Drunk driving accidents are one of society’s most preventable crimes. Drunk driving accidents are very serious and courts across the country are very harsh towards drunk drivers that cause drunk driving accidents. In most states, if you’re found to be operating a vehicle under the influence and you cause personal injury or cause extensive damage to property, you can be charged with a felony!
HOW DO DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS OCCUR?
“Drunk driving” is a somewhat inaccurate term. You don’t have to be drunk to be convicted of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI). Everyone is deemed unable to operate a vehicle safely if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or above. Many people are not “drunk” at .08, but does that mean they can drive safely? No.
When your BAC is .08 or above, your judgment, muscle coordination, memory, concentration, comprehension, vision and other senses all become impaired; your reactions become delayed; and your balance becomes difficult. When this occurs, you can cause accidents. If you’re involved in a drunk driving accident – even a minor fender-bender – you will be subjected to very harsh penalties!
DEFENSES TO DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS
If you are involved in a drunk driving accident and are charged with drunk driving, especially a felony DUI, you should hire a DUI attorney IMMEDIATELY! There are defense strategies that can help keep you retain your license and hopefully keep you out jail or even prison.
You may not get out of being charged with DUI but you can still fight civil lawsuits against the other involved parties. Contributory and comparative negligence is probably the most used drunk driving accident defense used in civil cases to absolve the driver or mitigate the damages. Contributory negligence is when the other person’s actions somehow contributed to their injuries. Comparative negligence can reduce the amount of judgment based upon the percentage of fault of the other party. Instead of being found 100% responsible, you can maybe only be found 55% at fault and thus have to only pay 55% of the damages.
Another drunk driving accident defense is the premise of assumption of risk. This means that if the passenger had knowledge that you were under the influence it can be argued that he or she knowingly assumed the risk because he or she got into a car with a drunk driver.
It should be noted that these defenses are in civil cases where the injured party may seek damages against you. In many states, like California, these defenses are not available to fight criminal charges for drunk driving.
WHAT IF I AM DRUNK DRIVING BUT DO NOT CAUSE AN ACCIDENT?
In many states, such as California, the higher consequences of drunk driving accidents are only triggered if you “caused” the accident. You, however, will be charged with a DUI. For example, if you driving with .08 or higher BAC and you are stopped legally at a stoplight and then a person rear ends your vehicle through no fault of your own, then you will not be found liable for DUI causing an accident or causing injury because you did not “cause” it. Once the police come to the scene to take an accident report, you likely will be charged for DUI. Do not flee the scene prior to police arriving as you may turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony hit and run! The determination of whether you may be charged with a simple DUI as opposed to a drunk driving accident depends upon your state’s laws. It is imperative to consult with a drunk driving lawyer in these circumstances.