Several recent drunk driving accidents in Virginia have reminded residents that alcohol and driving are two things that should never be mixed together. However, as the weather grows more pleasant, the days get longer and Virginians head outdoors, there is often a predictable increase in the number of drunk driving accidents that mar the state’s roadways every year.

Earlier this spring, a woman who police say was driving drunk struck and killed a man on his bicycle. More recently in Danville, a drunk driving accident required a man to be airlifted to a hospital. According to some Virginia police officers, who have tried to make the public more aware of the dangers of drunk driving, alcohol has an array of different effects that can all have tragic consequences.

Having a bit of alcohol in one’s system and then getting behind the wheel can lead to a simple rear-end collision or a disastrous head-on collision. Alcohol is a depressant; thus, it tends to relax both the muscles as well as the central nervous system. As a result, a drunk driver is much less able to focus than a sober motorist.

The well-known physical effects, though, are not the only side effects of alcohol. There can be mental changes in a person as well, such as a normally placid person becoming highly excitable, or a typically shy person growing combative or taking unusual risks. All of these changes in demeanor can correspond with changes in the way one operates a motor vehicle, which does not bode well for other drivers, passengers and pedestrians on the road.

Sadly, the alcohol-related accidents that have occurred in Virginia earlier this year will not be the last. In order to have a safe summer, Virginians can be vigilant about having a designated driver and monitoring alcohol consumption at get-togethers and other events. In the event of a drunk driving accident, residents can further protect themselves by discussing the incident with an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney.

Source: WSET, “Drinking and driving could have severe consequences,” Katie Brooke, April 18, 2014