While DUIs are certainly not limited to holidays, alcohol-related crashes often spike during times of celebration and commemoration, with tragic results. So if you find yourself on the road over the holidays, you want to be extra vigilant about your surroundings.
New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day on the road when it comes to drunk driving accidents. According to statistics by the National Highway Transit Safety Authority (NHTSA):
- New Year’s Day 2022 saw a 116% higher risk of DUI fatalities than normal.
- The Fourth of July was the deadliest weekend, with 78% higher risk than average.
- Labor Day is usually the second deadliest weekend of the year, with a 54% higher risk.
- Thanksgiving and Memorial Day both have about a 50% increased risk of DUI fatalities.
- The months of June, July, and August are known as the 100 deadliest days of summer because of the increase in social drinking during that time each year.
- Between the years 2010 and 2018, holiday drunk driving resulted in a total of 6,000 fatal DUI accidents causing over 6,700 fatalities.
- The year 2020 recorded a total of 10,598 fatal crashes where alcohol-impaired driving played a role. That year, DUI crashes made up 30% of all fatal car crashes.
California’s roads are especially vulnerable to DUIs because of the distances between locales, the lack of public transportation, and the state’s sprawling network of high-speed freeways.
Even if you’re aware of the dangers of drunk driving, another person’s reckless decision can change everything in an instant, no matter how careful you are. Whenever anyone gets behind the steering wheel while drunk, they’re responsible for the consequences of their actions.
So what should you do if you get hit by a drunk driver?
First and foremost, call 911 and check for injuries if it’s safe for you to do so. You may also have to move your vehicles out of traffic in order to avoid further danger.
Immediate Steps to Take After a DUI Accident
Drunk driving not only puts people’s lives in danger, but DUI can be a serious crime. This is different than most car accidents, which are usually civil cases where the people involved sue each other for damages. In contrast, a criminal charge can carry fines, penalties, and jail time.
When you call 911 after a DUI accident, you immediately start the process of:
- Getting medical help for anyone who’s been injured, and
- Gathering evidence and filing a police report.
Car accidents that don’t involve alcohol or drugs don’t necessarily need a police response or a police report, though having one can help back up your case. But because a DUI gets into criminal territory, it’s important to get the authorities involved.
If police respond, they might offer you a copy of the report before they leave the scene. If not, find out where you can get a copy of the official report when it’s filed.
If a driver appears to be intoxicated or drunk, they should not drive away from the scene of the accident, even if their car still works. Doing so would result in committing another crime – a hit-and-run on top of a DUI. This could result in even more serious charges.
However, as a DUI victim, you’re responsible for your own safety. It’s not on you to stop a drunk driver from driving away from the scene. If a driver acts intoxicated, irrationally, or belligerently, you should prioritize protecting yourself until the authorities arrive by pulling over somewhere brightly lit and crowded and staying in your car. Unfortunately, intoxicated drivers may also suffer from road rage, which could escalate the situation.
What to Do After Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver
Once the dust settles after an accident, you should take a few more steps to protect your health and your rights. Even though DUIs are criminal matters, you can also file a civil lawsuit against an intoxicated driver who caused you to get injured in a crash.
- Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene of the crash. The fresher the evidence, the better. Get photographs of the aftermath and the driver’s car, especially if you suspect that the driver may try to flee the scene. In DUI cases, videos of the driver’s behavior can be extremely helpful, especially if they’re blurring their speech, stumbling around, or showing other signs of being intoxicated.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you feel “fine,” latent injuries like concussions may not be obvious right away, which is why it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible after your accident. Otherwise, these injuries may get worse over time. When you see a doctor, you start a paper trail so that you can prove that the accident actually caused your injuries.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case. Your situation may involve both civil and criminal issues – an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the legal system to get the justice and compensation you deserve after an accident.
Whoever made the decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated should be responsible for paying for the consequences of their actions, especially if they’ve harmed others. The law agrees, which is why you can get justice by filing a personal injury lawsuit to get compensation for your damages. If your family member passed away in a DUI crash caused by someone else, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit or a survivor’s claim.
Even minor injuries like whiplash can seriously affect your life, while major injuries like spinal injuries or TBI could change your life as you know it almost entirely. Because drunk drivers tend to drive recklessly and aggressively, DUI crashes often happen at high speeds. For victims, this could result in medical bills and lost income from having to take time away from work.
An experienced California personal injury attorney can help you get the justice you deserve after getting hit by a drunk driver. Click here to contact the Sepulveda Sanchez legal team now for your free consultation. We work on a contingency basis so you don’t pay until you win.