Drunk Driving Accidents


Tulsa Drunk Driving Accidents

The law in Oklahoma makes it a punishable criminal act for anyone to operate a motor vehicle on the roadways of the state if they have a blood or breath alcohol concentration level of .08 or they appear to be under the influence of alcohol. Motorists driving while under the influence (DUI) or while impaired by (DWI) alcohol face penalties including fines, jail time, and license suspension.

When the police or highway patrol are able to get drunk drivers off the roads before they cause an accident it is a good day. But unfortunately, there are just too many people who are out driving after drinking. The fact they are too drunk to drive is not known until after an accident occurs.

According to the Highway Safety Office at the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, there were a total of 2,949 alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2020 resulting in 176 fatalities. Tulsa County recorded 491 alcohol-related accidents – 20 of which resulted in fatalities.

At the Tulsa law firm of Graves McLain Injury Lawyers, we believe too many people get seriously injured or die as a result of drunk drivers. In representing persons injured in drunk driving accidents we hope to send a strong message to the community that drunk driving hurts families, is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.

How a Tulsa Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help You Get Justice

Hiring a personal injury attorney after a drunk driving accident will ensure that an attorney:

  • Takes over communications with insurance adjusters
  • Reviews all requests for information and provides legal advice about how to respond
  • Knows the law and how the claims process works
  • Is familiar with the legal issues that may arise and can devise strategies to minimize their impact on a client’s claim
  • Is aware of all the potential injuries and other losses that a client may receive compensation for
  • Will investigate the accident and acquire evidence to support a client’s claim
The Ongoing Problem of Drunk Driving Accidents

Even though the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half since the organization was founded in 1982, drunk driving is still the number one cause of death on America’s roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The following statistics demonstrate how pervasive drunk driving remains.

  • Someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 51 minutes.
  • Someone is injured in a drunk driving accident every 2 minutes.
  • There is a 66% chance that a person will be impacted by a drunk driving accident at some point during their lifetime.
  • About 33% of drivers arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders.
  • The average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before their first arrest.
  • Every day more than 300,000 people drive drunk but only about 2,800 are arrested.
Why Alcohol and Driving are Such a Dangerous Mix

The consumption of alcohol affects the body by depressing the central nervous system. What that does is slow down the communication between neurons in the brain, causing decreased brain function.

A report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies the skills important to driving that are impaired by alcohol.

  • Judgment – alcohol slows down the ability to quickly access stored knowledge for problem-solving
  • Vision – alcohol slows down the ability to focus clearly and accurately judge distance, speed, and movement
  • Color distinction – alcohol slows the ability to distinguish colors and impairs the ability to identify traffic signs by color
  • Reaction time – alcohol slows down the brain’s ability to interpret a situation which means there is less time to respond when immediate action is required

As little a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as .02 (well below the legal limit) has been shown to cause some loss of judgment, a decline in the visual ability to track movement, and an inability to simultaneously perform two tasks.

When Drunk Drivers are More Likely on the Roads

Drunk driving accidents can occur at any time on any given day but recent Oklahoma drunk driving crash statistics show certain times seem to record more crashes than others.

  • May and October are the months with the highest number of drunk driving accidents while April has the fewest.
  • Most drunk driving crashes occur on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.
  • Drunk driving accidents occur more frequently in the evenings with the hour of 9 to 10 p.m. tallying the most crashes and 9 to 10 a.m. having the least.
Who Gets into Drunk Driving Accidents in Oklahoma?

The majority of drunk drivers who get into accidents on Oklahoma roads are men ages 20 to 29. Men are driving in about 60% of all alcohol-related crashes. The most often cited contributing factor in drunk driving accidents is unsafe speed.

Warning Signs That a Driver Might be Drunk

Of course, it is not often possible to recognize a drunk driver prior to the driver causing an accident but there are some driving behaviors that can indicate a driver may be under the influence of alcohol. MADD suggests that observing the following driving behaviors may help someone spot a drunk driver before an accident:

  • Sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting out of a lane or weaving back and forth across lane lines
  • Swerving to avoid objects
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Driving way below the speed limit
  • Driving way above the speed limit
  • Responding slowly to traffic signals
  • Driving without headlights at night
Injuries Sustained in Drunk Driving Accidents

The injuries that can be sustained in a drunk driving accident are not different than injuries that occur in car crashes that do not involve alcohol. But they may be more severe due to the speed of the at-fault driver at the time of the collision. Since speed is often a contributing factor in alcohol-related crashes, the impact may be more forceful, resulting in more significant injuries.

The nature and extent of injuries that occur in a drunk driving accident will also depend on where a vehicle is impacted and what happens after the impact.

Compensable injuries that may result from drunk driving accidents include:

  • Soft tissue injuries – whiplash and bruising
  • Neck and back injuries – spinal column and disc damage
  • Head and brain injuries – cognitive and physical impairment
  • Spinal cord injuries – paralysis
  • Internal organ damage – can be serious and hard to detect
  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Death (families should be able to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one)
Compensation for Injuries from a Drunk Driving Accident

Persons injured in drunk driving accidents or the surviving family members of persons killed by drunk drivers are allowed to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault parties.

Economic damages can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income and lost future earnings
  • Other expenses related to the accident

Non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain & suffering
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Diminished ability to enjoy life

There has never been a limit on the amount of economic damages that can be recovered. But non-economic damages were capped at $350,000 in most personal injury cases until the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared the limitation unconstitutional in 2019.

How Drunk Driving Charges Affect a Personal Injury Claim

A drunk driver may be facing criminal charges in addition to a civil claim for personal injuries. The focus of the two proceedings is slightly different. In a criminal proceeding, the state is trying to prove the fact of being drunk while driving. In a personal injury claim, an injured party needs to prove the drunk driver caused the accident. Proof that a driver was drunk increases the likelihood that a driver will be found at fault for an accident.

But what happens if a drunk driver does not get convicted on criminal charges or agrees to some lesser penalty to avoid a possible conviction?

While a criminal conviction for drunk driving can help a civil case for personal injury, it is not necessary to establish fault in a civil case. The level of necessary proof is different in criminal and civil cases. Evidence that was not sufficient to get a criminal conviction may be adequate to support a finding of fault in a personal injury case. Please speak to a skilled DUI accident lawyer in Tulsa for help moving forward, regardless of whether or not the at-fault driver is facing criminal charges.

Call Graves McLain Injury Lawyers for Tulsa Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving not only causes direct injury to the persons involved in accidents caused by drunk drivers but also harms society as a whole by making our roadways less safe for all of us. Drunk drivers need to understand the damage they can cause with their careless actions and be held accountable for the choices they make.

The personal injury lawyers at the Tulsa law office of Graves McLain Injury Lawyers are experienced in representing clients who have sustained serious injuries at the hands of drunk drivers. We don’t tolerate drunk driving and are aggressive advocates for justice on behalf of our clients. In most cases, we only get paid after our clients do. Call 918-359-6600 to schedule a free consultation or contact Graves McLain Injury Lawyers here.

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