Drunk driving continues to be one of the biggest dangers on the road, resulting in a fatal accident somewhere in the U.S. every hour. Even as police step up sobriety checkpoints and crack down on impaired motorists, the problem continues to cost billions every year and affect thousands of lives. In 2012 alone, more than 10,000 people were killed in accidents caused by alcohol use and represent about 30 percent of all traffic deaths that year. The victims are often young children, the ones who cannot defend themselves. In all, using alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car is extremely irresponsible and is grounds for litigation if the impaired motorist hurts anyone or causes damage or death.

WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO BE IN A DRUNK DRIVING INCIDENT?

In general, the younger the motorist, the more likely they are to be involved in a crash if they use alcohol. This also holds true at every level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This means that younger motorists are more susceptible to serious accidents when they use any amount of alcohol before operating a vehicle.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracked all fatal accidents that involved a driver with a BAC higher than .08 percent, the legal limit in almost all areas of the country. After reviewing the statistics, the CDC found that motorists between 21 and 24 years were most likely to be in a crash, accounting for nearly a third of all crashes (32 percent). Motorists between the ages of 25 and 34 (27 percent of all fatal incidents) and 35 to 44 (24 percent of fatal events) were also accounted for. This shows that younger drivers often have trouble making responsible decisions regarding drunk driving, and that more prevention efforts should focus on young adults.

WHAT CAN A VICTIM DO IF AN IMPAIRED MOTORIST HURTS THEM?

Every time a person operates their vehicle, they are held to a duty of care that protects other motorists and pedestrians on or around the road. This duty of care includes operating the vehicle at safe speeds, maintaining control of the vehicle, and observing all traffic laws and signs. When a motorist uses alcohol before operating their vehicle, they make it nearly impossible to fulfill this duty. Impaired motorists often change speeds without warning, randomly change lanes, run red lights, and blow through stop signs. This makes them liable for any harm they cause.

Anyone who has been hurt by an impaired motorist will have a strong civil case against the defendant. In fact, most drunk driving cases never make it to court and are instead handled during the settlement process. A personal injury attorney can help a victim attain the highest settlement possible, which may be needed to pay for medical bills, lost time from work, or, tragically, funeral arrangements for the victim.