DUI Crashes in Middle Tennessee
Statistics indicate Tennessee is doing a better job at reducing the number of fatal car crashes caused by intoxicated drivers. In 2014, Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 8,418 people on suspicion of driving under the influence – almost 2,000 more people than the previous year – and fatal DUI crashes decreased by 18.6 percent from 2013 to 2014. However, THP recorded five more non-fatal alcohol-related crashes in 2014 than in 2013.
Non-fatal DUI crashes can have disastrous consequences, especially because excessive speed is usually a contributing factor. Occupants of other vehicles may suffer from broken bones, internal injuries, brain injuries, spinal damage and mental trauma. The costs of emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, and ongoing rehabilitative care can ruin a family’s financial future, but victims of intoxicated drivers may be entitled to compensation that can help with those expenses.
John R. Colvin focuses on representing Tennessee Valley residents who have been seriously injured and families whose loved ones died because of someone else’s negligent actions.
If an intoxicated driver hurt someone in your family, call our office today at (931) 962-1044.
Patterns of Dangerous Behavior
People sometimes fail to recognize when they’re too intoxicated to drive, and that could explain many first-time DUI offenses. However, drivers under the influence who cause serious and fatal vehicle accidents are often well aware they should not be driving, because many of them have been arrested in the past on a DUI charge.
In 2013, a woman who was under the influence of alcohol caused a crash near Mooresville, AL, killing another driver. The woman had been previously convicted of two DUI charges and was on probation for a third DUI conviction at the time of the crash. A man who caused a fatal wreck in Sevierville in 2008 had 13 previous DUI convictions. Repeat DUI offenders show no apparent regard for the safety of other people on the roads.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics for 2013 show that in fatal alcohol-related crashes nationwide, the most frequently recorded blood alcohol content for drivers was .17 – more than twice the legal threshold for intoxication. Of drivers who had a BAC of .15 or greater, 24 percent had previous license suspensions or revocations.
Drivers who repeatedly get behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink may not care about consequences like jail time, license suspensions, or fines. But a court can, in some cases, further punish offenders by finding victims of their recklessness are entitled to punitive damages.
If an intoxicated driver is responsible for your injuries, we want to help you pursue justice. Call us today at (931) 962-1044.
Police can administer breath alcohol tests or field sobriety tests when they’re trying to determine whether a driver is intoxicated, and to what degree. Detecting drug usage is more difficult, because at present, there is no easy-to-administer test that can determine during a traffic stop whether someone is under the influence of drugs. A blood sample may be necessary to find proof of drug use.
The NHTSA did administer roadside drug tests in its 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use, a voluntary study that pays drivers to participate and offers transportation home if drivers are found to be impaired. The study found the number of drivers testing positive for measurable blood alcohol levels declined 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, but 20 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug, up from 16.3 percent in 2007.
The NHTSA notes that the presence of a drug in the blood does not necessarily mean a driver is intoxicated – traces of marijuana, for example, may be detectable long after its intoxicating effects have worn off. And the NHTSA found some drugs were legal prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. However, the study suggests that more people, in general, have legal or illegal drugs in their blood while driving, and the effects of those drugs are difficult to measure.
Drugs that cause drowsiness, changes in mood, or changes in body chemistry could interfere with driving ability, and when combined with alcohol, a drug’s effects may be less predictable. Police officers can – and do – make DUI arrests when they suspect a driver is impaired due to drug use, but drivers often avoid conviction, because there is no legal threshold for drug intoxication, as there is for alcohol.
Protecting Your Interests
The legal justice system in the United States gives criminal defendants the right to a fair trial and offers them a means to appeal a verdict or sentence, but victims’ rights are sometimes overlooked in the process.
John R. Colvin is an advocate for injured people and their families, working tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for them. If a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol harmed you or someone in your family, we want to talk to you. Call us today at (931) 962-1044, or fill out our online contact form.