The Five Types of Driving Impairment

In the transportation world, planes crash, ships sink, and trains derail. Yet vehicle collisions are accidents. The “a”-word means that the wreck was unintentional, and that’s normally the case. Yet the word implies that the incident was unavoidable and inevitable. That’s almost never the case. 

Slowly, the linguistic landscape is changing. The Associated Press, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other groups have replaced “car accident” with “car crash” in most of their materials.

Crashes are definitely not accidental when one of the five types of driving impairment is involved. In these situations, a New York care accident attorney can usually obtain maximum compensation for both economic damages, such as medical bills and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.



Since the 1990s, law enforcement, legislative, and judicial authorities have tried many different things to reduce the number of alcohol-related vehicle collisions. Yet this substance still causes about a third of the fatal car crashes in New York.

Alcohol dulls the senses and gives people an unnatural sense of euphoria. This combination makes people who drink fun at parties but also makes them bad drivers. Unless motor skills and judgment ability are in top shape, it’s impossible to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Moreover, there is little or no margin for error. Typically, alcohol impairment begins with the first drink.

To establish negligence in these situations, victim/plaintiffs may use direct or circumstantial evidence. Drivers who are guilty of DUI may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. Circumstantial evidence of alcohol impairment includes erratic driving, the odor of alcohol, and bloodshot eyes.



Alcohol and drowsiness have a lot in common. Driving after 18 hours without sleep is like driving with a .05 BAC.

Fatigue and alcohol both dull the senses. Sleepy people cannot react as quickly when they are driving. Additionally, time is the only cure for intoxication, and there is also no quick fix for fatigue. Tricks, like drinking coffee and turning up the radio help drivers, feel more alert for a few minutes, but the effect is very short lived. Sleep is the only cure for fatigue.

To establish fatigue, victim/plaintiffs typically use circumstantial evidence, such as voluntary statements at the scene. The time of day (or night) may be relevant as well. Most people are naturally drowsy late at night and early in the morning, no matter how much rest they got the night before.



At any given moment, there are hundreds of distracted drivers on New York roads. Distracted driving includes the following:

  • Manual distraction (taking one’s hand off the wheel),
  • Visual distraction (taking one’s eyes off the road), or
  • Cognitive distraction (taking one’s mind off driving).

Hand-held cell phones combine all three forms of distracted driving. Hands-free cell phones are not much better. They are both visually and cognitively distracting. Other kinds of distracted driving include eating while driving and talking to passengers while driving.



Due to the wide availability of impairing drugs, many jurisdictions have more “drugged” drivers than “drunk” drivers. Impairing drugs include street drugs, like cocaine and LSD, prescription medication, like Oxycontin and Xanax, and some over-the-counter drugs, like Sudafed and NyQuil.

Victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to establish drug impairment. Such evidence includes droopy eyes, current prescriptions, and drugs in the vehicle.


Medical Condition

Millions of New Yorkers suffer from chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and epilepsy, which may cause a sudden and unexpected loss of consciousness. The state usually suspends drivers’ licenses in these situations. But these suspensions are only temporary. Additionally, a number of drivers ignore the suspensions and stubbornly continue to operate motor vehicles. Loss of consciousness behind the wheel usually leads to highly dangerous loss-of-control collisions. In these situations, there is no telling who will get hurt.


Count on a Dedicated NYC Attorney

Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. P.C. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.