San Antonio Law Firms – Drunk Driving Statistics
There is not a single DWI lawyer in San Antonio Texas that does not know how bad drunk driving is and what a terrible toll it takes on families and the country at large. Though we may generally understand how awful drunk driving is, looking at some numbers really drives home the message. According to M.A.D.D., in 2012, one person in the U.S. died in a drunk driving related crash every 51 minutes. Here in Texas, someone is either injured or killed in a drunk driving crash every 20 minutes. Even more troubling is that by the time of his or her first arrest, the average drunk driver will have driven drunk at least 80 times without ever being caught, putting countless lives at risk.
San Antonio Criminal Attorney – How much is too much?
A San Antonio DWI attorney can deal in criminal defense too. In Texas and everywhere else in the country, for that matter, the law says that 0.08 percent blood alcohol content is the legal threshold for alcohol impairment. At this point and beyond, a driver is seen to be dangerously impaired and can be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
Though this 0.08 percent BAC applies across the board, underage drivers are held to an even more stringent standard. Those under 21 must abide by Texas’ zero tolerance policy. This says that it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. That means that even a BAC reading of 0.01 percent would be enough to get someone under 21 charged with drunk driving.
There’s yet another number that applies to a third group of drivers: commercial vehicle operators. Those driving tractor-trailers, buses and other commercial vehicles are held to a different standard than both minors and ordinary drivers in passenger vehicles. For this group, a BAC of 0.04 percent is enough to result in drunk driving charges as well as the loss of commercial driving privileges.
Not All San Antonio DWI Lawyers Are Created Equal
DWI lawyers in San Antonio TX are not all the same. The type you search for depends upon technicalities. Which type of lawyer are you looking for? A San Antonio DWI lawyer is not the same as DUI lawyer. In San Antonio Texas a lawyer can handle two different drunk driving cases, Though many people use the terms interchangeably, they are technically different.
The first case is a DWI. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated and this is what those drivers over the age of 21 are charged with when they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater.
The other charge is DUI, which stands for driving under the influence. DUI charges are reserved for drivers under the legal drinking age (21) who are found to be operating a motor vehicle with any measurable blood alcohol content. This is because in Texas there is a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and even a drop of alcohol would result in a violation of the law for those drivers under the age of 21.
Drivers who appear to be intoxicated and are behaving in a way that indicates impairment can also be arrested and charged with either DWI or DUI, regardless of their BAC. This can often be drug related or the result of mixing certain medications with alcohol. While the BAC may not be above 0.08 percent, the person can be impaired and a danger to others.
Are criminal and civil cases connected?
The short answer is no, not at all. Criminal cases and civil cases take place in two entirely different court systems, involving different judges, different lawyers, different arguments and different legal standards. The fact that criminal charges may or may not have been brought against the drunk driver responsible for your injuries has nothing to do with your ability to file a civil suit against him or her. For criminal charges the drunk driver should seek the advice of a San Antonio criminal defense attorney. The two cases are filed and progress completely independent of one another and you are only able to receive monetary compensation for your damages in a civil action.
Why file suit after a drunk driving accident?
If you have been involved in a drunk driving accident, chances are law enforcement has also become involved. The person guilty of the drunk driving was likely arrested and charged with DWI or DUI. As a result, some may question the need for pursuing an additional legal claim against the drunk driver. The reason for this is that the drunk driver has only faced criminal penalties for his or her action, not civil. While the drunk driver must face whatever legal penalties result from the drunk driving charges, a civil suit will include a range of other penalties that the criminal justice system can’t dish out. For example, paying to compensate victims is not something that will happen in a typical criminal case.
In San Antonio Texas can you sue if the defendant is facing criminal charges?
Some people worry that if the drunk driver has been or is in the midst of being prosecuted criminally for his actions, that a civil suit will not be allowed to move forward. This is simply not true. A person can be involved in a criminal and civil case simultaneously as these matters happen in two entirely different court systems. The fact that the person has been involved in a criminal case should in no way prevent you from moving forward with a civil suit for damages, in fact, this will often strengthen your case.
Compensation for drunk driving accident victims
If you do move forward with a civil claim against the responsible drunk driver, what are the things you can sue to recover? Victims of drunk driving accidents are able to sue to receive compensation for whatever harm they may have suffered. This can include medical expenses, doctor’s bills, rehab expenses, future medical treatment, lost wages, property damage, repair costs, pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and disability and disfigurement.
If you, or a loved one, was the victim of a drunk driving accident, contact one of the top San Antonio Lawyers, in Texas. Call us for a free case review today.