IMPAIRED DRIVING STATISTICS
9,967 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2014. In 2012, 29.1 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol—that is more than the population of Texas. The average drunk driver has driven impaired 80 times before his or her first arrest. In fatal accidents that happened in 2012, 23% of passenger car drivers had blood alcohol content over the legal limit; 22% of light truck drivers were over the limit; and 27% of motorcycle drivers were.
In addition to drunk-driving injuries, about 4,000 drivers with drugs in their system are killed each year —and that does not include drivers who had drugs in their system but were not tested. In 2013, 9.9 million people (3.8% of the population) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. Impaired drivers are a real and growing problem.
VICTIMS CAN RECEIVE COMPENSATION FROM IMPAIRED DRIVERS
Georgia law provides for criminal penalties for drivers who drive while impaired, but those penalties do nothing to directly help the person injured by the impaired drivers. Under Georgia civil law, juries may be told about any and all times when an impaired driver drove while impaired. Further, impaired drivers make a conscious decision to drive even though impaired, and accordingly, punitive damages should be levied against impaired drivers. Punitive damages are a sum of of money the is required to pay in order to punish and deter the driver and deter the community as a whole from driving while impaired. A jury will decide how much money is appropriate.
IMPAIRED DRIVERS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES TO BLAME
Drunk drivers are not the only parties who may be held responsible for injuries suffered by others—dram shops, social hosts, and vehicle owners may bear fault as well:
Dram shop: a bar, restaurant, or other business may be liable when they provided alcohol to a person who is “noticeably intoxicated” or to a minor who then drives impaired and hurts someone.
Social host: like dram shops, individuals and groups may be held liable for serving someone who is already intoxicated or a minor, which then leads to a crash involving injuries.
Vehicle owners: an vehicle owner who allows a person who they knew or should have known was impaired may be liable for injuries and damages caused by the impaired driver.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR CASE
To succeed in a case against a dram shop, social host, or vehicle owner, the plaintiff must show the driver showed signs of intoxication and the host knew the driver would operate a vehicle soon. While it is sometimes relatively easy to show the driver was intoxicated based on blood-alcohol content, it is often difficult to prove the host’s knowledge of the driver’s intoxication. Questions your lawyer should answer through investigation include:
- Where was the impaired driver before he got into his car?—example: was the impaired driver at a bar, friend’s house, or social club?
- How well did the host know the driver and his habits?—example: did the bartender know the customer always drove home after drinking?
- Did the host know the driver drove himself?—example: did the bartender or any bouncers see the driver park his vehicle then walk in?
- Did any witnesses see or hear anything that could be important?—example: did a witness hear the customer and bartender talk about how the customer should take back-roads to avoid police?
Mike Rafi prides himself on conducting thorough investigations. Mike will learn everything that could possibly help you succeed against an impaired driver or someone who over-served or allowed an impaired person drive. If you have been injured by an impaired driver, call Mike and let him start investigating your case now.