How to Handle a Drunk Driver After an Accident
Despite warnings about the dangers of drunk driving, far too many car accidents, injuries, and fatalities occur every year because of driving under the influence, or DUI. The 2017 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System reveals some sobering statistics. In 2015, there were 141,372 total DUI arrests and 116,190 convictions. There were 1,144 alcohol-involved crash fatalities and 25,152 alcohol-involved crash injuries.1
Sobriety checkpoints are allowed in California, but not all drunk drivers are caught. About 1.8% of adults have reported driving after drinking too much (compared to the national average of 1.9%) in the past 30 days,2 so there’s a chance of dealing with an intoxicated driver if you’re involved in an automobile crash.
A substantial percentage of collisions involve drinking. Here’s how you can deal with this traumatic experience and maximize your safety.
This is the number one priority in any motor vehicle accident. If possible, move your vehicle off the roadway, activate your hazard lights, and set up flares or cones. Check to see if anyone in your vehicle is injured or possibly in shock and allow first responders to evaluate you and your passengers. Then see whether the drunk driver and their passengers are injured; call 911 to report the accident. If the driver is aggressive or erratic, back away, and don’t follow if they flee the scene.
Use your cellphone camera to document any injuries or damage. Also take pictures and videos that would provide evidence of intoxication, such as difficulty standing/walking, unusual behavior, and slurred speech. Get the driver’s license plate number and evidence such as objects or weather conditions that could have contributed to the crash. Photograph any debris or skid marks on the road as well.
And, as with any car accident, get the contact information, insurance, and vehicle make and model of all cars involved, and statements/contact information from witnesses. You can request such information from the police officer investigating the scene as well.
Do Not Engage with the Drunk Driver
It’s important to be attentive of the driver’s behavior. If they’re behaving unpredictably, don’t escalate the situation. They could take it out on you and start an altercation. It’s best to avoid any confrontation or talk to them at all. If they direct feelings of guilt toward you, they may try to blame you for the accident.
Be Present at All of the Drunk Driver Hearings
While most individuals accused of drunk driving plead guilty or agree to lesser charges, some choose to fight in court. You may be required to be present if there are criminal proceedings. If there’s a trial and you are subpoenaed to appear, and fail to do so, you could be found in contempt of court. The legal steps are different if a civil personal injury suit is filed and the drunk driver was charged with a misdemeanor. Rather than criminal charges, they may still be held accountable for their negligent behavior and be liable for civil damages.
Contact an Accident Attorney
Filing a lawsuit against a drunk driver can be complex. If you’re the victim of a drunk driving accident, our car accident attorney in Los Angeles can help fight for your rights and ensure you are adequately compensated for injuries, deaths of loved ones, missed work, and vehicular damage. At the Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, we charge no upfront fees. For more information or to obtain a free case evaluation, call 888-952-2952 or contact us online.