Drunk Driving Lawyers – Drugged Driving Accidents
Drunk drivers can be held criminally responsible for their decision to drive drunk, and a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the drunk driver enables the victim or victim’s family to hold the driver civilly responsible. Additionally, Connecticut law allows victims of alcohol-related accidents to pursue liability against commercial establishments in certain circumstances, so-called “dram shop” liability. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other establishments, as well as social hosts that serve alcohol, may have legal responsibility.
Jackson O’Keefe, LLP, knows the intricacies of the law and practice in drunk driving accidents. You don’t care about those details, but they can be very important in putting your case in the best possible posture for a favorable resolution. One of the mainstays of Jackson O’Keefe, LLP, over the last 50 years has been helping insurers defend against some of their most tragic and horrendous drunk driving cases. Now, we bring the knowledge and experience to you, to help you and your family obtain the full compensation it may be entitled to.
Jackson O’Keefe has the knowledge and experience to help if you or a loved one has been the victim of a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk or drugged driver. In addition to assessing and pursuing the legal responsibility of third parties for the loss, we know that sometimes an underinsured or uninsured claim may be necessary against your own insurance company and have the knowledge and experience to pursue such claims for full compensation as well.
The firm understands that the injuries suffered in a car accident can be financially and physically devastating. Jackson O’Keefe has the experience, knowledge and resources to help you recover full and fair compensation for all your losses. If you have suffered a personal injury because of the negligence or carelessness of another person, Jackson O’Keefe can take care of your legal concerns while you heal physically and emotionally. Contact the firm to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your Connecticut drunk driving accident injury claim. Jackson O’Keefe handles catastrophic injury claims involving traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury and paralysis, as well as claims for wrongful death.
The Connecticut car accident lawyers at Jackson O’Keefe have the years of experience and knowledge necessary to provide you with the skilled representation you need when dealing with insurance companies following any type of motor vehicle accident. Car crashes and those involving motorcycles or commercial trucks all have specific laws and issues unique to them. Quick assessment of those issues, determining the cause of the crash and assessing the severity of your injury and your medical needs are the services you can expect when you retain our Connecticut car accident attorneys. The Connecticut car accident lawyers at Jackson O’Keefe are adept at assessing the physical principles of the accident, the medical evidence used to evaluate injuries, and the economic and accounting principles required to evaluate losses. We provide the strongest possible representation to maximize your recovery. We will investigate the car accident scene, research the accident and your car, along with any other evidence that came into play at the time of your accident. We will stand up for you against any wrongdoer, trucking company or anyone else who has caused you harm. It is our responsibility to make sure your rights are upheld and defended. Because of our experience in taking cases to trial, we can often obtain favorable settlements even without a trial. With over 50 years of representing Connecticut car accident litigants, the law firm of Jackson O’Keefe understands how the unique circumstances of your collision require careful and compassionate representation.
Recent Studies on Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving Show Significant Ongoing Problems
Despite longstanding efforts to reduce drunk driving, according to a federal report released on December 9, 2010 last year 30 million Americans drove drunk and another 10 million drove under the influence of illegal drugs. In some states the number of drunk and drugged drivers tops 20 percent, according to the report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
According to the study, an average of 13.2 percent of people aged 16 and older drove drunk and 4.3 percent drove under the influence of an illegal drug in the past year. The survey’s state-by-state breakdown of drunk and drugged driving levels shows significant differences among the states. Some of the states with the highest levels of past year drunk driving were Wisconsin (23.7 percent) and North Dakota (22.4 percent). The highest rates of past year drugged driving were found in Rhode Island (7.8 percent) and Vermont (6.6 percent). States with the lowest rates of past year drunk driving included Utah (7.4 percent) and Mississippi (8.7 percent). Iowa and New Jersey had the lowest levels of past year drugged driving (2.9 percent and 3.2 percent respectively).
Levels of self-reported drunk and drugged driving differed dramatically among age groups. Younger drivers aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of drunk driving than those aged 26 or older (19.5 percent versus 11.8 percent). Similarly people aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of driving under the influence of illicit drugs than those aged 26 or older (11.4 percent versus 2.8 percent).
