Recognizing and Recovering Damages From DUI Accidents

Denver car accident lawyer R. Mack Babcock discusses driving under the influence and how you can spot a drunk driver before it's too late

There’s no question, car accidents caused by drunk driving is the #1 type of “preventable” accident on the road. While many car accidents are just that, accidents, others come about due to a reckless act on the part of another driver. Drunk driving, or DUI accidents, is just one example.

Warnings about the dangers of drunk driving are quite common. No one can forget stories of young children, teens or even adults being killed by a drunk driver. The fact that DUI penalties are pretty stringent in Colorado doesn’t stop some from getting behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.

One reason of course is the fact that alcohol and drug use reduces inhibitions and alters decision making – while a driver may think they’re okay, they very well may not be.

In Colorado, a driver is considered to be legally drunk when they have blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher – if a person gets behind the wheel and has a BAC of that level or higher, they are technically guilty of DUI.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit?

There’s no definitive answer to this question – it depends on many factors. A person’s weight plays a big role, but other factors like tolerance play a big role as well.

For a 180-pound person, 5 drinks yields a BAC of 0.09 according to charts published by both government agencies and private legal organizations (…a drink is considered 1 beer, 1 three ounce glass of wine, 1 shot or 1-ounce of hard liquor).

If a driver is pulled over and administered a sobriety test and is over the limit, they are technically guilty of DUI and placed under arrest. Penalties depend on the case, but for a first offense, there is a minimum 5-days jail time in Colorado. However, jail time can be waived if the driver attends an alcohol treatment program.

Other penalties include fines and driver license suspension.

Additional DUI offenses carry harsher penalties, including more jail time, longer license suspension and even an ignition locking device that prevents the driver from starting the vehicle (after license reinstatement) if they’re drunk.

Even though the legal penalties for DUI are pretty stiff, some drivers still drive drunk – sometimes, the consequences are fatal…

If you're driving, it's important to recognize the signs of drunk driving. If you're the driver, get OFF the road immediately if you notice yourself doing the following. If you're another driver, call the Colorado State Patrol or your local police if you see the following signs of possible DUI:

  • Straddling the center lane
  • Going off the shoulder of the road
  • Following too closely
  • Almost hitting another vehicle or object
  • Erratic braking
  • Driving at excessively low or high speeds
  • Driving without headlights
  • Taking extremely wide turns
  • Stopping at green lights, crosswalks and other inappropriate places

These signs don’t always mean the driver is drunk, but often times it does – if you see another driver exhibiting these behaviors, call the Colorado State Patrol at either Star-DUI (*384) or Star-CSP (*277), or contact the local police (911 would certainly qualify in this case).

I’ve been in an accident caused by a drunk driver – how will they be held responsible for their actions and my expenses, damages, lost wages, pain and suffering

If an intoxicated driver causes an accident, they can be held responsible – both criminally and in civil court.

Colorado law states that an injured driver, or the family of a deceased driver/passenger, is entitled to file a claim for damages. Any suit must be filed within 3 years in most cases.

Besides compensation for medical costs, property damage and lost wages, punitive damages can also be imposed on the offending driver. These damages are reserved for few legal areas and are meant to reform or defer the defendant from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

If a driver or passenger is killed in an accident caused by a driver under the influence, the immediate family can file a wrongful death suit to obtain damages.

In the end, recognizing the signs of DUI beforehand is preferable to a collision.

If you’ve been drinking, call a cab or have a designated driver to get you home safely. If you’re on the road and see the signs of a drunk driver, do not hesitate to contact the CSP or your local police

And if you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it’s important you discuss your case as soon as practically possible after attending to your immediate medical needs. Denver DUI attorney R. Mack Babcock and associates at the Babcock Law Firm aggressively represent accident victims to ensure you receive just compensation for your expenses, or loss.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation and discuss your individual case today.

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