Dallas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
Drunk driving collisions often involve a number of dangerous driving behaviors. Drunkenness may serve as the overarching factor in a pattern of reckless driving behaviors. People who get behind the wheel after drinking too much lose the ability to react quickly, to perceive their surroundings normally, and to gauge safety. As a result, they speed, swerve, run stop lights, and contribute to serious and deadly collisions.
At the Law Office of Stephen W. Shoultz, we are committed to fighting against drunk driving and advocating for those injured in DUI-related collisions. We will pursue justice and fair compensation for anyone who has suffered at the hands of a careless drunk driver.
What Makes Drunk Driving Collisions So Dangerous?
Drunk drivers are mentally and physically impaired. Many fail to see their own degree of impairment before they get behind the wheel. They “feel” okay or assume that they have no other alternative. Once on the roadway, a fraction of a second delay in reaction times and decision making can quickly turn into a life-threatening incident.
While these collisions occur most often in the evenings and overnight, a drunk driving collision can happen at any time of day. Driving safely and defensively may not protect you from injury in these serious collisions—although it can protect your right to full compensation. In their impaired states, drunk drivers may cross over medians, spin out of control, and collide with other vehicles at high rates of speed. Drunk driving intensifies every other reckless and illegal driving activity.
In criminal cases, these types of car collisions can result in aggravated DWI charges if the driver’s BAC level exceeded .015, if the driver seriously injured or killed someone, if the driver was transporting a child under 15, or if the driver has a prior record of DWI. In civil cases, proving drunk driving as a negligent action allows collision victims to obtain compensation for all financial, physical, and mental losses.
Texas Drunk Driving Statistics
To understand the problem of drunk driving, consider the 2015 statistics on drunk driving in the state and in the city of Dallas:
- The majority of drivers in fatal DUI crashes were under age 40. 8.58% were under 21, 21.67% were between ages 21 and 25, and 17.83% were between ages 26 and 30.
- Most DUI related collisions happen between 2:00 and 2:59 a.m. Most also occur on Saturdays.
- The city of Dallas recorded 50 fatalities, 106 incapacitating injuries, and 271 non-incapacitating injuries.
- 639 drunk drivers, 154 passengers of drunk drivers, 124 individuals in non-drunk driver vehicles, and 43 pedestrians and bicyclists died in drunk driving incidents across the state.
- Of all contributing factors, drunk driving remains one of the deadliest in collisions across the state.
These statistics showcase the dangerous nature of drunk driving. The risk of dying or experiencing an incapacitating injury at the hands of a drunk driver is high. Drunk drivers involved in these cases must live with the knowledge of their negligence, face criminal prosecution, and face civil damages in resulting personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Our firm uses these statistics to frame drunk driving cases in the larger picture. Holding each drunk driver responsible for his or her actions makes a difference on our roadways. We hope that each driver we hold accountable seeks help and avoids repeat violations in the future.
Texas Laws and Legal Proceedings Governing Drunk Driving Collisions
Texas uses a modified comparative negligence guideline to determine negligence in every personal injury case. During the case, the courts will consider the careless and illegal behaviors of both parties and assign a percentage of fault. Those who are more than 50% at fault for an collision cannot recover any compensation in a personal injury claim.
In most drunk driving cases, a BAC level and other cited dangerous driving behaviors place blame almost entirely on drunk drivers. However, our attorneys are prepared to protect our clients’ rights in cases involving defendants who try to throw out BAC test results on technicalities. After an injury in a drunk driving collision, you will need an attorney who understands the complexities of drunk driving in the Texas legal system.
The following drunk driving laws may come into play during the course of any drunk driving collision case:
- Dram shop laws. Some states, including Texas, allow injured individuals to hold alcohol vendors responsible for resulting injuries. If someone drinks him or herself senseless at a bar, for instance, and the establishment allows that individual to leave without at least attempting to secure a reasonable alternative, the establishment may bear legal responsibility for the resulting injuries.
