When people choose to drive drunk, they’re rarely the only ones who end up paying for that mistake. A drunk driving accident can destroy your car, leave you with lifelong injuries, and costs you thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. If this has recently happened to you, you already know the toll that drunk driving accidents can take on you and those close to you.
The Southfield, MI drunk driving accident lawyers at Christensen Law are here to defend the rights of accident victims. Founding attorney David Christensen has been named one of the best lawyers in Michigan by U.S. News & World Report since 2012, and he’s secured record-setting verdicts for our personal injury clients. To learn more about how we can help you after your drunk driving accident, call (248) 775-5820 or visit our contact page to set up a free consultation.
How Common is Drunk Driving in Southfield?
The State of Michigan’s annual Drunk Driving Audit for 2018 shows that drunk driving is a problem in Southfield and Oakland County more broadly. In Oakland County, There were 670 people killed in crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or both.
Oakland County data also shows that another 17 people died in crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or both. There were 4,522 people arrested for drunk driving and various related offenses in Oakland County, and there were 138 such arrests reported by the Southfield Police Department.
Drunk Driving Car Accident Stats
Michigan as a hole does not have a great track record when it comes to drinking and driving. The data from the 2018 Drunk Driving Audit show that:
- 4,593 people were injured in crashes in which alcohol was a factor (but drugs were not)
- 799 people were hurt in crashes involving both alcohol and drugs
- 187 people died in alcohol-only crashes
- 128 people in crashes involving both alcohol and drugs
- State law enforcement officials attempted 31,856 blood or breath tests to screen for possible DUI infractions
Other startling facts can be found in the state Office of Highway Safety Planning’s annual Traffic Crash Facts Report for 2019:
- Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for 29.49 percent of all fatal crashes.
- Crashes involving alcohol made up 3.11 percent of all traffic crashes statewide.
- While 17.64 percent of all traffic crashes resulted in an injury or death, 42.68 percent of alcohol-involved crashes resulted in an injury or death.
- 18.2 percent of all fatal crashes involved drinking but no drug use, 12.4 percent of all fatal crashes involved drug use but no drinking, and 11.3 percent of all fatal crashes involved both drinking and drug use.
Driving Under the Influence Laws in Michigan
Michigan has two tiers of punishments for first-time drunk driving offenders. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is above 0.08 percent but below 0.17 percent, the potential criminal penalties are:
- A fine up to $500
- Up to 93 days in jail
- Having your driver’s license suspended for up to 180 days
- 6 points on your driver’s license
- Up to 360 hours of community service
If your BAC level is above 0.17, the penalties for a first-time offense are:
- A fine up to $700
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Having your driver’s license suspended for up to one year
- 6 points on your driver’s license
- Up to 360 hours of community service
- Mandatory enrollment in a drug or alcohol treatment program
- Having an ignition interlock device installed on your car
The penalties for driving under the influence of other drugs is the same, unless you have a valid medical marijuana card. Michigan residents with a valid medical marijuana card cannot be prosecuted (per a Michigan Supreme Court ruling in 2013) simply for having traces of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) in their system. Instead, the authorities must prove the individual was intoxicated in another manner.
The penalties increase for subsequent drunk driving and drugged driving offenses. Refusing to take a DUI test will result in your license automatically being suspended for a year.
Lastly, Michigan also has what’s known as a “Dram Shop Act.” This law says that bars, liquor stores, and other alcohol vendors can be held responsible for selling alcohol to minors or to “visibly intoxicated” patrons if doing so contributed to your accident.
Common Injuries From Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk drivers often drive faster and behave more recklessly than if they were sober. This tends to make the injuries suffered in drunk driving accidents more severe than what you might find in a typical car crash. Some of the most common injuries in drunk driving accidents include:
- Bruises and lacerations
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries (damage to your internal organs, muscles, ligaments and tendons, etc.)
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crushed or amputated limbs
What to Do If I Have Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you’re involved in a drunk driving accident, it’s very easy to panic, but doing so can cause you to make costly mistakes. Take a few deep breaths, then follow the following steps:
- Call 911– You may need emergency medical personnel to take you to the hospital. If you don’t, someone else involved in the crash might. Calling 911 will also bring law enforcement to the scene to begin their investigations. They may issue a citation for fault when the investigation is complete, and you’ll want the accident report if you decide to file a lawsuit.
- Take plenty of pictures– Take pictures of the cars involved in the crash, as well as any damage to the vehicles, your injuries, any injuries to other people in your car, any nearby road signs, any cameras that might have seen the crash, any road damage that might have contributed to the crash, etc.
- Get contact information for the other driver(s)– Get their name, phone number, email address, mailing address, driver’s license number, and their insurance information. If there are any third-party witnesses who saw what happened, get the same information from them as well.
- Seek medical treatment– If you aren’t taken to a hospital, schedule your own appointment with your doctor for as soon as possible. Waiting too long to start treating your injuries may lower the value of your claim or give the opposing party an excuse to dismiss it entirely. Starting on your treatment quickly also gives you a better chance of making a full recovery. Lastly, you’ll also need your medical records to fully document the extent of your injuries.
- Talk to a lawyer– A drunk driving accident can take a massive toll on your physical health and your financial future. Filing a claim or lawsuit against the drunk driver who hit you gives you an opportunity to make them pay for their actions. You also get a chance to recover compensation for the losses that the drunk driver inflicted on you.
Proving Liability for a Southfield DUI Car Crash
Personal injury claims in Michigan, including drunk driving lawsuits, are based on proving negligence on the part of the responsible party. If you want to prove a negligence claim, here’s what you’ll need to show:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. A “duty of care” means that the defendant had a legal responsibility to prevent you from coming to harm. In drunk driving accident claims, this is generally pretty easy with the right evidence, as there are strict laws about drinking and driving. Motorists have a responsibility to follow these laws and avoid crashing into other drivers.
- The defendant breached their duty of care. This means that the defendant failed up to the responsibilities and duties required of them by law. In a drunk driving accident claim, the defendant breached their duty of care to you when they got behind the wheel after drinking.
- The defendant’s actions caused the accident. If the defendant broke the law but someone else caused your crash, then their illegal actions don’t matter for the purposes of your lawsuit. You must show how the defendant’s negligent behavior led to your accident.
- The defendant’s actions caused damages that are measurable. “Damages” is the legal term for compensation you receive in a lawsuit. Once you’ve established that the defendant was negligent and that they caused your accident, you’ll also need to provide proof of the damages that they caused.
How Christensen Law in Southfield, MI Can Help
The drunk driving accident attorneys at Christensen Law have a strong record of helping our clients find justice. Here’s what we’ll do if you hire us to represent you:
- Launch a thorough investigation into your accident to find the liable parties as well as potential avenues for securing compensation.
- Find you the right doctors and other specialists to get you the care you need and help you plan out the next chapter of your life.
- Handle all the court paperwork and communication with the opposing lawyers and insurance companies.
- Negotiate vigorously for a fair settlement that represents the full value of your losses.
- Prepare your case for trial in the event a fair settlement cannot be reached.
If you were hurt in an accident with a drunk driver in Southfield, contact Christensen Law right away. Our attorneys are standing by to help you get the compensation and justice that you deserve. We represent clients on a contingency-fee-basis, which means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Schedule your free case review today by calling (248) 775-5820 or visiting our contact page.