Drunk driving is, unfortunately, more common than many people realize. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 30 people die in drunk driving car accidents each day. In total, drunk driving accidents claim more than 10,000 lives a year, and that doesn’t even include the number of people who are injured in a drunk driving car crash. The personal injury attorneys at Florin|Roebig are here to help if you’ve been a victim of a drunk driving car accident. Read on to learn about how alcohol impacts your ability to drive, common injuries experienced by victims of drunk driving, and what to do if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.
Drunk Driving and DUI Statistics
The drunk driving statistics in the United States are harrowing. In 2010 alone, drunk driving deaths and related damages cost the country an estimated $44 billion. In 2018, 10,511 people died as a direct result of a crash caused by a drunk driver, and 29% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities were a result of drunk driving. Further reports conducted by the NHTSA say that in 2018, 3,133 people died in car accidents, 814 of which were caused by drunk driving.
The following are additional important statistics to consider related to drunk driving in the United States as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
- More than one million individuals were arrested for driving under the influence of either narcotics or alcohol in 2016.
- Nearly three in 10 drivers who caused fatal crashes in 2016 were between the ages of 25 and 34.
- In 2016, 25% of motorcyclists killed in fatal car accidents had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, with motorcyclists between ages 35 and 39 at the highest risk for driving drunk.
- Drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents are 4.5 times more likely to have received a previous DWI.
- In 2008, one of every seven drunk driving fatalities was caused by someone under the age of 21.
- The average drunk driver has driven while intoxicated more than 80 times before getting their first DUI.
- An average of two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving car accident in their lifetime.
- An estimated 800 people are injured every day in a drunk driving car accident.
- The rate of driving drunk is highest among people between the ages of 26 and 29.
These sobering statistics demonstrate just how prevalent drunk driving and accidents caused by drunk driving are.
Drunk Driving Laws in Florida
In the state of Florida, driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or above is an offense. The consequences for being convicted of a DUI vary depending on how many previous DUIs the individual has received.
The first DUI offense in Florida will require the defendant to pay a fine between $500 and $2,000. If the blood alcohol level is 0.15 or more or there is a minor in the vehicle at the time of arrest, the fine increases to between $2,000 and $4,000. First offenders will also be required to complete 50 hours of community service, no more than one year of probation, and potentially have to serve no more than six months in prison or attend a residential addiction treatment program.
If a second conviction occurs within five years of the first conviction, the defendant will be mandated to at least 10 days of imprisonment as well as fines. Third-time convictions that are received within 10 years of the previous conviction will require at least 30 days of imprisonment. Four or more convictions will require the convict to be imprisoned for no more than five years. All convictions require fines and the impoundment of the vehicle being driven at the time of arrest.
Being convicted of three or more DUIs within a 10 year period is considered a third-degree felony. And, anyone who causes serious bodily injury while driving intoxicated will also be found guilty of a third-degree felony.
Motorists who cause personal injury to another individual or property damage as a result of drinking and driving will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. For drunk driving accidents that result in the death of another person, criminal charges often are much harsher, and involve jail time.
Florida’s Dram Shop Law
Another law that’s important to be aware of in terms of driving while intoxicated is the Dram Shop Law. This law has been adopted by most states, including Florida. However, unlike most other states, Florida law does not hold establishments, social hosts, or vendors responsible for accidents that occur as a result of a person being over-served alcohol. The only instance in which the host or establishment would be held responsible is if the alcohol was sold or given to a person not of lawful drinking age or to an individual with a known addiction to alcohol beverages.
How Alcohol Impacts Your Ability to Drive
How much alcohol a person drinks will directly impact their ability to drive. The current legal limit in most states throughout the country is 0.08% or about four alcoholic drinks. However, impairment and a decreased ability to safely drive can happen before a person reaches the 0.08% threshold.
Here are the effects most people experience based on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels:
- BAC of 0.02%: Reaching this BAC level takes around two alcoholic beverages and can result in declined visual functions, declined ability to divide attention, an altered mood, and some loss of judgment.
- BAC of 0.05%: This BAC level takes around three alcoholic drinks to reach and results in reduced coordination, trouble with steering a motor vehicle, reduced response to emergency driving situations, impaired judgment, lowered alertness, and lowered inhibitions.
- BAC of 0.08%: This is the legal limit of alcohol intoxication while driving. Effects of this BAC level include short-term memory loss, reduced ability to process information, impaired perception, slowed speech, vision, and reaction times, and decreased ability to detect danger.
- BAC of 0.10%: This BAC level is reached after around five standard alcoholic drinks, and the effects include decreased ability to brake and maintain lane position, slurred speech, slowed thinking, poor coordination, and poor control.
- BAC of 0.15%: A BAC of 0.15% is typically reached after drinking around seven alcoholic beverages. This BAC level can cause substantial impairment and drastically reduce someone’s ability to drive a motor vehicle.
A standard drink in these instances refers to a drink that has 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol in it. Examples of standard drinks include 12-ounces of beer, 5-ounces of wine, or 1.5-ounces of spirits or liquor.
As you can see, while the legal BAC level is 0.08%, there is still clear impairment experienced at this level. Drinking and driving with a BAC level higher than 0.08% can significantly lower someone’s driving abilities.
Injuries Common in Drunk Driving Accidents
As with other types of car accidents, several factors will influence the injuries incurred in a drunk driving crash. How fast both cars were going, the types of vehicles involved in the accident, and whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts can all play a role in the damage done.
The following are examples of common injuries experienced as a result of a car accident caused by a drunk driver:
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain damage or injuries
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Fractures to the skull
If you’ve been injured in a car crash caused by a driver who’s intoxicated, you should get your injuries checked out immediately in your closest emergency room. Some accident injuries may not become evident until several hours after the car crash, so getting checked out as soon as possible following the accident is imperative to ensure you and anyone else involved in the accident is okay.
Seeking prompt medical attention following a drunk driving accident will also help protect your legal rights by allowing your injuries to be put on record.
What Damages Can Be Recovered After a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you or a family member were injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you might be wondering what kind of damages and compensation you’re entitled to recover. Compensation can vary widely depending on the nature of the situation, but common damages you may be eligible to recover include:
- Medical expenses and medical bill costs
- Property damage, such as damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering compensation
- Cost of living with a disability
- Emotional distress
- When applicable, wrongful death
Your personal injury lawyer can help you determine the exact compensation you may be eligible for.
Contact a Florida Drunk Driving Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver, call an experienced drunk driving accident attorney right away. Getting the compensation you need and deserve for your drunk driving accident case is possible, but it’s not always easy. That’s why you need a reputable DUI accident lawyer on your side. The sooner you obtain an attorney to protect your rights, the better your chances are at recovering compensation and reclaiming your life after a drunk driving accident. If you live in the state of Florida and have sustained serious injuries as a result of an accident due to another driver being under the influence of alcohol, call the law firm of Florin|Roebig for a free case evaluation today.