Of the 387 people killed in car accidents in Minnesota in 2013, 21% involved drunk driving. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 2,300 people were injured in a crash involving alcohol. When individuals choose to drink and drive, they put everyone else’s safety at grave risk. The best way to prevent drunk driving accidents, injuries, and fatalities is to avoid drinking and driving in the first place.
Yet, what are the signs that another driver may be under the influence-and what can you do?
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there are many signs that a driver may have had too much to drink. Some common behaviors of drunk drivers include:
- Weaving inside a lane or across the road
- Sudden braking or speeding
- Signaling improperly
- Sudden stops due to failure to notice stop signs or lights
- Driving at night with headlights off
- Driving much more slowly than the speed limit
If you notice these behaviors, what can you do? According to MADD, drivers should always put their safety first. Stay as far away as possible from these vehicles. Gather as much information about the car as possible, including make, model, color, and license plate number-but only if you can do so without putting your safety at risk. When it is safe to do so, pull over, call 911, and report the incident so that the correct drunk driving penalties can be applied.
If you’ve been in an accident involving a drunk driver, there are many protections afforded to you under the law. For instance, you have rights and protections to make a personal injury claim and to seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. According to the Law Office of Martin T. Montilino, drivers who have been involved in an accident with a drunk driver still have to prove that the other driver was at fault or more negligent in causing the accident. Both parties will need legal representation to fight their cases for them. Whilst the innocent driver would probably contact a personal injury lawyer, the defendant would want to contact a criminal defense lawyer, like Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney At Law, for example. This should help the defendant to try and get a more appropriate sentence if they’re found guilty of driving under the influence. If the drunk driver is arrested or if the drunk driver is involved in a criminal case, you may be entitled to access certain victim’s funds for money that your insurance won’t cover.
Finally under dram shop laws, bars, restaurants, and other establishments are not legally allowed to serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated people. If you can prove that the establishment served alcohol illegally to the person who then went on to cause your accident, you may be entitled to receive additional compensation under a dram shop claim.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you may have only a limited amount of time to seek compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Minnesota’s statute of limitations laws limit the amount of time you have to collect money or to sue. It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following your accident so that proper legal proceedings can be initiated. Your lawyer can inform you about your rights, and help you protect yourself and your loved ones under the fullest extent of the law.