Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
A man was indicted in the death of his wife in a car accident. He had 36 previous suspensions of his driver’s license at the time of the crash, as well as more than a dozen charges of operating a motor vehicle while impaired. In this accident—while his license was suspended—he rounded a curve and struck a utility pole. His wife, who was in the passenger seat, was pronounced dead at the scene. The man’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was 0.185, which is more than double the legal limit.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 30 people die in the United States each day as a result of alcohol-related traffic accidents, and alcohol is a factor in approximately one-third of all traffic crashes.
In one recent year, 10,511 drunk driving fatalities took place across the nation, and thousands more people suffered serious injuries in these accidents.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
Alcohol reduces functions in the brain that are necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, including thinking, reasoning, reaction time, and coordination. The effects of alcohol can be felt after the first drink and get more pronounced as the drinker consumes more alcoholic drinks. The amount of alcohol a person has in their body is measured by the weight of alcohol in a volume of blood. This is called Blood Alcohol Concentration, or Blood Alcohol Content, and is often referred to by its abbreviation, BAC.
The legal limit for people over the age of 21 in most of the nation is 0.08 BAC. The following is a glimpse at the malfunctions suffered by most individuals at various levels of impairment:
- At 0.02 BAC, which is generally the BAC reached through the consumption of one drink, a person will experience some loss in judgment, and a decline in the ability to track a moving target and the ability to perform two tasks at once.
- At 0.05 BAC, which is about two to three drinks, a person begins experiencing exaggerated behavior, impaired judgment, difficulty focusing his or her eyes, lowered alertness, and release of inhibition. He or she will also suffer from reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and a reduction in the response required for emergency driving situations.
- 0.08 BAC, which is about four drinks, causes poor muscle coordination, such as that needed for balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing; difficulty detecting danger; and deficits in judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory. The person’s driving ability will be impacted through a deficit in concentration, short-term memory loss, the ability to control one’s speed, impaired perception, and a pronounced reduction in the ability to process information.
- 0.10 BAC, which is about five or more drinks, will produce a clear deterioration of reaction time and control as well as slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking. Drivers with this BAC will have problems maintaining lane position and braking.
- 0.15 BAC, which is about seven or more drinks, will cause an individual to experience a significant loss of muscle control, potential vomiting, and a major loss of balance. Drivers with this level of impairment will experience a substantial deterioration in their ability to control the vehicle, ability to focus on the task of driving, and necessary audio and visual processing.
This is a general guide based on the impairment levels of a 160 pound male. Alcohol will impair women and those who weigh less more quickly.
A driver with a BAC of 0.10 or higher is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash than a driver who has not consumed alcohol. One with a BAC of 0.15 or higher is 25 times more likely.
Drunk drivers cause harm to more than just themselves. Drunk driving produces an annual cost to society of around $44 billion. In one recent year, nearly one-fifth of all children aged 14 and under who were killed in traffic accidents were killed in drunk driving crashes. More than half of those crashes involved a drunk driver in the vehicle that the child was riding in.
Alcohol-impaired driving poses an even greater risk for teen drivers, who already have a higher rate of traffic crashes due simply to being inexperienced and lacking the developmental skills required for effectively scanning the roadway for hazards. As the ability to track moving objects is one of the functions of safe driving that is diminished by drunk driving, the hazard of having an accident due to ineffective scanning is even greater. Teens also are more prone to distractions such as having friends in the vehicle or texting while driving. Alcohol impairment produces difficulties with concentration, doubling the danger.
Examples of the Dangers
- A suspected drunk driver in an SUV struck an entire crew of road workers on a Virginia interstate. The accident happened just after midnight in a work zone. Six workers were treated for their injuries, some of which were critical. There were three occupants in the SUV, two of which tried to flee the scene after the accident. They were caught and the driver was arrested for DUI. The accident remained under investigation at the time a news report of the incident was published.
- A drunk driver hit two pedestrians, resulting in the death of one and critical injuries to the other. The two were in a crosswalk just after 1 a.m., as a light changed from red to green and the vehicle accelerated through the intersection, striking the two. Officers detected a strong odor of alcohol when interviewing the driver, who was arrested at the scene.
