According to the CDC “Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.”
All 50 states in the US and Puerto Rico now apply two statutory offenses to driving under the influence of alcohol. Known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI), or Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired (DWI), or Operating (a vehicle) While Intoxicated/Impaired (OWI).
The terms gloss over the simple fact; drivers who should not be operating their vehicles, get into accidents and cause damage to property and people. If you can prove damages in an accident, and prove that the other driver was under the influence, you may claim your damages in a civil suit. Wrongful Death and Punitive Damages are also considered in DUI civil lawsuits.
If an officer has Reasonable Suspicion of DUI, they may demand Breathalyzer tests. Simply being in an accident raises the bar to Reasonable Suspicion. Currently, all states support “Per Se” laws involving DUI that find any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent to be intoxicated.
The BAC levels for Georgia;
“Per Se” BAC Limit 0.08 %
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02 %
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.15 %
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? YES
If you are involved in an accident caused by a drunk or otherwise impaired driver, and can prove it, then you may claim damages in a civil lawsuit. You may also pursue a wrongful death lawsuit if a family member was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver.
In your lawsuit, you will have to prove the other driver was intoxicated enough to not safely operate their vehicle. Blood tests, police reports, witness reports, audio, video, and expert opinions are considered evidence. The history of the defendant, Breathalyzer results, and roadside sobriety tests are considered circumstantial evidence. Though DUI cases are tried and won mainly on circumstantial evidence. Sobriety Tests can be ordered by the officer at the scene if they have “Probable Cause” based on behavior and indications like the “smell of alcohol.” With Probable Cause, an officer can demand a search, impound a vehicle, treat the area as a crime scene and make an arrest if circumstances warrant.
NOTE: If you are ever injured in an automobile crash, you should always report as a failure to do so may preclude your ability to seek reimbursement for damages caused.
DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, we urge you to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.