Substance Impaired Driving

How Substance-Impaired Driving Affects Car Accident Cases and Liability

There are many factors that contribute to car accidents in Alabama, and unfortunately, substance impairment has become far more common with each passing year. Whether a driver is impaired by illegal drugs, controlled prescription medications, or alcohol, there’s a very real risk that they’ll cause a serious accident. When that happens, it’s often the occupants of the other vehicle that suffer the worst outcomes.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash caused by an impaired driver, it’s important to understand how this may affect your injury claim. To discuss your case in greater detail with attorney Aaron Luck, call McPhillips Shinbaum at 334-262-1911.

How Common is Substance-Impaired Driving?

Per the Alabama Crash Stats booklet, alcohol and drug impairment is fairly common across all car crashes in Alabama. Impaired crashes are more common amongst younger drivers, and male drivers are much more likely to drive while impaired than female drivers. Drunk driving crashes start creeping upward in the early evening, peaking between 11:00 P.M. and 1:00 A.M. Saturday and Sunday are the most common days for drunk driving crashes.

Numbers have trended the wrong way for many years, despite significant efforts to decrease drunk driving rates. Legislators have increased punishments, law enforcement has ramped up enforcement, and public education efforts have tried to show the devastating effects of impaired driving—and yet, none of these efforts have significantly changed outcomes.

Effects of Substance Impairment on Driving

The use of illegal or legal substances can affect your driving in a number of ways, and research backs up the idea that your driving becomes significantly worse when you’re impaired. Alcohol and drugs negatively impair your cognitive function, making it more difficult for you to perceive risks, make sound decisions behind the wheel, and react to changes in traffic or weather. Substance impairment also affects a driver’s motor skills; this means that even if a driver can recognize a risk on the road, they may not physically be able to avoid it.

When you combine the numerous weaknesses caused by impaired driving, you have a situation where an accident is nearly inevitable—especially since many drivers who engage in impaired driving do so on a regular basis.

Substance Impairment and Liability

When a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of a collision, liability is heavily affected. Proving that the other driver was impaired makes it much easier to prove liability, as their choice to drive while impaired was both negligent and reckless. From there, it’s usually only a small step to linking the driver’s impaired state to the accident and the victim’s injuries.

However, liability may not lie solely with the impaired driver. If they were drinking at a bar or club and that’s where they were overserved, that place may have some liability. They have an obligation to avoid serving that much alcohol to those who are driving. It’s important to work with a personal injury attorney with experience in drunk driving accidents, as they know what it takes to prove liability and fight for the compensation you deserve.

The Potential for Punitive Damages

When a driver chooses to drive while impaired, they are making an intentional choice to put themselves and others in danger. This is particularly true if the driver has a long record of driving while impaired; it shows a willful disrespect for the people they share the road with. In some cases, impaired driving accidents may qualify for punitive damages in Alabama.

Punitive damages are rare; they are only awarded when a case goes to court and when the at-fault party has acted in gross negligence and wanton recklessness. When you start working with an attorney in Montgomery, they can tell you whether or not your case is likely to result in punitive damages.

Start Your Car Accident Claim with the Team at McPhillips Shinbaum

The sooner you begin working on your car accident case with the team at McPhillips Shinbaum, the sooner we can start building your case. Attorney Aaron Luck fights aggressively for his clients and their right to seek compensation. Give us a call at 334-262-1911 or contact us online to set up a consultation.