Articles Posted in Drunk Driving

Uber has been operating in Charlotte, Asheville and several other major cities in North Carolina for several years now, asserting that their service helps lower the number of drunk drivers on the road. Some who use the service say it gives them a safe, affordable way to get home after a night of drinking. beer

However, regulators in California are now saying the company isn’t doing enough to make sure people who drive drunk aren’t on payroll. In fact, a $1.3 million fine has been proposed that would penalize the ride-share giant for not using due care in investigating or suspending drivers who are drunk. An order filed by the state public utilities commission, which regulates ridesharing services in that state, outlines how in 64 cases, drivers continued giving rides for at least an hour after a passenger reported the driver was drunk or impaired.

The state mandates all ridesharing companies adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers who operate vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The policy has to be posted online and in their apps, giving riders a way to report a driver and/ or make complaints. The companies must have a way to quickly suspend drivers to further investigate the claims after a complaint is filed.  Continue reading

A woman in Iowa who was injured in a drunk driving accident after an allegedly impaired driver crashed into a motorcycle on which she was a passenger is now suing the bar that served the drunk driver. bar sign

If you are unfamiliar, this type of case involves something called, “dram shop liability.” In essence, the idea is to hold purveyors of alcohol (i.e., restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.) liable when they negligently serve alcohol to patrons, who in turn get behind the wheel drunk and injure themselves or someone else. The term “dram” refers to a liquid measurement once used to serve alcohol.

Dram shop liability laws vary widely from state-to-state. Some states make it very difficult to bring such claims against an establishment, while others have rules that are more relaxed. In North Carolina, we fall somewhere in between. North Carolina General Statutes section 18B-121 limits claims against a permitted alcohol sales establishment only if that business negligently sold or furnished drinks to a minor under the age of 21. Even then, plaintiffs would need to show the consumption of the alcoholic beverage caused or contributed – in whole or in part – to the underage driver being impaired at the time of the injury and further that the injury was proximately caused by an under-aged driver’s negligent operation of the vehicle while so impaired.  Continue reading

A Florida man was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and numerous counts of DUI injury following a crash that killed a three-year-old boy and seriously injured severacar accidentl others.

Troopers with the state highway patrol reported the boy was in a truck driven by a 20-year-old woman. Also in that truck was another adult, plus a baby and four other children, ages one, three, four, and 10. The truck was traveling eastbound in the inside lane when a 38-year-old man in a passenger car tried to drive across that same road at the cross street. However, as he entered the intersection, he drove right into the family’s path, according to NBC-8. The front end of the car collided with the driver’s side of the family’s truck, causing it to spin and then flip.

A nearby food truck worker rushed over to help and began CPR on the three-year-old, but he could not be saved. Meanwhile, the driver of the car was arrested. He has previously been arrested for DUI and possession of cocaine and also for discharging a gun from a vehicle. He reportedly had his five-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter in the vehicle with him at the time of the crash.

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accident1-300x200There have been many tactics employed in an effort to reduce drunk driving, from awareness education in schools to tougher prison penalties. It seems almost everything has been tried. But now, law enforcement at a police department in Canada have come up with a unique and novel approach: Old Nickelback songs.

As reported by McClatchy news service, officials with the Kensington Police Department have said that this New Year’s Eve, newly-arrested drunk drivers are going to be made to listen on repeat to a widely disliked 15-year-old Nickelback album on their way to jail. Rolling Stone readers ranked Nickelback the second-worst band of the 1990s, just behind Creed.

Although the humorous approach is meant to raise awareness, authorities across the globe recognize drunk driving as a very serious issue indeed. New Year’s Eve especially is a night where police see a marked increase in drunk driving accidents and arrests.  In fact, the number of crashes in which alcohol and/or drugs is a factor increases by more than 70 percent from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 through 6 a.m. Jan. 1, as compared to an average weeknight. Continue reading

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has affirmed the judgments of two lower courts in finding a plaintiff who was seriously injured and lost his wife to a drunk driver could not obtain damages from either:

  • The police agency whose employee arrested the defendant the night before for drunk driving; or
  • The tow truck company that released the defendant’s vehicle to him that morning, some two hours before the fatal crash.motorcycle

According to court records in Weaver v. Stewart, the plaintiff and his wife were riding their motorcycles at around noon one day in June 2010 when they were struck by a vehicle that had driven the wrong way into oncoming traffic. The plaintiff was seriously injured. His wife died. It was later determined the driver of the wrong-way car was intoxicated, as evidenced by the fact he exhibited signs of impairment and failed a field sobriety test. Investigating officers found illegally obtained Xanax in his back seat. Toxicology reports indicated numerous drugs – including Xanax – were in his blood system at the time of the collision.

