Drunk driving speaks for itself. To willingly choose to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol is a reckless and serious criminal offense. Along with speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol is particularly destructive and very dangerous.
Being convicted of a DUI charge will often carry punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages which are awarded on top of the normal damages for medical expenses and property loss. Punitive damages are intended to punish the offender and make an example of them.
If you were involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against them for damages. Our expert car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are available 24/7 to assist you with your case. We have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. Our legal team has recovered more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been recognized as a top personal injury law firm.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 32 people are killed every day in drunk driving car accidents. On average, that’s one person killed every 45 minutes. In total, 11,654 lives were lost per year due to alcohol related crashes in 2020. This is a 14 percent increase from 2019.
Another alarming statistic, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is that 28 percent of all traffic related deaths in the United States in 2016 were caused by alcohol impaired drivers.
There is no doubt that alcohol reduces overall brain function. However, there is a range in the severity of alcohol related effects which varies from person to person. Nonetheless, alcohol affects critical thinking, reasoning skills, and muscle coordination, which are all necessary for safely operating a vehicle.
Alcohol affects the body’s central nervous system, particularly as alcohol levels increase. The body absorbs alcohol directly through the stomach walls and the small intestine. It then enters the bloodstream and is immediately metabolized by the liver.
A person’s alcohol level can be measured by the weight of alcohol present in a specific volume of blood. This is known as Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC. It’s worth mentioning that the average person metabolizes alcohol at a rate of one drink per hour, yet this will vary depending on the individual.
Below is a table which illustrates the effects of alcohol by BAC:
Minor loss of judgment, relaxation, and slightly altered mood.
Reduced visual acuity and decline in ability to multitask.
Loss of small muscle control, impaired judgment, lowered alertness, and decrease in inhibition.
Coordination suffers along with a reduced ability to track moving objects, steer a wheel, and respond to emergency situations.
Poor balance and impairment of speech, vision, reaction times, and hearing. Poor judgment and loss of self-control are evident.
Concentration is affected. Short term memory loss, reduced capability to process information, and impaired perception.
Significant deterioration of reaction times, slurred speech, poor coordination, and much slower thinking.
Inability to maintain lane position and stop a vehicle as needed.
Loss of muscle control, vomiting, and major loss of balance.
Substantial reduction of vehicle control and attention to driving related tasks; visual and auditory information processing suffers.
There is clear and ample evidence that the risk of being involved in a car crash greatly increases at a BAC of .08 grams and higher. Remember, it’s illegal in all 50 States to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.
For obvious reasons, injuries suffered as a result of a drunk driver are generally more severe than in other car accidents. A driver under the influence of alcohol can easily lose control of their vehicle, resulting in head-on collisions, rollover accidents, and even collisions with innocent pedestrians.
Some of the more common injuries caused by drunk driving accidents are:
Consequences for Drunk Drivers
Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a serious and dangerous crime. Law enforcement comes down hard on drunk drivers, and tougher laws have been in place since the 1980s, yet many still choose to engage in this reckless behavior.
Charges for drunk driving will depend on the circumstances. They can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. Charges may include:
Fines alone can be extremely costly. A first-time offender can be ordered to pay over $10,000 in fines and legal fees, and that’s not including the social stigma attached to being found guilty of such reckless behavior.
Drunk driving is a serious crime. Some states have gone as far as to offer provisions for victims of drunk driving accidents to claim punitive damages, on top of the personal injury damages they may already be entitled to. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their reckless behavior, and are also meant to send a clear message to the community that drunk driving will not be tolerated.
Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to Find Out How We Can Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a drunk driver, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. Our skilled car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.