Holding Drunk Drivers Responsible for Negligence

Prior to their weddings, most brides are caught up in the excitement and celebration of their upcoming nuptials as they finalize last-minute details and plan for their happily ever afters. However, a Joliet, Illinois, woman recently found herself bucking that trend: Sheila B. Kane, 30, was a mere three weeks from her wedding when she was confined to a hospital bed by a broken neck and a $200,000 bond on drunk driving charges.

Within two hours of consuming six tall glasses of vodka and water at a bar, Kane slammed her 2008 Mercury Sable into a median, rolling the car into a bicyclist. At the hospital, Kane was found to have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .2, more than twice the legal limit of .08. The bicyclist, Frederick Johnson, suffered bleeding on the brain and remains in critical condition requiring a ventilator.

Preventable Tragedy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults, such as Kane, who drank too much got behind the steering wheel more than 110 million times in the year 2010 alone. And each year, drunk drivers are involved in one third of all car crash deaths resulting in more than 10,000 fatalities each year. Though the statistics are staggering, the tragic facts indicate that most DUI accidents could have been prevented.

Though penalties can vary by state, drunk drivers often face both criminal and civil charges for their negligent actions and are subject to transportation department penalties. In addition to having a car impounded and a drivers license revoked, drunk drivers may be punished with court-ordered fines, jail time, community service and mandatory treatment.

Driver Accountability

If a drunk driver injures or kills another person, the driver may be sued for losses such as medical bills, property damage and lost wages. Moreover, the court may award injured victims or the families of deceased victims punitive damages to further punish the drunk driver for irresponsible choices and actions.

Injured parties may also have the right to pursue Dram Shop claims against third parties who knowingly provided alcohol to the intoxicated person prior to the accident. In states that do not have Dram Shop acts, victims may be awarded damages from third parties under Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) statutes.

To fully understand rights to compensation and legal options as well as hold negligent parties responsible for their actions, it is wise for an injured person or for a grieving family to contact an experienced personal injury attorney following a drunk driving accident.