Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving: Which Is Worse?

Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving: Which Is Worse?

Posted By Salvador Law Group || May 9, 2019

Say you’re stopped at a red light light and pull out your phone to check for notifications. You have a news update and see that an individual in your city was arrested for a DUI the previous night.

You can’t believe that someone would risk their own lives and those of others by getting behind the wheel after drinking. You put your phone down and simultaneously hit your accelerator, as those two usually go hand in hand if you look at your phone while driving. A moment later, you hit the brakes, realizing that you almost just ran a red light and onto oncoming traffic.

You may have been in this situation, or previously thought that you were a safer driver than someone drinking and driving. But how safe is distracted driving compared to drunk driving?

How Drivers Are Affected

As many of us know, alcohol will affect a driver much more differently than texting, but surprisingly, the effects of being distracted can actually be equally as bad as that of drinking. Since your eyes are not on the road while texting, as opposed to being mentally impaired while driving drunk, driving while distracted can essentially like driving with your eyes closed. This can add a whopping 70 feet to the reaction time of a distracted driver.

The main reason for this is how each of these situations affects the driver. Depending on their BAC (blood alcohol content) level, a drunk driver may still able to keep their eyes on the road but loses the ability to accurately recognize danger, identify turn signals or traffic lights, and even the ability to remain in a single lane as their BAC increases. A driver with a low BAC may even, in some instances, drive seemingly normal.

A distracted driver can lose focus on driving many different ways. They can lose focus visually, such as looking over at an onboard navigation system or answering a text. They can lose focus manually, such as taking their hand off the wheel to grab a bite to eat or drink or a CD on the floor. Lastly, they can lose focus cognitively, taking their mind off of the act of driving, losing focus on what is going on around them. Texting while driving, one of the most common forms of distraction, engages all three of these at once.

Legal Differences

Arizona has a no-tolerance policy against drunk driving. If you have been convicted of drunk driving you should immediately contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney or DUI defense attorney to help with your case.

Drunk driving usually comes with a hefty fine of at least $250 and or 90-360 days of your license being suspended for a first offense. It also requires the addition of an Ignition Interlock Device to be installed in your car to prevent you from driving while intoxicated in the future. These ramifications only get heftier for repeat offenses, as well as a minimum of 24 hours of jail time.

When it comes to distracted driving, however, the laws vary from state to state, with some states having no legislation in place for distracted driving at all. Arizona recently implemented a “no texting and driving” law that will go into affect in 2021. It is generally frowned upon in other forms of distracted driving and there are urges for drivers to not drive while distracted.

These ramifications and consequences all assume that there were no injuries or deaths involved in the accident, or that there was no accident and the driver was pulled over for drunk or distracted driving by a patrol officer before they were able to cause any harm to another person.

In the case of an accident involving the injury or death of another individual, be it a passenger in the driver's car or someone in the other vehicle, or a pedestrian, drunk or distracted driving charges and fines are the least of your worries.

Why You Need an Attorney

Once personal injury or death caused due to an accident case where drunk driving or distracted driving is suspected, other criminal charges can be added to the drunk driving or distracted driving charges. If this is the case, be sure to retain an Arizona criminal defense attorney immediately.

Depending on the severity of the accident as well as the prosecution's stance on the case, charges of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault may be added on to the other charges, each of which come with hefty sentencing and jail time. While distracted driving may less legal ramifications than drunk driving, the actual dangers involved with distracted driving can be just as great.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are involved in a drunk driving or distracted driving accident, whether you were the distracted driver or the other driver was the one drinking or distracted, retain an Arizona criminal defense attorney defend your case.

Contact Salvador Law Group at (602) 842-6222 for aggressive representation who can defend your rights.

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