Statistics from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility indicate that annual drunk driving fatalities have decreased significantly during the last few decades. This is good news, but unfortunately, drunk drivers remain a huge risk on the open road. In 2014, nearly 10,000 Americans were killed in car accidents involving alcohol impairment. Even when victims survive, they face severe physical and mental trauma, as well as tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care and rehabilitation.
Common Drunk Driving Behaviors
Drunk drivers are far more likely than sober drivers to drive above or well below the marked speed limit. Intoxicated individuals may also engage in reckless driving or exhibit a wide array of other erratic behaviors that are relatively uncommon among sober drivers. These dangerous behaviors include:
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Failing to stop at lights or signs
- Incorrectly interpreting road signs
- Weaving or otherwise struggling to remain in the correct lane
Many intoxicated drivers exhibit signs of drowsiness or even fall asleep at the wheel. When this occurs, they may rest their foot on the pedal, lose control of the steering wheel, or swerve into other lanes. Already slow reaction times are further hampered by drug or alcohol-induced drowsiness, which often accompanies drivers with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels well under the 0.08 marker typically deemed necessary for a conviction.
Injuries Attributed to DUI
Those fortunate enough to live through DUI accidents often suffer serious injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Herniated discs
In addition to these physical ailments, victims may experience post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and numerous other mental health issues.
What is Considered Intoxicated?
The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) required for a DUI conviction varies somewhat based on the age of the driver, the state in which the driver operates the vehicle, and whether the driver has a commercial license. In most states, any driver above the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.08 or over is deemed intoxicated. Younger drivers often only need a BAC of 0.02 in order to be charged with driving under the influence.
DUI and Drugs
The vast majority of DUI cases involve alcohol, but other drugs are increasingly responsible for DUI accidents. The results of a 2010 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study indicated that 10 million drivers drove while under the influence of drugs the year prior. Although these drug-related incidents typically involve marijuana, driving under the influence of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and illegal prescription drugs is alarmingly common. More recently, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that nearly one in four drivers operated motorized vehicles while under the influence of drugs that could severely hamper their ability to remain safe on the road.
Determining Liability in DUI Accidents
Proving liability in cases involving drug or alcohol intoxication can be surprisingly difficult, especially if other factors were at play at the time of the collision. Because of the complications surrounding driver liability, it is often possible for individuals to receive DUI convictions and still manage to win civil lawsuits. In other cases, drivers may be able to escape both criminal charges and civil damages, particularly if no drug test or breathalyzer was used to determine the driver’s level of intoxication. Even if a driver is deemed intoxicated, it must be proven that the intoxication — and not other factors — was responsible for the accident. However, in a car accident involving negligence, a DUI or open liquor citation leaves the victim in a promising position for securing a favorable case outcome accompanied by compensatory damages.
DUI Accident Lawsuits
Statistics from the NHTSA indicate that the majority of fatalities in DUI accidents involve the driver who was drunk at the time of the collision. However, additional victims are also common. Passengers accompanying intoxicated drivers accounted for 15 percent of total DUI-related fatalities in 2015, while 12 percent of fatalities involved passengers in other vehicles, and an additional 8 percent involved pedestrians and cyclists.
Many passengers and pedestrians who escape death spend months or even years recovering from physical and emotional trauma. Often, these victims are able to secure compensation for their suffering.
DUI cases can be very complex, so if you hope to hold responsible parties accountable and secure the remuneration you deserve, it is imperative that you work with a knowledgeable attorney. Our firm has a successful track record handling DUI cases. Call us today or fill out a free evaluation form.