Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Contact Us for a Free Consultation 510.785.1444

Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

Daylight Savings and Drunk Driving Accidents

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Mar 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

Daylight savings comes twice a year, as we spring forward in March and fall back in November. The day following daylight savings is known for having a higher than usual rate of car accidents. In some cases, it may involve drivers losing an hour and not having enough time to sober up from the night before. 

If you were arrested after an impaired-driving accident in the East Bay, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. The penalties for a DUI accident can be more serious than just getting pulled over for drunk driving. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

Increase in Accidents Around Daylight Savings Clock Changes

According to a study by the University of Colorado, fatal car accidents increased by 6% during the workweek following the spring forward to daylight savings. The study published in Current Biology analyzed more than 732,000 car accidents over a 20-year period and found a 6% increase in fatal car accidents for the week following turning back the clocks, resulting in about 28 additional fatalities per year. 

The study found the increased bump in fatal accidents followed the change in date of springing forward. Prior to 2007, the spring back time change usually occurred on the first Sunday in April. In 2007, the Energy Policy Act moved the time change to the second Sunday in March. The accident statistics followed the 2 week time change, reflecting the association with daylight savings and not just the specific week in March. 

One theory for the increase in fatal accidents follows a loss of sleep. One hour less sleep may increase the number of drowsy drivers on the road. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, according to a study from AAA. Missing out on 1-2 hours of sleep doubles the risk of a crash and missing 2 to 3 hours of sleep increases the risk of a crash by 4 times. 

Alcohol Consumption and Daylight Savings Accidents

Another contributing factor to increased car accidents may involve alcohol. According to one study, the changes in alcohol consumption and sleep patterns increase on federal holidays, the day before the holidays (eves), and DST transitions. "Regarding DST transitions, the point prevalence of alcohol use increased by 9.5% [...] during the Fall Back DST transition."

If someone has been out drinking on Sunday night and needs to sober up before they go to work Monday morning, they need time to metabolize the alcohol. It can take a lot longer to physically (and mentally) recover from a lot of drinking, even after a night of sleep. Loss of one hour or more can mean the difference between driving to work with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.06% and 0.08%, which is enough for a per se DUI in California. 

It can take an hour or more to process one drink. According to a study by Bowling Green State University, "Alcohol leaves the body at an average rate of 0.015 g/100mL/hour, which is the same as reducing your BAC level by 0.015 per hour." This means that if you go to bed at 2:00 a.m. with a BAC of 0.20% and drive to work at 10 a.m. after a DST change in March, your BAC could still be over the limit at 0.095%.

Springing Forward and Falling Back

Most of us have to deal with an hour time change twice a year, on the second Sunday in March and again on the first Sunday in November. This year, the time change will take place on Sunday, March 12, 2023. 

Daylight saving time (DST) was first used in the United States in 1918. The unpopular law was repealed and reinstated by President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II to save fuel and electricity but ended after the war was over. In 1966, President Johnson standardized daylight savings. 

Some states, including Arizona and Hawaii, do not observe daylight savings. This can be even more confusing when, in Arizona, where the Navajo Nation observes daylight savings. Last year, a senate bill was passed that would do away with the twice-annual time change. 

Oakland Criminal Defense for DUI Accident Charges

It takes more than coffee to sober up after a night of drinking. If you get into a car accident on the Monday after daylight savings and were out drinking the night before, you could be facing an accident DUI. Injury DUIs are serious offenses and could be charged as a felony. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of California DUI defense experience and understands the consequences of a criminal record for drivers. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 38 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Serving The Bay Area

We strive to make the highest quality legal representation accessible and affordable.