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Jurors in Illinois awarded $4 million to a drunk driving victim who happens to be the aunt of Olympic gymnastics star Shawn Johnson East. The Olympian testified for about 20 minutes of the trial in reference to how her aunt’s quality of life had been altered by the crash. That was a central issue in this case, which focused on damages, rather than fault or causation. Beer

The defendant drunk driver (who had already pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated) and his father (whose vehicle was being driven at the time of the crash) did not deny liability. They didn’t deny that the 25-year-old son had been drinking, got behind the wheel, and drove negligently, causing a crash in January 2005, which resulted in injuries to the 58-year-old plaintiff. However, what was in dispute was the extent of the plaintiff’s damages.

Damages are a central part of any injury lawsuit, and it’s a portion of the case in which it truly pays to have a skilled injury attorney.

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We all know drinking and driving is bad. But there is an erroneous assumption that if you can just “sleep it off,” you’ll wake up sober and ready to be a safe driver. drinkinggirl

But research has shown that driving with a “hangover” can actually be just as dangerous as driving drunk, with equal levels of fatigue and reduced reaction times. Beyond that, it’s fairly common for someone who drank heavily the night before to wake up still drunk. Both scenarios, it turns out, are quite hazardous to the driver and those with whom they share the road.

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the University of West of England in the United Kingdom put it to the test when they selected a group of participants to measure their skill levels after consuming an average of 10 drinks the night before. What they found was that despite the fact that there was technically no alcohol detected in participants’ bloodstreams, their driving ability mimicked that of someone with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05.

In another study, conducted by these same analysts, participants were asked to see how well they performed in a traffic simulator that simulated stop-and-go traffic. Here again, participants consumed an average of 10 drinks the night before. What they discovered was that drivers moved their vehicle at inconsistent speeds. They also experienced extremely delayed reaction times, which left them more likely to be involved in a rear-end collision.  Continue reading

Most people understand that if they are injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, they can file an injury lawsuit against that negligent driver. However, options for damages may not end there. In some cases, there may be grounds for a “dram shop” lawsuit, which seeks accountability from the person or establishment who served alcohol to the driver. beers

It won’t apply in every case. For example, North Carolina’s dram shop law, codified in N.C.G.S. 18B-121, only allows for liability when a vendor negligently serves alcohol to a minor who then causes an accident while under the influence of the alcohol served or sold.

South Carolina doesn’t have a dram shop statute, but case law does allow action to be taken against those who serve alcohol either to someone under 21 or to someone the server knew or should have known was already intoxicated.  Continue reading

A grieving father has filed a South Carolina dram shop lawsuit in which he accuses a bar in Columbia of over-serving a motorcyclist to the point where he became grossly intoxicated, and soon after got on his motorcycle and crashed it, resulting in the death of his passenger/ friend. The case was outlined in a recent article published by The Statebeerhand12

This type of lawsuit (here filed by the 19-year-old decedent’s father) is known as a “dram shop lawsuit.” These are lawsuits against bars, restaurants, taverns or other establishments that sell alcoholic drinks. Litigation is filed after patrons are served so much alcohol they become greatly impaired and subsequently cause harm to themselves or others – usually in the form of a drunk driving accident.

In South Carolina, there is no “dram shop law,” courts in the state have accepted dram shop claims that have resulted in legal precedent.

For example in the case of Jamison v. The Pantry, Inc., a 1990 case decided by the South Carolina Court of Appeals, a 19-year-old driver illegally purchased a case of beer from a local convenience store. Less than an hour later, that same 19-year-old was driving and collided with another vehicle, killing one and injuring several others. Officers determined the youth’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.135 – well over the legal limit even for over-21 adults. The court decided the injured passengers could file a claim against the convenience store on the basis that the accident was a reasonably foreseeable result of selling beer to an underage driver.  Continue reading

Drivers who cause harm to others by recklessly and irresponsibly getting behind the wheel intoxicated can be held liable for damages they inflict. But often, the damage they do is so extensive, the driver’s own insurance or assets will not be enough to fully compensate the victims. In these situations, injured parties can seek reprieve through dram shop laws.beerinapub

Technically, South Carolina doesn’t have an actual statute, but case law has allowed victims of drunk drivers to hold bars and other establishments liable when they negligently serve alcohol to patrons who are either underage or visibly intoxicated. In North Carolina, North Carolina General Statute section 18B-121 allows injured persons to hold vendors liable for service of alcohol if vendor serves a minor who becomes drunk and drives. Another statute, N.G.L. s.18B-305, makes it illegal to knowingly sell alcohol to an intoxicated person. This too may be grounds for legal action if that intoxicated person later gets into a car and hurts someone.

But what if the person hurt or killed is the drunk driver? Can a drunk driver or his estate sue a bar for negligent service of alcohol after that drunk driving accident? Continue reading

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