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Study: Connecticut has fifth highest rate of fatal DUI crashes in U.S.

Connecticut has one of the country’s highest DUI fatality rates, along with one of the lowest rates of reporting driver BAC test results.

Fatal drunk driving accidents have been on the decline in many states in recent years, and this trend has also been apparent in Connecticut. According to The New Haven Register, alcohol-related fatalities fell a significant 15 percent from 2013 to 2014. Sadly, despite this improvement, Connecticut still sees an alarmingly high rate of deadly crashes that involve impaired drivers. According to a recent analysis, the state had a greater rate of these crashes in 2014 than all but four other states.

Troubling findings from 2014

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that alcohol was a factor in 39 percent of all fatal car accidents that occurred in Connecticut in 2014. This figure is significantly higher than the national average rate of 31 percent. Troublingly, it is not far from the highest DUI fatality rate reported in any state during the same year, which was 41 percent.

These findings are especially worrisome given the potential for under-reporting of alcohol-related fatalities. As an example, authorities in Connecticut test the blood alcohol concentration of drivers who sustain fatal injuries during accidents. However, if a driver passes away hours or days after a crash, an autopsy might not reveal the presence of alcohol in his or her system. Delayed testing may similarly lead to under-reporting of impairment in crashes that drivers survive.

Low reporting rates

Recent investigations also indicate that Connecticut fails to keep up with other states in reporting the BAC test results of drivers who were involved in deadly crashes. According to The Hartford Courant, in 2013, the state reported results for just 27 percent of surviving drivers and 45 percent of deceased drivers. Only one other state reported a lower proportion of BAC test results for deceased drivers.

The New Haven Register notes that proper reporting of this information is important because it helps lawmakers and national safety groups assess the threat that drunk driving poses. The recommended reporting rate is at least 60 percent for tests of surviving drivers and 80 percent for tests of fatally injured drivers. Unfortunately, although drivers are frequently tested after crashes in Connecticut, the results are not always passed on to the appropriate authorities.

Future outlook for drivers

Encouragingly, between 2013 and 2014, Connecticut saw a greater decline in deadly drunk driving accidents than most states did. During the same time period, general traffic fatalities also decreased in Connecticut. Unfortunately, though, the recent analysis shows that local drivers still face a high risk of experiencing catastrophic accidents that involve intoxicated motorists.

In these situations, legal remedies may be available to accident victims or their surviving family members. A driver's decision to operate a vehicle while legally intoxicated or even mildly impaired may constitute negligence, and a negligent driver may be considered liable for injuries or deaths that result from his or her actions. To learn more about seeking recourse from a negligent driver, victims may want to consider discussing their situation and options with an attorney.