A drunk driver swerves into your lane one night, as you’re driving home from a friend’s house. You flash your lights and try to move to the side of the road, but they don’t slow down and they don’t stop. Their car slams into yours, now fully in your lane and even on the shoulder. You pass out during the crash and wake up during the ambulance ride to the hospital.
You find out pretty quickly that the other driver had too much to drink when the police come to take your statement. That driver did not even get hurt in the accident, but they got arrested.
What you can’t stop asking yourself, as you try to focus on healing in the hospital, is why it happened. How could someone who was drunk enough to drive on the wrong side of the road still think it was safe to drive? They made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel. They chose that. They caused the accident. Did they just not get it?
Impairment and understanding
That’s part of the issue. Researchers studied it and found that people who drank too much and wound up with significant intoxication really did not understand, while they were intoxicated, just how drunk they were. They had no real concept of their level of impairment.
That driver, up until the moment of impact, probably thought they could drive safely. To you and everyone else, it seems obvious that they couldn’t. When they woke up then sobered up the next day, it was probably obvious to them, as well. Drunk people often express a lot of remorse about the decisions they made while intoxicated.
Even so, they did not know at the time. They felt safe. They underestimated their impairment.
Part of the reason for this is that people look to their peers. They decide if they’re “too drunk” just by how they stack up against others. So, whether or not they think driving is safe may just depend on whom they’re drinking with.
“People judged how drunk they were in relation to their peer group,” experts explained. “If everyone around him was blackout drunk, an extremely inebriated person would consider himself relatively sober. But by the same token, a tipsy person with sober people was quite conscious of being loaded.”
The unfortunate path that led to the car crash may have started with that peer group, which consisted of people who got even more inebriated than the person who hit you.
Understanding why it happened after the fact may help you work through some of your questions. At the same time, make sure you know what rights you have in Colorado to financial compensation for your injuries.