According to the United States Department of Transportation, every two hours, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes. The consequences and drinking and driving are immense: injuries, property damage, criminal charges, and deaths. Intoxicated driving can lead people to speed, swerve, and even fall asleep at the wheel. If you have been in an accident with someone who is intoxicated, it is important to follow certain steps to ensure that you are protected.
Drunk Driving Laws in Pennsylvania
According to state law, drivers are drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more (age 21 or over, non-commercial vehicles). If a driver’s blood alcohol level is .10 or higher, they are subject to a period of license suspension. If they have received three “DUIs” (driving under the influence), their driver’s license will be revoked for five years.
Penalties for first-time offenders that are generally impaired (blood alcohol level of .08 to less than .10) include six months probation, a $300 fine, attendance at alcohol highway safety school, and potentially 150 hours of community service. Second-time offenders are imprisoned for at least five days, fined between $300 and $2,500, attendance at alcohol highway safety school, and potentially 150 hours of community service. Third-time and subsequent offenders are imprisoned for at least ten days, fined between $500 and $5,000, compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements imposed by the judge, and potentially 150 hours of community service. Penalties are greater if a driver has a high rate of blood alcohol, or at least .10 and/or if it caused bodily injury, vehicle damage, or property damage. They are also higher for commercial vehicle and school bus drivers and minors.
If You Have Been In An Accident
Seek Medical Help
Ensure that you and anyone else involved in the accident is alright. Seek medical help if you suspect that anyone is injured. Ensure that all cars are out of the way of traffic, and hazard lights are on (if need be).
Report to Law Enforcement
It is crucial that you contact the police and obtain an accident report because that can assist you and your attorney in negotiations with insurance companies and a possible lawsuit.
Document: Take Photos and Record Information
Take photos of the accident scene, if possible. Record all relevant information about driver(s) involved, including names, driver’s license number, insurance company information, year, make, model of car, license plate number, etc.
Avoid Making Statements
Do not make any statements about fault and do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company.
Obtain Experienced Representation
Unlike other auto accidents, where your attorney has to prove negligence on the part of the other driver, a court will automatically find a drunk driver negligent and responsible for the injuries they have caused (also known as “negligence per se”), making your case easier to prove.
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident with a drunk driver, contact Solnick & Associates for a free consultation, and let us help you. We are highly experienced in bringing personal injury claims for victims of auto and bus accidents.