Additionally, a report released on November 30, 20101 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed post-mortem testing results indicating an increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured drivers over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009. According to data compiled by NHTSA, 63 percent of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 were tested for drugs. Of these, 3,952 tested positive for drug involvement, representing 18 percent of the total for that year. The report also showed drug use reported by the states among fatally injured drivers increasing from 13 percent in 2005, to 15 percent in 2006, 16 percent in 2007, and 18 percent in 2008. The report can be viewed here.
Connecticut Drunk Driving and Impaired Driving — The Problem Continues
Driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs can pose a significant threat to public safety because these substances can impair perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, and other brain functions necessary for safe driving. In the literature , driving while impaired has been linked to reckless driving, car crashes, and fatal accidents. A review of several studies found that between 5 and 25 percent of drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents tested positive for drugs, and 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths involved drugs. (Kelly, E., Darke, S., & Ross, J. (2004). A review of drug use and driving: Epidemiology, impairment, risk factors and risk perceptions. Drug and Alcohol Review, 23, 319-344) Furthermore, in 2008, 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths—nearly 12,000 deaths—were the result of alcohol-related crashes. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2009). Traffic safety facts, 2008 data: Alcohol-impaired driving (DOT HS 811 155). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation. Available as a PDF here.
In Connecticut, available statistics show that the number of prosecutions for drunk driving or impaired driving rose from 11843 in 2000 to 13,169 in 2009. Click here for DUI Statistics. According to the NHTSA, there were 99 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (including 14 minors) in Connecticut during 2009. While this a 14.5 percent decrease compared to 1999, Connecticut remains among the highest drunk driving problem states. Specifically, Connecticut is one of ten states with the highest rates of drunk driving, in the 17.0% to 23.7% range according to the December 2010 SAMHSA study. Connecticut is in the second tier of states when it comes to drugged driving, with a range of 4.8% to 5.2%.Connecticut’s Drunk Driving StatutesIn summary, Connecticut’s “drunk driving” or DUI law consists primarily of three statutes, C.G.S. §§ 14-227a, 14-227b and 14-227g. The first prohibits a person from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with an “elevated” blood alcohol content (BAC). A person is “under the influence” if his ability to drive is affected to an appreciable degree. He or she has an elevated BAC if it is found to be . 08% or more. Section 14-227g prohibits anyone under age 21 from driving with a BAC of . 02% or more. The laws specify evidence admissibility criteria for alcohol and drug tests. They establish criminal penalties and driver’s license suspension penalties for violations.
Connecticut General Statutes § 14-227b provides that a person who drives a vehicle has implicitly given consent to submit to drug or alcohol testing. It establishes administrative license suspension procedures for drivers who refuse to submit to a test or whose test results indicate an elevated BAC. (These provisions are called “implied consent” and “administrative per se,” respectively. ) An elevated BAC can be . 08% or more or . 02% or more if the driver is under age 21. A different procedure that allows for a more immediate suspension applies if the driver has a prior license suspension for a DUI conviction or has been involved in a fatal accident. The law provides for longer administrative suspension periods for someone whose BAC is . 16% or more. These administrative license suspension penalties are in addition to any suspension penalties imposed for conviction of any criminal DUI charge.Someone arrested for certain alcohol related offenses can be ordered by the court to operate only motor vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices as a condition of release on bail or of his or her application for participation in the Pretrial Alcohol Education System. Use of an ignition interlock device (1) may also be substituted for part of the three-year license suspension penalty for certain second DUI criminal offenders, (2) must be imposed as a condition for restoration of a revoked license after a third DUI criminal conviction, and (3) beginning October 1, 2008, must be imposed following the mandatory one-year license suspension following conviction for second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle or second-degree assault with a motor vehicle.
Connecticut law also provides for a Pretrial Alcohol Education Program under which certain eligible offenders charged with DUI may successfully complete an alcohol intervention or substance abuse treatment program, as appropriate, and have the DUI charges dismissed.Anyone who is convicted of DUI, or who has had two or more administrative license suspensions for BAC test failures or refusals must successfully complete a Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)-approved substance abuse treatment program before DMV may restore the person’s suspended license.Someone who holds a commercial driver’s license faces disqualification from driving a commercial motor vehicle if he is found to have: (1) a BAC of . 04% or more while driving a commercial motor vehicle, (2) a BAC of . 08% or more while driving any other type of vehicle, or (3) refused a BAC test whether driving a commercial or noncommercial motor vehicle.Connecticut imposes increased criminal penalties if someone is seriously injured or killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In addition, people found to be “persistent felony offenders” are subject to an increased criminal penalty and the motor vehicles of certain offenders must be impounded for 48 hours.
