Driving under the influence of alcohol is the cause of a significant portion of all car accidents. The accidents claim the lives of people and leave others maimed never to maintain their healthy lives again. Drunk drivers cause accidents since the level of distraction increases, and concentrating behind the wheel diminishes with each additional beer getting into their bloodstream. The experienced lawyers from Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm will help you when you incur personal injuries due to the negligence of a drunk driver in Las Vegas.
Proof of Negligence for a Drunk Driver
Drunk drivers face hefty charges when caught in car accidents for causing personal injuries to accident victims. The offense attracts charges as a negligence per se crime. The plaintiff must establish the following for the prosecution of the case to be valid:
- The intoxicated driver owed the plaintiff the duty of care
- The drunk driver flouted the safety regulation hence breaching the duty
- The breach of safety regulation led to injuries and damages on the part of their part
If the plaintiff can establish the elements above, then the drunk driver is liable to compensate them for financial, personal, and emotional losses suffered. The breach of duty mentioned is the choice of the drunk driver to drive while intoxicated aware that their driving ability was impaired.
Accidents are one the few instances drunk drivers cannot get away with while driving under the influence (DUI). After an accident, they must undergo a BAC test to establish intoxication. In other times such as the police stopping them at sobriety checkpoints or for reasonable suspicion circumstance, the drivers may get away with the per se DUI. But once it bears fruits through accidents, they are brought into books.
Besides this charge the drivers face the driving under the influence charge in either of its forms:
- Impaired DUI
- DUI per se
The law allows drivers aged 21 years and above to drink and drive. However, this level of intoxication should not exceed the tolerable level, which is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. Further, the driver should not be impaired even at the legal standards of intoxication such that they cannot reasonably and safely control the vehicle.
The DUI zero-tolerance prohibits even a slight intoxication of drivers below the age of 21 years. In some states, these underage drivers can face prosecution for having alcohol unless in some exceptional cases. These minor drivers face charges for underage DUI.
Drunk drivers are likely to cause accidents at night when driving between 2200 hours and 0600 hours. This period is the window between the closure of taverns and when people begin getting home from the night shifts and nighttime entertainment. Trends show that weekends and festival periods record the high number of drunk driving accidents. This tendency is the result of overdrinking and faking the capability to drive to one's destination. Most of these accidents happen just some little distance from restaurants and taverns.
Signs of a Drunk Driver
A drunk driver is easy to identify on the road, especially if the alcohol is getting the better of them. Knowing how to identify a drunk driver in the traffic or parking lot is essential for your safety and that of others. As you drive in the highway or walk along the road walkways be keen on the following signs of intoxicated drivers:
- Making wide turns when on sharp bends and more when turning left on T-junctions
- Having signs of intoxication. You may see the driver with a can of beer in the vehicle. Leaning close to windscreen due to either weakened muscles or due to intoxication also hints intoxicated look
- Weaving or driving in a zigzag pattern along the road because the driver has an erratic perception of the way and neither do the hands have a firm grip of the wheel
- Slow driving especially in a busy highway where the speed limits must be maintained above the driver's pace to avoid tailgating and rear-end collisions
- Driving on the wrong side of the road which is, of course, keeping left instead of right
- Issuing signals to other motorists without any reason. Suspect drunkenness when a driver gives turning hazards along a busy road, and there are no diversions
- Poor reacting to traffic signals such complying to speed limit long after and stopping way past the stop signs
- Making abrupt turns on the road
- Driving on the center of the road thus occupying a road section meant for other motorists
- Stopping erratically on the highway. When a driver makes several stops without a mechanical problem, then suspect drunkenness.
Impacts of Alcohol in the Body of a Drunk Driver
Driving requires the use of hands, feet, eyes, and in a unique sense, the ears. The brain further manages these. Alcohol impairs the mind, hence the driver cannot drive safely without endangering the lives of other motorists. The rapidly changing driving scenes in the road require making and executing quick decisions.
The following are the effects of alcohol in the body of a driver that can lead to car accidents:
- Alcohol increases the reaction time to an emergency in the traffic. It numbs the brain and other organs reflexes and hence slow reaction to the quick needs of driving.
- Intoxication decreases the visual ability of the driver due to the relaxation of the eye muscles. The visual perception is impaired, leading to blurred vision. High levels of intoxication lead to color imperceptions and reduced night vision.
- Intoxication reduces the ability of the driver to track the position of the vehicle about other motorists in the road. Vehicles and traffic signs may appear too far when they are close.
- Little or no concentration is assured when a driver drives while drunk. They tend to be drowsy due to the sedating effect of alcohol.
