What to do If You’re in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver


Unfortunately, getting in a car accident with a drunk driver is becoming more and more common. It is important to understand your rights both as a driver or passenger involved in an accident with a drunk driver.

In 2016, according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics, over 31% of the fatal car accidents in Arizona were alcohol related. This is a frightening statistic, as it means many of these accidents and deaths could have been avoided if a driver was not intoxicated. What is worse is that people know the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, yet continue to do it.

If you or someone that you know was injured in a car accident because of a drunk driver, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At JacksonWhite we offer a free consultation and guarentee that we will win your case, or you won’t pay. Give us a call at (480) 467-4392 or fill out a form online to start working towards recovering from your accident today.

Legal Alcohol Limit for Driving in Arizona

Arizona has a legal drinking age of 21 years old. Once an individual is 21 years of age, they have the legal right to consume alcohol. However, driving a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal.

In Arizona, an individual over the age of 21 can drive a vehicle if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.08%. Anyone under the age of 21 with a BAC over 0.00% will be charged with a DUI. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC, you will receive a DUI.

After an accident, if there is suspicion of an impaired driver, a police officer may request that you take a breathalyzer test. Any time you are asked to take a breathalyzer or sobriety test, you have the right to say no.  Refusing a breathalyzer may result in your arrest or suspension of your license, but you do have the right to refuse.

A sobriety test is not mandatory and you have the right to refuse. It is recommended to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately after your accident to receive legal advice on how you should proceed.

The following chart, provided by the Arizona Department of Public Safety outlines approximate BAC based on weight and number of drinks consumed. Know your limits to avoid a receiving a DUI or causing an accident due to impaired driving.

Penalties for Driving Drunk in Arizona

With the increase in alcohol related accidents in Arizona, a focus has been placed on enforcing DUI’s and related charges. The table below breaks down the penalties for a DUI for your first three offenses.

Being Involved in a Car Accident with a Drunk Driver

Drunk drivers involved in an accident will face more serious repercussions depending on the outcome of the accident. Fault in an accident will generally lean towards the impaired driver. As the driver at fault in an accident, you will be liable for more damages and your insurance will have the cover the accident. Some insurance policies have impairment clauses that absolves the insurance company of some of the liability due to the driver’s choice to drive impaired.

If you drive drunk and are involved in an accident, you should:

  1. Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney: At this point the police are likely in route to the accident, now is the time to set a game plan so you do not further incriminate yourself.
  2. Call your Insurance: It is helpful to notify your insurance agent quickly after an accident to avoid delays in coverage.
  3. Do NOT speak with the other driver’s insurance: The opposing insurance companies are looking to place all fault on you. Anything you say to their insurance can be twisted and used against you.
  4. Refuse the field sobriety test: Field sobriety tests are not a exact science and many things can go wrong during the administration that can wrongly accuse you of impairment. You also have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but will be taken into custody and your license will be suspended.
  5. If you are arrested, you do not have to speak with anyone (including other inmates): Simply state “I am going to remain silent.”
  6. If you are taken to the hospital for injuries, you do not have to consent to give the police your blood tests: According to HIPPA laws, an officer may not see your medical records without your permission or a warrant granting them access.

If you were hit by a drunk driver, you should:

  1. Call the police immediately after the accident: Any delay between the accident and the police’s arrival allows the driver’s BAC to drop. Be sure to tell the police that you suspect the other driver of drunk driving. This can add to the reasonable cause to solicit a breathalyzer test.
  2. Be observant: It is helpful to watch what the other driver is doing or saying. Some people try to dispose of alcohol bottles or throw up to get the alcohol out of their system.
  3. Take photos of the damages: Insurance companies will use the images to not only determine damages, but can determine fault based on the placement of the damage as well.

Car accidents are a stressful situation for everyone involved. Adding an intoxicated driver into the scenario causes greater frustration and difficulty. Remember to stay calm, make sure everyone is safe, and let the authorities handle the rest.

Suing a Drunk Driver

Accidents involving a drunk driver can have some serious penalties for the driver, including jail time and fines, but they can also face civil charges as well. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a drunk driver, there is recourse. As with all car accidents, a driver has the legal right to file a claim against the other driver for damages not covered by their insurance.

Filing a car accident lawsuit for damages is becoming increasingly more common. People are seeking payment for the damages incurred from the accident, such as: pain and suffering, loss of job or time at work, loss of mobility, etc. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in determining the best course of action to ensure you or your family members receive the justice they deserve.

Dealing with the fallout from a car accident can be burdensome and confusing. If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident with a drunk driver, a successful personal injury attorney can help you determine a strategy for your case and get you the compensation deserved.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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