Have You Been Injured in a DUI Accident in Minnesota?
Any kind of car accident can be terrible, of course. But an accident caused by a drunk driver, one that results in a severe injury – or a tragic death – is even worse. Someone chose to get behind the wheel even though they were so inebriated there was no way they could safely operate a motor vehicle.
Even though the law is designed to provide harsh punishments to people who drive drunk, that’s simply not enough for those who were hurt or lost a loved one. If you were forced to endure suffering due to the actions of a drunk driver, Sand Law may be able to help you obtain the compensation to which you’re entitled.
How Alcohol Affects Your Ability to Drive
There are a lot of ways in which alcohol makes it incredibly dangerous to drive. In particular, it affects not only vision, but also cognitive processes such as reaction time, vision, tracking, concentration, comprehension and coordination. Here’s a very brief explanation of each.
- Vision – Alcohol can really have an impact on a person’s ability to see properly. Not only does it affect the way a person’s eye muscles work, it can even alter the way the eyes move. This can result in blurred vision, and can also affect color perception. Alcohol intake can also impair a person’s ability to see at night.
- Reaction time – Driving a car requires sharp reflexes. Excessive alcohol intake can slow reflexes to the point that someone can’t react properly when something happens while on the road.
- Tracking – This refers to the ability to be able to properly judge where other cars are positioned, or to know the precise location of road signs and lines on pavement.
- Concentration – Alcohol can make a person drowsy, and unable to properly concentrate. They may not be able to pay attention to their surroundings as they would when they were sober.
- Comprehension – When someone is drunk, they typically won’t act rationally due to a lack of proper judgement.
- Coordination – Drunk people have substantially less hand/eye coordination.
Signs That a Drunk Driver Caused Your Car Accident
There are a few ways you’ll be able to tell if the other driver involved in your accident was drinking. The most obvious one is they reek of alcohol, but they may also exhibit slurred speech, or have watery, red eyes. They may also find it hard to concentrate on what you’re saying, or have trouble maintaining their balance.
One of the most effective things an accident victim can do in this instance is to take photos or videos of the inebriated driver if possible. If not, your attorney may be able to uncover clear evidence that the other driver was drunk. There may, for example, be security cameras nearby that not only captured the accident, but also caught images of the drunk driver after they left their automobile.
This kind of evidence is going to be critically important to helping you prove your case, which is what you’ll have to do if your case goes to trial because the insurance company refused to offer you a fair settlement. That’s just one of the many reasons why you’ll need to hire a skilled attorney as soon as you can.
Who is the Average DUI Offender?
A couple of studies look at the profile of the average drunk driver. The results were pretty interesting.
According to one study, the typical DUI offender is a 40–49-year-old man who drives alone, and has a BAC (blood alcohol concentration level) of 1.0%. He’s either married or living with a partner. Men are five times more likely to drive drunk than women, and people who are divorced or widowed are at a much higher risk for being caught drunk driving than someone who is married. In addition, drunk driving arrests occur on Saturday mornings most frequently.
Another study focused on the so-called “hardcore drinking driver,” or HCDD. This person is usually a man between the ages of 25-45, who drives at least once a month with a BAC of .15% or higher. He is less educated, and works in a non-white collar occupation. He also has a history of being unable to hold on to a job. An HCDD has a hard time maintaining either intimate relationships or friendships, as well as a history of domestic violence. HCDDs tend to socialize with others who drink heavily, and also drink and drive.
Holding Minnesota Bars Responsible (“Dram Shop Act”)
Minnesota is one of several states that has what is known as a Dram Shop Act. This basically means that someone who is hurt in an accident involving a drunk driver can sue the establishment that knowingly over-served that driver. It also allows for legal action against anyone who sells alcohol after hours, or sells without a liquor license.
The attorneys with Sand Law are very familiar with this Act, and we know how to take actions against those who indirectly hold responsibility for drunk driving accidents. If this applies to your case, you’ll need to act quickly in order to be able to obtain compensation. Contact us and we can tell you more.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
In 2019, 364 people were killed in Minnesota accidents caused by drunk drivers. More than 27,000 were hurt, but, thankfully, most of these injuries were not serious. The number of deaths decreased by 4% compared to the previous year.
Across the country, drunk driving deaths have decreased as well. However, more than 10,000 people still died needlessly in 2019. This was the lowest percentage of drunk driving deaths since 1982, but a person dies in the U.S. in a drunk driving accident once every 52 minutes.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Minnesota
The legal BAC limit in Minnesota is .08%. However, a person can still be arrested for DUI with a lower BAC. Penalties vary widely. The average penalty for a first-time offender is 30 days in jail and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
If a person is convicted of first-degree DUI, that can result in a fine of up to $14,000, seven years in prison, or both. This crime is a felony in Minnesota. A person can be charged with first-degree DUI if the violation occurs within 10 years after committing three or more DUIs, or has previously been convicted of felony DUI.
DUI Accident Victims Can Get Compensation for Damages
If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to obtain compensation. You may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against the offender to recover damages such as medical bills, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, lost wages and wrongful death, to name a few.
There are also some instances, though rare, where a court will award punitive damages to victims. These damages are far greater, and are meant to punish the offender and dissuade them from driving while drunk ever again.
Contact a Minnesota Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Sand Law has no patience for those who commit this most heinous form of negligence. We fight passionately for the rights of drunk driving accident victims. We’ll let you know what kind of compensation we may be able to help you pursue.