- Since the brain is intoxicated, there is a lack of coordination between eyes, hands, and legs.
- A drunk driver cannot make a rational decision to keep a distance to stop or when overtaking.
All these effects of alcohol lead to susceptibility to distraction and negligence, exposing the other motorists to the dangers of the exercise. The state of the mind of the drunk driver prompts the deliberate move to drive.
The Psychology of Drunk Driving
It is not a surprise that all the drunk drivers involved in an accident know about the risks of drunk driving. The information about the state government punishing the intoxicated offenders is always disseminated from the media houses all the time. Importantly it is taught in driving schools and further emphasized in the consent laws when the state department of motor vehicles issues the driving privileges. Students alike are taught these potential consequences in various stages of the school curriculum. So all are knowledgeable, and none can claim ignorance about them.
Despite all that information people still drink and drive and consequently get accidents on the roads. Studies show a weak correlation between having information about the dangers of DUI and making an affirmative decision to operate when faced with some circumstances safely.
Motivational psychology establishes that drunk drivers involved in car accidents at one point, before deciding to drive while drunk, have to choose to disregard the publicized consequences. They act carelessly, thinking that those consequences do not apply to them.
A factor known as the need for closure (NFC) applies to drivers who eventually get an accident for driving under intoxication. They find themselves in a dilemma in that they are drunk while they need to drive home, and yet the law prohibits operating a vehicle in their condition. Faced with that dilemma, they need to make a decision urgently and come up with a lasting solution.
The closure is reaching their destination or home. Thus drunk drivers with a potent closure at times, such as late-night after drinking or adhering to an appointment, downplay all the information they know about consequences and drive. The benefit of getting home masks the effects of potential accidents on the way.
The drunk drivers involved in car accidents are once law-abiding, but the tamed drinking habits get out of hands after some time. Most of them, at the time of accidents, serve a cruel alcohol use disorder from seemingly a social glass that went overboard over time. All this happens while they know the consequences of their uncontrolled drinking habits.
Gradual Desensitization of Drunk Drivers
In the initial days of disciplined drinking, the drunk drivers have the law to obey and the police to fear. After the repeated exposure to the fear of DUI laws and police gradually and safely, the fear disappears as the driver continues getting driving experience and getting used to police. This fading of fear happens as the brain gets used to no cause for alarm state. The rate at which this fear vanishes is similar to that of developing tolerance to legitimate intoxication levels and gradually trying more extra amounts.
The fear that used to paralyze the driver when approaching the DUI checkpoints while intoxicated in the recent past reduces drastically after some time. As you get used to police and drinking and driving, the fear calms down. If you are at this stage, you should mark it as the beginning of your driving mistake.
Having never experienced any adverse outcome in the past, such as an arrest or an accident, dulls the senses. The driver trains to lose the fear of something they should be afraid of can drink and drive out of habit. They end up getting an accident and suffering the effects discussed below.
Reasons Why Intoxicated Drivers Drive
Below are some of the reasons why drunk drivers potentially involved in car accidents feel compelled or cannot resist driving when intoxicated:
Alcohol gives a false sense of ability to the driver. They overestimate their ability to maintain a steady drive to their home. One explanation for this false confidence is because apart from the numbing of the reasoning, the alcohol absorption is still in progress into the bloodstream, and BAC continues to rise two hours after the last drink.
The driver does not fully realize that his/her vision cannot serve him/her on the road, and the coordination of the parts needed to operate a car is impaired. This inadequate conception of their capability leads to the accident.
Fear of Embarrassment
The drivers, too, have a social circle of friends and relatives whom they are accountable to at all times. After exceeding the driving limits, the drivers may fear to acknowledge to some people that they are intoxicated and mask their embarrassment by taking up the driving role.
Some of the people the drunk drivers may have fear are:
- The spouse and children for needing to prove to them that they drink responsibly
- The drinking friends that they have not exceeded their principled drinking limits
- The employer so that they may remain relevant for their job
The attempt to disown excess drunkenness only leads to increased odds of car accidents once the driver drives.
A False Sense of Safety
Once you have been driving for a long time while tipsy without getting arrested, you get used. The driver may feel like exceeding the drinking limits since between the bar, and their home has neither sobriety checkpoints nor police inspection. But while this may give them the confidence to drive while drunk, an accident is inevitable so long as the influence of beer causes impairment while driving.
Legal Scope of Action When You Spot a Drunk Driver
All the above signs of the intoxicated driver can easily land you into a car accident if you suspect them and fail to take care while using the road, whether you are pedestrian or a driver. Hence you have the responsibility of first ensuring your safety and that of the other drivers.
