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How a tragic DWI can alter a life

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2022 | Motor vehicle crashes

Driving responsibly is a habit many people have forgotten in the last couple of years. While responsible drivers still exist, distracted, reckless and impaired driving seems to be on the rise, and sadly these behaviors cause untold grief and unnecessary pain to thousands of Americans each year.

Close to one in three fatal motor vehicle accidents in our nation occurs as the result of alcohol impairment with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In spite of social awareness, education and stiff penalties for offenders, incidents of drunk driving are still occurring at an alarming rate.

In New Jersey, although total fatalities from DWI’s stood at 22.2% in 2018, which was below the national average of 28.8%, fatal crashes involving binge drinking and recent alcohol consumption among minors were higher than the national average. There are other sobering statistics on alcohol-related crashes in the Garden State:

  • Highly impaired drivers with a BAC of .15% or higher were responsible for 61.9% of these fatalities
  • Repeat offenders made up 83.3% of these deaths.

Pursuing a personal injury claim after a traffic accident

Driving while alcohol-intoxicated or impaired by drugs or prescription medications is a criminal offense that carries stiff penalties and license restrictions on conviction. While insurance should cover most of the victim’s losses, there are limits to coverage, which is often in the range of $50,000.

The at-fault insurance company will want to settle as soon as possible. Settling too soon, however, will place restrictions on what the injured party can claim in the future, as the insurer may ask them to sign a release of liability document. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, however, and some can take weeks or months to appear.

When it looks like medical bills, lost wages and other expenses will exceed what insurance can pay out, the accident victim may pursue a personal injury claim. A DWI is a form of negligence that the plaintiff can prove with evidence of a breath or blood test and the police report. But it is better to wait until the other driver is either convicted of the crime or has pleaded guilty, as it will be easier to prove financial liability in civil court.

Third-party liability

New Jersey is one state that imposes liability on alcohol venders for serving to minors or patrons who were clearly drunk when they got behind the wheel. These so-called “dram shop” laws will hold the establishment liable for negligence if the vender was aware that the customer was underage or visibly intoxicated and they la