Clearly, drinking alcohol and operating a motor vehicle do not mix well. Almost one-third of fatal car crashes are the result of a driver who was impaired and legally intoxicated. It is illegal to drive a car with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Half of all fatal auto crashes take place on weekends and are alcohol related. Statistics estimate that about three out of every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some point in their lives.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is not limited to just alcohol-impaired drivers, and includes those who are under the influence of drugs. A person may have a zero BAC but still be arrested and charged with DUI if he or she is under the influence of a drug. The drug may be one that is prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacist, or it may be an over-the-counter drug. Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle accidents involving fatalities.
In addition to recovering the “standard” damages (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage) when one has been injured by a drunk driver, it is possible to recover “punitive” damages from the impaired driver. Punitive damages are designed to punish drivers for their intentional or “conscious disregard” of the law and safety of others. When such an intoxicated person gets behind the steering wheel of a car without any regard for the safety of other motorists and causes an accident, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the intoxicated driver.
If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a car crash caused by a driver who was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact us for a free consultation to protect your rights.
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Omid E. Dayan & Eliot M. Houman