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December is Impaired Driving Awareness Month

drunk driver accident lawyer

As the holiday season quickly approaches, so will a marked increase in drunk driving accidents. A staggering amount of drunk driving fatalities took place in the month of December. According to the National Safety Council, around 400 people in the U.S. will die in impaired driving accidents over the New Year’s holiday.

In light of Impaired Driving Awareness Month, this article provides statistics on drunk driving accidents and offers tips on how to stay safe this holiday season. And with a likely increase in drunk driving accidents this month, we will also go over what you can do if you are involved in a drunk driving accident.

If you have questions about the dangers of drunk driving or need help seeking compensation following a drunk driving accident, reach out to our team of top drunk driving accident lawyers in Akron. We are here to answer all your questions and offer expert advice and assistance on how best to seek the compensation you deserve. 

Call (888) 534-4850 today for a FREE consultation.

Drunk Driving Accidents

Despite years of anti-drunk driving campaigns, impaired driving still remains one of the leading causes of serious car accidents. In fact, driving while under the influence of alcohol remains the second leading cause of car accidents in the U.S. and the #1 cause of traffic-related fatalities. 

According to the NHTSA, drunk driving leads to more than 10,000 deaths annually across the U.S., which translates to over ⅓ of traffic-related fatalities. 

The CDC estimates that drunk or impaired driving kills an average of 29 people daily, causing someone’s death every 50 minutes. 

The FBI found that over 1,000,000 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A recent study found that 6% of drivers admitted to driving under the influence within the last year. In an even more alarming statistic, of those drivers, nearly 41% said that although they drove over the legal limit, they felt they were still okay to drive.

What is Considered Drunk Driving in Ohio?

Every state has drunk driving laws that detail what it considers to be driving under the influence and what the penalties are if caught doing so. In Ohio, a DUI is defined as “operating a vehicle while under the influence” or “OVI.”  

To be convicted of an OVI in Ohio, a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be .08% or more (or a urine alcohol concentration of .11% or more.)

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Akron, Ohio

In an effort to deter motorists from driving while drunk, states impose strict penalties on those convicted of OVI.

Ohio is no different and has severe penalties in place to punish drivers found guilty of operating a vehicle while under the influence. A driver can receive the following penalties if convicted of OVI, depending on whether it is a first conviction or subsequent conviction.

1st Offense

  • 3 days to 6 months in jail
  • Fines between $400 and $1,000
  • A driver’s license suspension of one year

2nd and Subsequent Offenses

  • A minimum of 10 days in jail
  • Fines of at least $500 to a few thousand of dollars
  • A driver’s license suspension of at least a year
  • A substance abuse assessment
  • Any recommended substance abuse programs or treatment

Additional penalties can apply for “aggravated OVI” charges, which is when the driver is found to have had a BAC over .17%.

How to Stay Safe this Holiday Season

With an increased risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident around the upcoming holidays, you might wonder how to keep yourself and your family safe when traveling. Although there is always a chance of becoming a victim of a drunk driver, you can take the following steps to help reduce your risk.

  • Leave early. Since most drunk driving accidents occur between the hours of midnight and 3 am, try to stay off the roads during this time. Plan to leave early and arrive at your destination well before midnight.
  • Plan your route before you drive. Knowing driving directions beforehand will help you stay focused on the road and other drivers.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Keeping your eyes on the road is essential in avoiding any accident. Be sure not to be distracted by your phone, your car’s navigation system, other people in the car, and eating or drinking while driving.
  • Obey all traffic rules. Following the rules of the road, such as following traffic signals, yielding the right of way, and keeping a safe distance between you and other cars, will help avoid the chances of an accident.
  • Decrease your speed. Driving at a reduced speed will increase your ability to react to a drunk driver should they run a red light, swerve into your lane, cross over into oncoming traffic, or crash in front of you.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Staying alert and aware of what is happening around you can help keep you and your passengers safe. Be careful when approaching intersections and look both way before proceeding. Watch for cars crossing over into oncoming traffic, and keep a close eye on drivers who seem to be acting erratically or unable to stay in their lanes.
  • Wear your seatbelt. If, despite your best efforts, you are involved in a car accident, wearing your seatbelt will increase your chances of avoiding serious injury. Before beginning your journey, make sure you and everyone else in the car has their seatbelt on.

What You Can Do After a Drunk Driving Accident

Sadly, taking measures to stay safe on the road this holiday season doesn’t completely diminish the chances of being involved in a drunk driving accident. 

If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver, you do have rights. Although the driver will likely face criminal charges, you, as an injured victim, still have the right to file a civil lawsuit for damages. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you might be able to recover damages, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Wrongful death damages

Although they are not commonly awarded, a victim may also receive punitive damages. These damages aren’t aimed at compensating the victim. Rather, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for especially harmful or egregious acts and set an example of the wrongdoer to deter others from acting similarly. 

Contact Slater & Zurz Today for FREE

For drunk driving accident victims, the aftermath of their crashes is especially devastating. Feelings of anger and frustration over the senselessness of their accident and subsequent injuries only work to compound the pain they are experiencing.

The personal injury attorneys at Slater & Zurz are strong advocates of drunk driving awareness. Our car accident lawyers work hard to protect the rights of drunk-driving victims in Akron. Our drunk driving accident attorneys hold intoxicated drivers to the highest level of accountability and fight for maximum financial compensation to help our clients recover and deter a drunk driver from ever endangering the lives of others again.