Texas dram shop laws, under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2, allow plaintiffs to take action against third parties if:
- The vendor provided alcohol to a minor under 18.
- The consumer was clearly too drunk to function normally.
In addition to these stipulations, the plaintiff must also prove that intoxication was a direct cause of injury. A plaintiff may take similar actions against a social host if the host provided alcohol to a guest under the age of 18 or allowed that person to drink.
- BAC laws. In Texas, drivers 21 and older will receive a DWI if their BAC level is .08% or higher. Commercial drivers will receive a DWI for a BAC level of .04% or higher. The state practices a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21.
- DWI penalties. Those criminally charged with DWI may face fines, license suspension, prison time, DWI school and educational programs, mandatory community service hours, and insurance price spikes.
- Civil claims vs. criminal claims. A criminal claim will hold a drunk driver responsible for breaking the law, but it will not offer the victim closure or compensation after an injurious collision. A civil claim allows injured individuals to hold DWI drivers financially responsible for the injuries and losses that they have caused.
The state will not pursue a civil claim on your behalf. You must secure the services of a personal injury attorney to protect your right to compensation. Plaintiffs may file civil suits even if a criminal case is pending.
- Punitive or exemplary damages. In extreme drunk driving cases, you may have the opportunity to ask for punitive damages in addition to compensation for your losses. Punitive damages allow plaintiffs to secure damages to punish the defendant for his or her actions.
What to Do After a Drunk Driving Collision
If you are involved in an collision and you suspect drunk driving, take the following steps to protect your right to compensation in a personal injury claim:
- Assess your injuries. If you can, check on others involved in the collision. Do not try to move if you are seriously injured.
- Contact emergency services. If you can reach your phone, call 911 and explain the situation. Do not attempt to leave the scene of the collision before speaking with a police officer. Let the emergency professionals know if you have reason to believe that the other driver was drunk.
- Document the scene. If you have a smartphone, take pictures of your injuries, your vehicle, and the scene. Record video of interactions with others if you can, and avoid talking about anything unless you are sure 100% the statement is correct. Many individuals inaccurately remember circumstances after an collision, and making an erroneous statement could affect your ability to recover full compensation.
- Seek medical attention. After an collision, the adrenaline pumping through your system may keep you from feeling the full extent of your injuries. You may not experience symptoms for days or weeks after the incident. Always seek medical attention and record any symptoms you experience after the incident.
- Follow the criminal case and reach out to a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney who has experience in handling drunk driving collisions will help you collect the information needed to move forward with an injury claim. Keep all criminal case records to strengthen your civil claim.
The severity of the collision may prevent you from taking these actions after a drunk driving incident. Do not worry about collecting evidence if you are bleeding profusely. Focus on receiving medical care first and foremost. Contact a Dallas, TX attorney as soon as you can to explore your legal options—particularly if you suffered an incapacitating injury or if your loved one died in a drunk driving incident.
Finding a Drunk Driving Collision Attorney
At the Law Office of Stephen W. Shoultz, we recognize the statewide drunk driving problem. We see how drunk driving affects innocent lives on a daily basis, and we want to serve as your compassionate and supportive advocate. From helping you find qualified medical care to negotiating with insurance representatives and bill collectors on your behalf, we will help you start a path to recovery as your legal representatives.
Our firm can help you secure compensation to cover costs associated with your injury, including:
- Medical expenses, including rehabilitation, maintenance medications, and supplies
- Lost wages and future income
- Lost quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
Unfortunately, we cannot remove the memories of a drunk driving collision or undo the physical pain that you have suffered. Our attorneys will, however, work diligently to ensure that you receive the best outcome possible after everything you have experienced.
Do not wait to contact an attorney after an collision. Securing evidence and proving the elements of drunk and reckless driving will strengthen our case against a careless drunk driver or a negligent vendor. Our experienced attorneys will start working on your case immediately so you can get back to your life as soon as possible. For a free consultation, contact our Dallas, TX office today.