‘Tis the season for festivities and holiday travel. With a marked increase of motorists on the roadways, it’s important to consider the prevalence and risks associated with a drunk driver accident.
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, nearly two people are killed every hour in an alcohol-related auto accident. In Arizona last year, there were a reported 4,491 alcohol-related crashes, with 266 of them resulting in fatalities. Furthermore, nearly half of all reported alcohol-related crashes resulted in injury and property damage. Simply put, drunk driver accidents pose an imminent threat to you and your family. It’s critical to be aware of the law and know how to best protect yourself and your loved ones if involved in a drunk driver accident.
Drunk Driver Accident Laws
The state of Arizona enforces a stringent set of laws when it comes to drunk driving. Motorists who fail to uphold these laws face a misdemeanor criminal conviction, steep penalties including jail time, license suspension, exorbitant fines, and insurance limitations and surcharges.
In Arizona, like most other states, it is against the law for an individual to drive when they have a concentration of .08 percent or higher of alcohol in their blood system. For commercial vehicle drivers, on the other hand, the criteria to be charged is even lower at .04 percent. A common misconception is that drunk driving laws only apply to adults ages 21 and older. However, underage drivers are not spared of drunk driving convictions, and in fact, it is illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their body. Another misconception is that drunk driving laws only apply to automobiles. In Arizona, the laws also extend to include watercraft and aircraft as well.
Drivers whose blood-alcohol concentration exceeds .15 are charged with what’s called “an Extreme DUI.” This offense yields even harsher penalties including hefty fines up to $2,000, loss of license for up to one year, and a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device which prevents the vehicle from starting unless the driver blows into it to prove that no alcohol has been consumed. Subsequent drunk driving offenses naturally yield increased penalties across the board.
What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver
Being involved in a drunk driver accident can be frightening and overwhelming. However, it’s crucial to take the necessary steps to ensure the protection of yourself, your family, and your rights. These key steps include:
- Call for medical help– seek emergency assistance by calling 911 and the police immediately. The presence of first responders will also aid in documenting the appropriate information and critical observations surrounding the accident.
- Record and document the accident– Use a camera or smartphone take as many photos as you can of the accident scene, capturing anything that may be useful. Be sure to secure contact information from any witnesses at the scene as well.
- Notify your insurance company – It’s important to report the accident right away, especially when you are not at fault. Your insurance company will also assist you with managing the claim process involving the other driver’s insurance.
- Secure a copy of the accident report – Review all recorded information and make sure that there are no inaccuracies or omissions. Triple check that times, dates, weather and road conditions, drunk driver’s condition, and other pertinent details are presented.
- Have your injuries evaluated by a physician– In addition to on-site accident treatment from first responders, it’s prudent to follow up with your doctor. Some injuries might not present themselves until later. Have your physician assess and document treatment related to your pain or injuries.
- Contact an attorney – seek counsel as soon as possible, especially if injuries were sustained in the accident. An attorney will be able to secure and solidify evidence for your case, advise you on how to best handle the medical claim and insurance issues, and provide guidance on settlement value.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a drunk driver accident, contact us today for immediate guidance and assistance with your case.