Beginning tomorrow (Friday, August 16, 2013) and continuing through Labor Day there will be another coordinated law enforcement campaign where federal, state, and local law enforcement work together in a joint effort to combat drunk driving on the roads during a holiday period.
This crackdown is part of a growing federal battle against drunk driving car accidents. Drunk driving crashes, particularly during holiday periods, has reached epidemic proportions in this country. Many people are seriously injured and tragically, many people die in traffic accidents during holiday traffic on our highways, roadways, and streets. Explains National Traffic Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman:
“Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic. On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured.”
Move to Lower BAC Drunk Driving Definition From .08 to .05
In May 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board released its recommendations to all 50 states suggesting that state laws be changed in how “drunk driving” is defined. That effort is called the campagin for “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Impaired Driving,” (read the full report here) and it asks states to change their statutes so that “BAC” or blood alcohol content percentages needed for an arrest of someone as driving under the influence be lowered from the present .08 to .05.
The image below is part of the NTSB campaign pushing for this statutory change in Indiana, Illinois, and the rest of the country:
Drunk Driving Damages Mean Criminal Actions and Injury Claims
For those victims of a drunk driver who suffer personal injuries or even wrongful death as a result of a DUI crash, as well as property damages and other harm (like lost wages, long term care needs, etc.), the reality is that they will be involved in the criminal justice process of their state as the victim of the accident. Prosecutors will consider these accident victims to be the complainants in the criminal matter and they may be asked to testify as a witness in the criminal proceeding.
If that drunk driving victim wishes to assert claims for financial help resulting from the crash, the criminal court will not be able to provide that help. Instead, the DUI accident victim must file claims and lawsuits in the civil courts – asking for personal injury damages based upon civil tort law.
Damages may include medical expenses, money lost from being off work, long term expenses (like therapy, additional surgeries, etc.), and more. The law of the particular state (Illinois, Indiana, etc.) will apply. The evidence accumulated in the criminal case, like the blood tests that reveal the BAC percentages of the driver who caused the wreck, can be used in the civil case.
There are time deadlines for filing these claims and DUI accident victims need to assess their civil remedies as soon as they can.
Hopefully, campaigns like this month’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over will stop someone from being hurt or killed this Labor Day holiday. Be careful out there.