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Why do intoxicated people get behind the wheel?

The hazards of drunk driving are undeniable. We have all seen the news stories detailing deadly accidents in the middle of the night. Many of us know people who have gotten injured or even killed in these accidents. The statistics paint a glaring picture that no one can ignore.

And yet, every day of every year, people continue to drive while intoxicated. You see them leaving the bar, leaving parties and just leaving their homes. They know the risks. Many of them, when sober, would tell you that drunk driving is incredibly risky. They wouldn't condone it. And yet they do it. Why does this happen?

There are a lot of reasons, and the problem is very complex. Here are a few of the most common ones:

"It won't happen to me."

A lot of people operate as if drunk driving accidents are someone else's problem. That news story about the car drifting into the wrong lane and hitting a pickup? That's something that happens to someone else. They know how to drive safely, even after drinking. They won't get in an accident.

People don't always vocalize this. They just act it out. They may even pause behind the wheel, wondering if they should drive or not, and then decide to go because it's only a few blocks. Often, they'll be more concerned about getting pulled over than they are about getting into an accident. If they think they can avoid the police, that's all it takes.

"I don't care."

Depression, apathy and a downward emotional spiral can lead people to drive drunk. They know they could get into an accident but these mental issues make it so they just don't care. They don't think about the other people they could hurt in the accident. They only think about themselves.

"I can drive safely."

A lot of people, despite all of the evidence all around them, just think that they are safe drunk drivers. They honestly do not believe that it is dangerous. Some may even brag about their experience and how good at drunk driving they have gotten over the years.

Inexperience and the bravado of youth may play into this heavily. When millennials were asked if they could drink enough to have a BAC of more than 0.08 -- the legal limit -- and then drive safely, a full 10 percent of them said that they could.

That's not just talking about having a drink or two. They thought they could have multiple drinks, to the point that they were breaking the law, and still drive without incident.

Your rights

If you get into an accident with a drunk driver, make sure you know all of your legal options to seek financial compensation. This can help with lost wages, medical bills and more.

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