New Hampshire Teen Driver Program

Impaired Driving

Impairment continues to be a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes. In recent years, almost 40% of all crashes in New Hampshire involved driver impairment. From 2009-2018, 354 people were killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in New Hampshire. Driving while impaired by any substance can be deadly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation impaired driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or substances.2

Often when we think of impairment, we think of alcohol. In recent years, the opioid crisis in New Hampshire has resulted in increasly higher numbers of impaired drivers.2 Impaired Driving can also occur when someone drives while under the influence of legally prescribed and/or over the counter medications.2 Additionally, as many states across the country legalize recreational marijuana, it is increasly easier to obtain and its effects are often misunderstood. It is important for teens to remember that if a driver’s mental state is altered by marijuana, they are driving impaired.3

Impaired driving can have serious consequences, including injury and death.24 Impaired driving is entirely preventable.4

  • About one in four teen car crashes involves an underage drinking driver.4
  • Every day about 800 people are injured in a drunk-driving crash.4
  • Every day in America, another 29 people die as a result of drunk-driving crashes. That’s one person every 50 minutes.4
  • Marijuana use is increasing, and 13% of weekend nighttime drivers have marijuana in their system.4
  • Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.4

The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in g/dL Typical Effects Predictable Effects on Driving
.02 Some loss of judgment; relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)
.05 Exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibition Reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations
.08 Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger; judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception
.10 Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
.15 Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balance Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing
Chart Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Below is a social change PSA created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stressing the fact that “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different” and noting the fact that driving under the influence of marijuana is grounds for arrest and a DUI charge.

download full pdf

According to the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD):
  • Alcohol-related fatality rates are nearly twice as high for 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds as for those over age 21.5
  • Young drivers are less likely than adults are to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risks are substantially higher when they do.5
  • This risk is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations and is thought to result from teens’ relative inexperience as new drivers.5

Responsible Behavior

Being a responsible driver is simple. It is illegal for teens to consume alcohol or use substances, but if you find yourself in a situation here are some tips:

  • Plan your safe ride home, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver. 6
  • If someone you know has been drinking or using substances, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home.6
  • If you drink or us substances, do not drive for any reason. Call a sober friend, family member, taxi, or uber.6
  • Always wear your seat belt- it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.6

If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

1 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sobering Facts: Alcohol-Impaired Driving.
2 U.S. Department of Transportation. Impaired Driving Laws, Enforcement and Prevention.
3 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug-Impaired Driving in the United States.
4 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Impaired Driving: Talk with your kids
5 Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
6 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Drunk Driving

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