Connecticut Criminal Penalties for Drunk Driving
In addition to possible license suspension, a person convicted of DUI in Connecticut is subject to the penalties listed below.
Table 1: DUI Criminal Penalties
|Conviction||Prison Sentence||Fine||License Suspension|
|First||Either (a) up to six months with a mandatory minimum of two days or (b) up to six months suspended with probation requiring 100 hours of community service||$ 500- $ 1,000||One year|
|Second||Up to two years, with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days and probation with 100 hours community service||$ 1,000- $ 4,000||Three years (or until age 21 if longer)|
|Third and Subsequent||Up to three years, with mandatory minimum of one year and probation with 100 hours community service||$ 2,000- $ 8,000||Permanent Revocation|
In addition, if the court sentences someone to a period of probation, it may require as a condition of probation that he or she participate in a victim impact panel program approved by the Court Support Services Division. The panel must provide a non-confrontational forum for victims of alcohol or drug related offenses and offenders to share experiences on the impact of alcohol or drug related incidents in their lives. The nonprofit organization that conducts the panel may charge a participation fee of up to $ 25 for any offender ordered to participate.In assessing these penalties, the law considers as a subsequent conviction one that occurs within 10 years of a prior conviction for the same offense. Also, any conviction that occurs in another state for an offense that the court determines has “substantially the same” essential elements as Connecticut’s criminal drunk driving offenses, manslaughter in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle, or assault in the 2nd degree with a motor vehicle will constitute a prior conviction of the same offense for purposes of determining someone’s prior criminal history. (2nd degree manslaughter or assault with a motor vehicle involves driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs.)
The law allows someone whose driver’s license has been revoked following a third conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to seek restoration of driving privileges after six years, provided the commissioner determines it does not endanger public safety, certain requirements are met, and the person submits to installation and use of a vehicle ignition interlock device (PA 07-167).The license suspension under this law is stayed while a conviction is being appealed. For a driver under age 18, the suspension period is until he or she turns 18 or the period listed above, whichever is longer. For drivers driving under a work-only driving permit, suspension periods are doubled. In addition to these penalties, the court can order a driver to participate in an alcohol education and treatment program.2012 Administrative PenaltiesBeginning on January 1, 2012, drivers convicted for their first drunk driving offense in Connecticut are required by law to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a year in order to drive their cars. Such a device requires the driver of a vehicle to blow into it, like a breathalyzer, before the car will start. A conviction also carries with it 45 days of a suspended license, down from the year a driver’s license would have been suspended under the prior law.Connecticut joins 15 other states which require installation of the device after a first conviction of drunk driving with a blood alcohol content of over .08, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. There are 13 states which require installation of the device for drivers convicted with BACs over .15.A driver’s second drunk driving conviction requires he or she have the interlock device installed on his or her vehicle for three years. That driver’s license would also be suspended for 45 days. Prior to January 1, 2012 those convicted for their second drunk driving offense would have their license suspended for a year and would be required to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle for two years.
Connecticut Victims of Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Drunk and Drugged Drivers
Drunk drivers can be held criminally responsible for their decision to drive drunk, and a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the drunk driver enables the victim or victim’s family to hold the driver civilly responsible. Additionally, Connecticut law allows victims of alcohol-related accidents to pursue liability against commercial establishments in certain circumstances, so-called “dram shop” liability. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other establishments as well as social hosts that serve alcohol may have legal responsibility.
Jackson O’Keefe has the knowledge and experience to help if you or a loved one has been the victim of a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk or drugged driver. In addition to assessing and pursuing the legal responsibility of third parties for the loss, we know that sometimes an underinsured or uninsured claim may be necessary against your own insurance company and have the knowledge and experience to pursue such claims for full compensation as well.The firm understands that the injuries suffered in a car accident can be financially and physically devastating. Jackson O’Keefe has the experience, knowledge and resources to help you recover full and fair compensation for all your losses. If you have suffered a personal injury because of the negligence or carelessness of another person, Jackson O’Keefe can take care of your legal concerns while you heal physically and emotionally. Contact the firm to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your personal injury claim.
Jackson O’Keefe handles catastrophic injury claims involving traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury and paralysis, as well as claims for wrongful death.