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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

Putting An End To DUI Deaths

Police Car With Lights On

ENDUI . . . No, it’s not pronounced on-dou-ee and it’s not a fancy French sausage. It’s pronounced end-dee-you-eye and it’s an app newly developed by the Maryland Highway Safety Office as one more weapon in the arsenal intended to save lives which could be taken by drunk drivers.

ENDUI is an app which can be downloaded free from the iTunes or Google Play stores. It works on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices. Its purpose is to help people evaluate whether they have had too much to drink to safely be behind the wheel.

Drunk driving accidents are preventable, and yet they account for a significant portion of traffic injuries and deaths – not to mention untold grief for families and a huge economic impact. In 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes – that’s one every 51 minutes — and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In this regard, regrettably, Maryland is no different than any other state. In fact, drunk driving fatalities represent about 32% of all traffic deaths in Maryland.

The most dangerous time of the year on our country’s highways is the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, so it was appropriate that the ENDUI app was launched at the end of October, in time for news releases to inform Marylanders that another tool is available to help them celebrate the holidays without endangering themselves or others. The Maryland Department of Transportation used federal funding designated for impaired driving prevention efforts, spending more than $50,000 to develop and market ENDUI.

Here are some of the features of the ENDUI app:

  • By entering data about your gender and weight, the types of alcoholic beverages you’ve consumed and the timeframe over which you do so, you can get an estimated blood-alcohol content reading. It is illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above, but reflexes and driving skills are impaired even at a much lower level (see below).
  • The app includes two skills tests designed to measure a person’s reaction time and response functions, to give you an idea of how your driving may be impaired even if you are not over the legal limit.
  • You can create a “designated driver list” of family members and friends who can be contacted quickly in the event that you have had too much to drink.
  • Using GPS technology, ENDUI helps you locate the nearest taxi service or public transportation options.
  • If you observe an impaired driver, you can report it to law enforcement with the push of a button.

The ENDUI app asks for data about the timeframe in which the alcoholic beverages have been consumed because alcohol is broken down by the liver at the average rate of one standard drink per hour — and nothing, including coffee, can speed this up. A “standard drink” contains about 0.6 ounces of alcohol. That’s how much you get from 12 ounces of beer or cooler, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits/liquor. It’s awfully easy to drink faster than the body can metabolize and to become an impaired driver long before reaching the legal limit.

General estimates from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and Clemson University provide these descriptions of how alcohol typically affects a person, although individual reactions sometimes vary widely:

  • BAC .02 percent to .04 percent
    You may feel mildly relaxed and maybe a little lightheaded. Your inhibitions are slightly loosened, and whatever mood you were in before you started drinking may be mildly intensified. As you reach .02, there will be some loss of judgment and a decline in visual functions and ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
  • BAC .05 percent to .07 percent
    You may feel warm and relaxed. If you’re the shy type when you’re sober, you would become more outgoing. Your behavior may become exaggerated, making you talk louder or faster or act bolder than usual. Emotions are intensified, so your good moods are better and your bad moods are worse. Psychomotor performance is significantly impaired; slower eye movements occur; visual perception, reaction time and information processing are adversely affected, resulting in reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced response to emergency driving situations.
  • BAC .08 percent to .09 percent
    You may believe you’re functioning better than you actually are. At this level, you may start to slur your speech. Your sense of balance is probably off, and your motor skills are starting to become impaired. Your ability to see and hear clearly is diminished. Your judgment is being affected, so it’s difficult for you to decide whether or not to continue drinking. Muscle coordination is poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), it is harder to detect danger. Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired, resulting in reduced concentration, short-term memory loss, loss of speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search) and impaired perception.
  • BAC .10 percent to .12 percent
    At this level you lack coordination and balance. Your motor skills are markedly impaired, as are your judgment and memory. You probably don’t remember how many drinks you’ve had. Emotions are exaggerated, and some people become loud, aggressive or belligerent. Drivers have difficulty maintaining lane position and braking appropriately.
  • BAC .14 percent to .17 percent
    Your euphoric feelings may give way to unpleasant feelings. You have difficulty talking, walking or even standing up. Your judgment and perception are severely impaired. You may become more aggressive, and are at increased risk of accidentally injuring yourself or others. This is the point when you may experience a blackout. At .15 there is substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

The average BAC among fatally injured drinking drivers is .16, according to NHTSA.

The relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times that of a zero-BAC driver and for male drivers the risk is 707 times that of a sober driver, according to estimates by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Do your part to ENDUI. And if you or your loved one is harmed over the holiday season by an irresponsible reveler, contact Steve Heisler, The Injury Lawyer, for legal assistance that could help you deal with the consequences it will have for you in the New Year.