first learn how they could impact their driving ability. Drivers should:


Read all labeling.


Discuss  impacts on driving with your doctor


Never combine alcohol or  drugs with medicine


Ensure your physicians know everything you are taking


While a driver is distracted, he or she may not be able to react to a changing environment.

The driver loses precious seconds before recognizing the situation and must make an emergency maneuver.

The three basic types of distracted driving are mechanical, visual and cognitive. All types increase crash risk.

Visual: During visual distraction, drivers’ eyes are off the road, such as looking at a billboard or the dashboard.

Mechanical: A driver’s hand is off the wheel during mechanical distraction, such as eating or handling an object.

Cognitive: Cognitive distraction poses the highest risk because the driver’s mind is off driving. When a driver’s brain is overloaded by two cognitive tasks, such as driving and talking on the phone, drivers make the phone conversation the main task and driving becomes the secondary task, without recognizing it. Driving is severely impaired as a secondary task, and the impairment can last a long time.

Texting while driving continues to be one of the leading causative factors and is one of the most visible unsafe driving behaviors.

Texting while driving is illegal and a primary offense in Virginia. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for second or subsequent offenses.

Other top actions for distracted driving crashes in Virginia involve rubbernecking, talking with passengers, and adjusting the radio.

Young distracted drivers are even more susceptible.

Inexperience in handling or controlling a vehicle during an emergency combined with distracted driving puts them at greater risk of a crash.

More young people are involved in distracted driving crashes than any other age group. The main types of collisions were rear end crashes and running off the road into a fixed object. The top driver action was “eyes not on the road.”

Distracted Driving Resources


Not getting enough rest before driving can be as deadly as drunk, drugged, and distracted driving.

Constant yawning, head nodding, heavy eyelids, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, missing road signs or exits, unplanned lane changes, driving off the road, or hitting rumble strips are all signs of drowsy driving.

Driving while drowsy increases crash risk as drivers struggle to process complex information coming from different places at once. Drivers may make careless driving decisions, have trouble paying attention or fall asleep while driving.

Drowsy Driving Resources
National Sleep Foundation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention