Individuals in California may be aware that impaired driving is a major cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents. What they may not know, however, is that in 2012 over 10,000 individuals in the United States died in drunk driving accidents. This represents 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the nation. In fact, 30 people lose their lives each day in drunk driving accidents. Drunk driving doesn’t just affect adults. Of the over 1,000 traffic-related deaths of children age 14-years-old or younger in 2012, one-fifth involved a drunk driver. Impaired driving doesn’t just include the consumption of alcohol. Driving under the influence of drugs — both legal drugs such as cold medicine and illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana — can also cause a fatal auto accident.
The use of ignition interlock devices that stop a vehicle from being operated by a driver who has had too much to drink can reduce impaired driving arrests by 70 percent. Similarly, sobriety checkpoints are another measure used to combat drunk driving. It has been shown that these checkpoints can reduce drunk driving accidents by 9 percent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some other suggestions for combating drunk driving. First is the active enforcement of current drunk driving laws. This includes minimum drinking age laws, 0.08 percent blood alcohol content laws and zero tolerance laws for those underage. Another measure suggested is requiring drunk drivers to attend substance abuse treatment programs. Raising the tax on alcohol is another suggestion, as is revoking the license of those who drive drunk. Finally, promoting community action efforts is also suggested as a way to address drunk driving in our nation.
While there are criminal penalties for drunk driving, it is important to remember that in some instances a drunk driver can be held liable in civil court as well. If a person is killed in a drunk driving accident, their loved ones are left grieving and searching for answers. Their grief is only compounded by the stress of having to cope financially without the income their loved one provided. In addition, the victim’s survivors may have incurred costs for funeral expenses and pain and suffering. For all these reasons, the victim’s survivors may wish to pursue a wrongful death suit, as a way to seek compensation for their losses and hold the drunk driver accountable.
Source: cdc.gov, “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts,” Jan. 13, 2015