Robust drunk driving laws have helped to reduce driving under the influence, or DUI accidents, and fatalities. Unfortunately, alcohol-related accidents still account for almost one-third of all fatal crashes in Arizona, and nearly 30 people die every day in the U.S. because of the reckless actions by those who choose to drive under the influence. If you or a loved one got injured in a drunk driving accident, the experienced attorneys of the Kelly Law Team insert link will aggressively work to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Arizona Drunk Driving Laws
Drunk driving deaths have fallen by almost one-third since the 1980s in large part to the strict enforcement of DUI laws.
- You must be 21 years old to consume alcohol in Arizona.
- Arizona’s “zero tolerance” law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
- It is illegal in all 50 states to drive a vehicle with a BAC over 0.08%.
- Drivers of commercial vehicles cannot drive if their BAC is above 0.04%.
The penalties for impaired driving in Arizona depend on a number of circumstances:
- Age of the driver (under or over 21 years old)
- Blood alcohol concentration
- Presence of a child in the car
- Injuries sustained by passengers or other drivers
- History of DUIs
- Type of vehicle (e.g., commercial vehicles)
Depending on the circumstances, a driver may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and receive the following punishments:
- Jail or prison time
- Fines and court fees
- Installation of a mandatory ignition interlock device
- Suspension of license
In addition to criminal penalties, drunk drivers may also be civilly liable for injuries they cause, including injuries to people and property damage.
What To Do If You’ve Been in a Drunk Driving Accident?
- Call the police. Get the police on scene as soon as possible and report your suspicions that the other driver is impaired. A person’s BAC will drop when they stop drinking, so the longer you wait, the greater the chances that the driver’s BAC may decrease. Calling the police will also ensure that other emergency personnel arrive quickly to provide any necessary medical attention.
- Keep an eye on the driver. After the accident, observe the other driver’s behavior and document anything out of the ordinary by writing it down or taking a photograph. Emotions run high after an accident and memories fade, so documenting important information will ensure you have an accurate record of your immediate post-accident observations.
- Photos and witnesses. Take photographs of the accident scene, any property damage and injuries. Obtain contact information for witnesses to the accident.
- Contact an attorney. While you may not be the party at fault, an experienced accident attorney can help you navigate the emotional and confusing process of receiving compensation for your injuries, and most attorneys offer free consultations.
- Be wary of insurance companies. You will need to report the accident to your insurance company, but we always advise that you speak with an attorney first. Most importantly, never give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting with an attorney. The adjuster’s job is to minimize their client’s liability, so they will do their best to use your statements against you, which could reduce your settlement value.
While all of these tips are important, remember that your health and the health of your passengers should be your top priority. Make sure to seek medical attention immediately if needed and follow your doctor’s recommendations. Completing all recommended courses of treatment will be an essential part of establishing damages in a civil case.
What Happens to the Driver?
If a police officer suspects a driver is impaired, they may request that the driver take a breathalyzer or sobriety test. While a driver can refuse the tests, refusing a breathalyzer test will result in the automatic revocation of a driver’s license. If the police determine the driver was driving under the influence, the driver will be arrested and taken into police custody. If they sustained any injuries, they might be transported to a nearby medical center for treatment.
Depending on the severity of the charges, the driver may face jail time, fines, revocation or suspension of their license, and the installation of a mandatory ignition interlock device.
Filing Suit Against a Drunk Driver
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or damage to your property because of a drunk driver, you may be able to sue the driver for compensation to recover the damages you sustained. These damages, also known as “compensatory” damages, include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Future wages
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are another form of damages imposed by the courts to punish a person for a specific behavior and prevent them from repeating it in the future. Punitive damages are not imposed to compensate a party for their injuries and only assessed under rare and particularly egregious circumstances.
How Will I Get Paid?
Insurance coverage for drunk driving accidents can be complicated, and it is best to wait to settle any case until after the at-fault driver is convicted of a DUI. There may be policy limits for DUI injuries, and your settlement may include a combination of payouts from your insurance company and the drunk driver’s insurance company (if they are insured). A skilled Phoenix drunk driving attorney is equipped to help you map out the best plan for your case and investigate multiple ways to obtain compensation. Remember that insurance companies are looking to shift liability and settle quickly for the lowest amount, so do not agree to anything before consulting with an attorney.
Under Arizona’s dram shop law, a bar, restaurant or other venues may be liable for negligently serving or selling alcohol to a minor or a person who was already intoxicated. Filing suit against one of these entities may be another avenue to collect compensation for your injuries.
DUIs and Drugs
While the focus of this page is driving under the influence of alcohol, remember that driving under the influence of drugs (legal or illegal) is also punishable as a DUI in Arizona.
The experienced and compassionate attorneys of the Kelly Law Team have successfully represented victims of drunk driving accidents and helped them to recover the compensation they deserve. Call now for a free consultation at 602-283-4122.