In case you suspect a driver in the traffic is drunk, take the following actions:
Master the Cars Description
You need to memorize several features of the car to help in your legal action against the driver. The essential details are the registration number, the color of the vehicle, and the name of the road section. If you can keep a safe distance, please do so while getting those details.
Keep a Safe Distance
The drunk driver could be tailgating or just in front of you. After taking note of the car's details, you need to keep a safe distance between you and the drunk driver. You can heighten your safety by taking an alternate route to avoid the reckless driver. In case the drunk driver is speeding, pull over the highway to give them the way or choose the next exit from that road lane. Stopping ensures you escape the seemingly brewing accident.
Never Raise a Finger to the Drunk Driver
While collecting details about the car and the drunken driver below are some of the things you should never do:
- Never try driving past a drunk driver
- Never indicate any sign of monitoring the drunk driver like pulling down your driver window
- Do not drive parallel to the drunk driver as they may suspect your moves
- Never get in front of the intoxicated driver and try stopping them
- Do not speak or yell at the drunk driver as it may distract them and lead to accidents
Although you may attempt to do the above in a good heart, the driver may take them personally and get personal while you aim at corporate safety. Doing any of them may enrage the drunk driver who may plan to tailgate you, follow you to your residence, harm you using a weapon, or ramming into your car. You do not have to invite all these physical altercations. Instead, you just need to call the police.
Inform the Police
After ensuring your safety, you have the duty of ensuring the safety of others. You should, therefore, call the police by dialing 911 an emergency call number. The presence of a drunk driver poses an accident risk to hundreds of motorists and warrants an emergency response from police. Emergency calls are allowed while driving in various states. However, it is always advisable to pull over and make the phone call. This way, you also escape a probable distraction, which can lead to an accident as you lose concentration on the phone call.
When you get through to the police, give them the description of the vehicle of the alleged intoxicated driver and its registration details. All the facts regarding why you thought the driver was drunk are important while reporting. You also ought to inform the police about the direction the vehicle was heading.
Life After a Drunk-driving Accident
Life can become tough after being involved in a drunk-driving car accident. Resuming a healthy life is not promised after an accident. The following are the possible effects once you get involved in a car accident:
Surviving mortality in a car accident is traumatizing. After surviving, the days of pain may be short or long, depending on the severity of the injury. Short-lived pain only applies to those suffering from minor bruises. Suffering injuries in critical body parts such as the spinal cord, head, neck, legs, and hands could result in permanent disability or endless pain. The driver never considers themselves lucky to have survived afterward.
The injuries may cripple the driver's normal function forever. Employment, eating, walking around, and enjoying company with friends becomes a thing of the past. These critical parts of the body take time to heal or never.
Financial problems soon follow after being involved in a car accident. Seeking compensation is the ideal option and a personal injury attorney will help you in this pursuit. Sometimes you may suffer injuries that exhaust your medical cover requiring you to foot the bills using your resources. Besides, your car needs repair, you may be pursuing education, family to fend, investments to run, and a job to keep. The accident at long last exploits your asset volume and leaves you miserable. All these expenses deserve compensation from the drunk driver responsible for the crash.
Accidents may result in detrimental effects that may require life-long treatment. You may suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) depression, or anxiety every time you are on the road. Aspects including sitting behind the wheel, the sight of car accidents, and reading similar incidents bring the atmosphere of your day of accidents afresh.
The flashbacks deny you peace. PTSD has other symptoms such as avoidance of places that remind them of the accidents, irritability, insomnia, emotional numbness, and difficulty concentrating. The costs of treating the aforementioned psychological effects ought to be compensated by the drunk driver. Your attorney will be instrumental in pushing for a compensation package that takes care of treatment costs.
Drunk driving accident victims face emotional disturbances which include:
- Grieving and anger especially if a close acquaintance had died or seriously injured in the accident
- The driver also feels isolated and avoid the once cherished social outings for feeling the guilty of personal injuries to other people socially imputed on driver
- Suffering a pang of recurrent guilt for many years
- Loss of appetite and loss of interests in things they once enjoyed
While emotional distress is not quantifiable a personal injury attorney is able to propose a compensation sum that should help you seek treatment. The accident’s impact on your emotional well-being may not be reversed. However, the compensation sought in the personal injury case would help in your post-accident life.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Getting compensated for the personal injuries incurred when a drunk driver causes personal injuries should be your priority after a car accident. Drunk drivers expose many other motorists to danger and should not get away with the crime. The Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has experienced lawyers ready to help you in your personal injury case in Las Vegas. Call today by dialing 702-996-1224 for any inquiries of your drunk driver accident case.