- The crash that killed country singer Kylie Rae Harris was a result of alcohol impairment and speed. Harris was found to have had a BAC of more than three times the legal limit and was traveling at speeds of over 100 miles per hour when the accident occurred. She caused a three-car crash in which she and another driver—a 16-year-old female—died. According to on-board computers in her car, she was traveling at 102 miles an hour when she hit one vehicle. The force of that collision forced her vehicle into oncoming traffic lanes, where she struck the teen driver’s vehicle going 95 miles an hour.
- A police officer was injured when a suspected drunk driver slammed into his car. The officer was on special assignment and parked on the side of the road when the drunk driver rear-ended his vehicle while traveling at about 40 miles per hour. The officer suffered a concussion in the accident and was transported to the hospital. The suspected drunk driver was arrested at the scene.
- A former police officer accepted a plea deal in his DUI case that resulted in an accident. The former officer was found to have a BAC of more than three times the legal limit when he drove the wrong way and ran head-on into a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old woman. The woman suffered a broken wrist and a fractured ankle in the crash. The officer suffered minor injuries. The officer pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle. The plea deal calls for the officer to receive a suspended five-year prison term, with three years probation. The deal also called for him to resign from the police department.
Portrait of a Drunk Driver
So, who is more likely to drink and drive? Is there a specific “type” of person who is more likely to take such a risk? Actually, yes. While there are drunk drivers in every demographic, the portrait of a drunk driver would likely look like this:
- The driver would be male. According to the NHTSA, men are more likely than women to be involved in fatal drunk driving crashes. In one recent year, 21 percent of male drivers were alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash, compared to 14 percent of female drivers.
- The driver would be young. People between the ages of 21 to 25 were more likely to be involved in drunk driving crashes than any other age group, followed by those aged 25 to 34.
- It’s not his first time. Statistics reveal that a person convicted of driving drunk has done it an average of 80 times before getting caught. About one quarter of all individuals convicted of drunk driving had been cited for other traffic offenses such as speeding, and about a quarter had previously had their license suspended or revoked.
- He is likely driving a motorcycle, a passenger car, or a light truck (this category includes pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans). In one recent year, 29 percent of drivers involved in fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents were riding a motorcycle, 21 percent of drivers were driving a passenger car, while 20 percent were driving a light truck.
- He is likely not wearing his seatbelt. Over half of the intoxicated drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes are unrestrained.
If You Were Injured in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver, You Want an Experienced Lawyer
Accidents involving substance-impaired drivers can cause permanent, life-altering injuries that result in a lifetime of expenses. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance transport, emergency department services, surgery, medication, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and home modifications that are necessary due to the severity of the injury and the mobility issues it created.
- Lost income from being too injured to work or being required to miss work for injury-related medical appointments. You might also recover expenses due to the loss of earning capacity if you are no longer able to perform the work that you did before the injury.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of repairing and replacing your car.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium—which is a spouse’s loss of physical intimacy and companionship due to the severity of your injuries, and emotional distress.
- In some cases, if the drunk driver’s behavior was particularly outrageous, you may also be able to claim punitive damages, which are designed to punish the drunk driver and discourage him or her from re-offending.
To obtain compensation through a personal injury claim, you must prove liability. Liability is established by showing that:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care. In a drunk driving case, the duty of care would be to obey traffic laws and not drive while alcohol impaired.
- There was a breach in this duty of care.
- The breach—which would be the driver operating his or her vehicle while drunk—caused the accident, which resulted in your injuries.
An experienced drunk driving accident lawyer can help you to establish a value to your case, which is the amount of money that you will ask for from the defendant or his or her insurance company. Your lawyer may also provide services that include:
- Examining the details of your accident to determine insurance resources available for compensation.
- Skilled negotiation to obtain the best settlement possible in your case.
- The timely filing of a personal injury lawsuit if a settlement is not forthcoming.
- The provision of evidence in your case that will help a jury or judge to understand the severity of your accident, relying on expert testimony from medical professionals and accident reconstruction experts if necessary.
- Representation of your case in court as well as continued representation if the judgment is appealed.
- Assistance in collecting your settlement award.
Call Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, Today if a Drunk Driver Injured You
Our compassionate and experienced attorneys are ready to help.