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Impaired driving definition broader than you think

Whether you drive or not, we think it's safe to say that everyone in Georgia understands that driving while impaired is a bad idea. Driver impairment of any kind elevates the risk of a vehicle collision happening.

If you are a victim of such an accident, you need to understand your legal rights. Wisdom is knowledge, and a lack of knowledge can result in a victim being short-changed in terms of the compensation and recovery due. Those who drive impaired and cause accident should expect efforts to hold them legally accountable for resulting suffering and damage.

Some forms of impairment are widely understood. It can take as little as a single beer to push some people over the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving drunk. Drugs and the illegal use of smartphones create hazards, too.

Many might not think to put drowsy driving in the category of impairment, but federal safety officials rank driver fatigue high on the list, as the Governors Highway Safety Association recently observed. The GHSA report estimates nearly 84 million Americans take to the road drowsy every day. It also estimates that fatigued driving contributed to crashes that killed 5,000 people last year.

Making matters worse, officials say, is that there's no protocol one can follow after an accident to determine if drowsy driving played a role. You can test breath, blood and urine for drugs and alcohol, but not for drowsiness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does have a list of warning signs that drowsy driving is happening, but that depends on drivers diagnosing themselves.

Drowsy drivers are no less culpable for collisions they cause than are other impaired drivers. Holding them accountable can be challenging, but the effort is more likely to be successful with an experienced attorney's help.

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