The Law Offices of Flint & Crawford
Auto Accident: Driving While Impaired
Driving while impaired is a broad term that covers anyone operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, medications or legal or illegal drugs. Operating a vehicle while impaired is against the law and is a leading cause for accidents. People under the influence of any of these substances simply cannot operate their vehicle in a safe manner.
When your body is under the influence of an intoxicating substance your decision making skills are impaired. You may not be able to make the right decisions behind the wheel which can lead to an accident. Your physical reflexes will also be diminished. Being under the influence can cause you to react to any situation too slowly to be safe.
- In 2016 there were 17,434 vehicular accidents that involved a driver under the influence.
- In 2016 there were 987 deaths in Texas related to driving under the influence accidents.
- The most driving under the influence accidents occur on Saturday and Sunday nights between 6pm and 4am.
These statistics become even more startling when you consider that the rate of accidents occurring where an intoxicant is involved means that every 20 minutes a person is injured or killed in a driving under the influence related accident in Texas.
Knowing When You Have Had Too Much To Drink
It is a misconception to think that you “know” when you have had too much to drink and shouldn’t drive. The fact is, if you have had anything to drink you should not drive. Your reflexes and mental capacity is impaired after one drink and even if you are a regular drinker you cannot function normally when you have consumed alcohol.
The same should be applied to medications. If the medication that you are taking, prescribed or over the counter, states that it can make you drowsy you should avoid operating a vehicle. Medications can quickly impair your reaction time and ability to make good decisions.
The easiest way to avoid any complications from alcohol or medications is to not drive at all. Always have a designated driver, or run your errands before taking medication. Every time you get behind the wheel when you have consumed an intoxicating substance you are placing your life and the lives of others at risk.
DWI Penalties In Texas
If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Texas, you can expect to receive one or more of the following penalties:
- Up to a $2,000 fine.
- Jail sentence of 3 to 180 days.
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to 2 years.
- Annual surcharge of up to $2,000 a year payable to the State for up to 3 years to retain your driver’s license.
- Mandatory installation of a Driver’s Ignition Interlock System
- Possible mandatory intervention or education program
The Court can impose one or more of all of these fines based on the circumstances of your arrest. If you have been previously arrested for the same type of offense the penalties will be significantly higher.
If your arrest involved an accident or if there were minors in the vehicle when you were arrested the penalties will be more severe.
It should be understood that if you are involved in an accident that results in serious bodily injury of another person you could be charged with Intoxication Assault. This type of criminal charge is a 3rd Degree felony in Texas.
If You Are Injured In A Drunk Driving Accident
If you are involved in a drunk driving accident it is very important that you seek immediate legal representation. These types of accidents must be handled very carefully because of the potential criminal charges being placed against the intoxicated driver. While these charges do not affect your case for compensation, they can often cause unnecessary delays for the injured party.
Steps To Take When An Accident Occurs
If you have been involved in any type of accident you should use the following steps as a guideline to protect your rights as an injury victim:
- Notify Emergency Services. You will want to have emergency services arrive at the scene as soon as possible. Even if you feel the accident is small, you need a police report to document the event. This report will contain very relevant information about your case. Most insurance companies will not acknowledge an accident that does not have a report.
- Get Medical Help. You should seek medical attention at the time of the accident. Even if you believe that your injuries are minor or that you do not have any, you should be examined. That headache you have or upset stomach may not be from the stress of the accident, it may actually be an indicator of a head, neck or internal injuries. Being checked over by a medical professional will ensure that your health is protected after the accident.
- Write Down What You Remember. Document everything you remember about the event. Think about anything you may have noticed prior to the accident occurring. Write down the time of day and weather conditions. Write down any sounds you may have heard. All of this information will be very relevant when you are negotiating with the insurance company at a later date.
- Contact An Attorney. You will want to speak to a lawyer in Texarkana TX as soon as possible after the accident has happened. The insurance company is going to act fast to try to close the case so that they can save money. Having an attorney represent your case as soon as possible protects your rights and ensures that the insurance company acts in a fair manner.
- Avoid Social Media. If you must put anything on social media about your accident you must remain very vague. Yes, you can say that you were involved in an accident that day, but do not place any details about the event at all. Yes, you can say you were injured, but avoid details. Yes, you can say that you have hired legal representation, but avoid any details discussed between you and your attorney. The insurance company will actively watch your social media and will use anything they can to say your injuries or losses were not as severe as you have claimed.
Once you have contacted your lawyer in Texarkana TX, it is very important that you work closely with your attorney. Your lawyer will provide you with the information you need to make a successful claim for compensation for your injuries and losses.