One of the leading causes of vehicle collisions in Ohio is drunk driving. Sadly, about three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. As for fatal wrecks in the United States, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes.
Our office has prosecuted more civil claims involving multiple lane roads than single or double lanes. Nevertheless, there is no question that, proportionately, rural roads are the most dangerous of all. And of the claimants we’ve represented against drunk drivers, the most frequently recorded Blood Alcohol Content level has been .16. This coincides with the statistics set forth by the State of Ohio.
It is an irony of drunk driving that each year there are about 10,000 people killed in alcohol-related accidents. Yet the drunk drivers themselves often are the ones who have few or even no injuries.
As to non-fatal injuries, they take place every 2 minutes in the US. That’s a lot of destroyed lives resulting from the well-known hazard of mixing alcohol and motor vehicles.
It’s not surprising that the majority of drunk driving arrests are made at night. At a time when driving in the dark is difficult enough as it is, the impaired driver is especially dangerous.
Public Attitudes Have Substantially Changed
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980. The year 1987 was the year in which fatal wrecks, as the result of alcohol, reached their zenith. Now alcohol-related fatalities have decreased by nearly 50 percent since MADD began its influential public marketing campaign.
Further evidence of MADD’s positive influence is that in the early 1980s, over one-half of fatalities involved a blood alcohol concentration of well over 0.08. Now that figure is less than one third.
Programs such as the Impaired Driving Safety Program, Witness Justice and Remove Intoxicated Drivers USA also deserve to share in the credit.
Drunk Driving Claims and Lawsuits
It is not uncommon for settlements or awards involving impaired driving to be double or triple that of other claims. This includes operation of any vehicles which cause significant harm. Additionally, those driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs must be held accountable. Few wrongs cause more furor than lives disrupted or destroyed as the result of this variety of destructive behavior.
This includes holding accountable those who are liable for negligent entrustment. These claims target those who impermissibly allow someone to drive their car when the driver is under the influence.
Drunk Driving is Considered Aggravated Misconduct
Our legal system has created punitive damages, as a weapon, in order to more fairly compensate victims. This objective also is furthered as a means of punishing the hard-core intoxicated driver for their extreme misconduct. Since 2002, it has been illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in all 50 states.
Our office has represented many victims of drunk drivers. Ohio statistics bear out our experience that male drivers are almost twice as likely as female drivers to be at fault for a fatal car wreck resulting from intoxication. Further, the majority of our civil representations have involved alcohol involvement that took place at night. Government figures estimate that 3 to 5 times more fatal collisions take place at night than during the day.
Our society now acutely recognizes that it is our vital interest that this variety of misconduct be deterred. In the United States, drunk driving is the leading criminal cause of death.
As to the injured and the dead, 17,000 people are victims of drunk driving accidents every year. And one-third of those arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. That is a staggering figure, especially given all the alcohol treatment programs ordered by judges at sentencing.
More attention is now being turned to drugged driving. These, too, are completely preventable problems. A younger demographic is usually profiled in studies regarding impaired-driving collisions.