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Summer Danger: Drunk Driving

The summer brings an unexpected, increased risk for drivers on the road: drunk driving accidents. Alcohol-related car accidents are a common occurrence and can result in catastrophic injury or death. Law enforcement has tried to reduce drunk driving by setting up DUI checkpoints and patrolling the roads around holidays. While these efforts have led to a gradual decline in drunk driving deaths nationally, the summertime remains a particularly dangerous time to be on the road. Indeed, the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day have been called “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. When it comes to traffic accidents, July 4th is the deadliest day of the year for people of all agesOf the 6 deadliest days on the road, 5 fall between Memorial and Labor Day.

There are many reasons drunk driving accidents are more common in the summer. Summer holidays mean cookouts with family and friends, outdoor fun and games, road trips, and, often, alcohol. Warmer weather means people may drink in outdoor venues that have more lenient rules about serving alcohol. Individuals in the work force are more likely to have shorter Friday hours or three-day weekends. Longer days means people tend to stay out later in the evening. These factors lead to more drunk drivers on the road during the summer months.

According to the CDC, drunk drivers cause one in three traffic accidents in the US. In Oklahoma, the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities is even higher than the national average.  Between 2003 and 2012, 2,205 Oklahomans were killed in drunk driving accidents. In 2017 alone, there were more than 3,500 traffic accidents and 180 deaths caused by intoxicated drivers. In 82% of fatal drunk driving accidents, the drivers were male.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. Oklahoma law is clear that the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08. Oklahoma’s “zero tolerance” law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system at the time of an accident. Of the 332 Oklahoma drivers killed in car accidents in 2015, 25% had a BAC over the legal limit. There is no set standard for how many drinks it may take someone to reach a BAC of .08. There are multiple factors at play, including the individual’s weight, how quickly the drinks were consumed, and how regularly the individual drinks alcohol, among others. It is important to avoid driving if you feel impaired in any way and to stop friends and family from driving drunk.

Victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to sue the driver in civil court to win a monetary award, called damages. Damages can be recovered for medical bills that resulted from the accident, damage to a vehicle or other property, lost income, and for pain and suffering resulting from the accident. To recover damages in civil court, the injured victim must prove that the driver who caused the accident was negligent, that the driver’s negligence caused the accident, and that the accident cause damages. The driver does not have to be criminally charged or convicted for a victim to sue in civil court.

If you are the victim of a drunk driving incident this summer, contact Koller Trial Law for a free consultation.