Getting into a motor vehicle accident can be shocking and disorienting. Although it may not initially seem clear what caused the crash or who may have been at fault for the accident, you may begin to suspect that the other driver involved in the accident was drunk at the time of the crash.
You may have noticed something odd about how they were driving prior to the collision, or you may notice things about their condition or behavior that make you think they are drunk. But if you wish to pursue a drunk driving accident claim against them to recover compensation for your injuries and losses, how do you prove that the other driver was intoxicated? Fortunately, a Richmond DUI accident lawyer could help you get the full and fair compensation you are owed.
Dangers of Drunk Driving
Driving under the intoxication of alcohol is considered one of the most dangerous things that a driver can do. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Virginia. In 2019 alone, over 7,000 motor vehicle crashes in Virginia involved a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol intoxication impairs a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. A drunk driver may have reduced reaction times, impaired perception and judgment, and decreased inhibition. This makes drunk drivers less likely to maintain full control of their vehicle or to appropriately react to emergencies or situations on the road, as well as more likely to engage in unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating, or running red lights and stop signs.
Proving That a Driver Was Drunk
If another driver involved in a motor vehicle accident with you does not explicitly admit that they were driving under the influence of alcohol, you may need to rely on other evidence to prove that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. This evidence may include:
- Witness testimony regarding the driver’s operation of their vehicle. Behaviors like swerving, failing to stay in the lane, abruptly changing lanes, disregarding traffic controls, or otherwise driving erratically all may indicate the other driver’s intoxication
- Witness testimony regarding the driver’s behavior and condition after the accident. The odor of alcohol, slurred speech, glassy and bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and a staggering gait or inability to maintain balance all serve as signs of alcohol intoxication
- Witness testimony of the driver’s activity prior to the accident, including evidence that the driver had consumed alcohol before the accident
- Failed field sobriety tests administered by a responding police officer
- Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test results
- The other driver’s arrest and/or conviction for DUI
- Police accident reports that assign the cause for the crash to the other driver being intoxicated
Short of the other driver’s admission or their criminal conviction for DUI, you will need to rely on the above evidence to prove that the other driver was drunk at the time of the accident. Fortunately, in a motor vehicle accident claim, you have a lower burden of proof compared to a criminal case to show that the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
Unlike in a criminal case where the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was intoxicated to the point that they could not safely operate a vehicle, in a personal injury claim, you only need to prove that it was more likely than not that the other driver was drunk and that their intoxication caused the accident.
How a Richmond DUI Accident Lawyer Can Help
When you have a drunk driving accident claim, Herbert Maxey can help by:
- Explaining your legal rights, so you know what to expect following the accident
- Investigating the accident, including gathering evidence to help show fault and that the other driver was impaired at the time of the accident
- Hiring expert witnesses who can speak to the extent of your injuries and losses
- Communicating with others on your behalf, such as insurance companies, drivers, and attorneys, in order to protect your rights
- Negotiating aggressively for the full financial compensation you’re due
- Preparing your case for court, in the event that the other side fails to offer a fair settlement
If you’ve been hurt by a drunk driver, contact Richmond car accident lawyer Herbert E. Maxey, Jr., P.C., today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll take the time to listen to your story and help you understand your legal rights and options, so you can make informed decisions. Let us help you pursue justice and financial compensation from the reckless drunk driver that injured you. Call us today at 434-969-4873.