By Andrew R. Bronsnick
We previously discussed the need for caution and safety when it comes to alcohol, company parties and the holidays. But let’s consider New Jersey’s DWI (driving while intoxicated) statistics more broadly and how they impact you.
Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher (i.e., drunk drivers) are considered alcohol-impaired by law. Conventional wisdom suggests that your BAC level will remain within safe limits if you consume only one standard drink per hour. As defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a standard drink is half an ounce of alcohol. That means a standard drink could be one:
- 12-ounce beer
- five-ounce glass of wine,
- 5-ounce shot of distilled spirits each count as one standard drink.
The above are merely general guidelines and alcohol affects everyone differently. Your age, weight, metabolism, and the medications you might be taking (along with other characteristics), in addition to the strength of the drink itself will impact your intoxication level. For example, a true serving of wine is really only a fraction of a glass – certainly not a full one that you’d receive from a diner.
In New Jersey, a person commits a DWI offense if he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, or if they drive with an open alcoholic beverage container. Considering that and the definition of “one drink,” how many people do you know – including yourself – who have driven while impaired? The answer is likely hundreds. In fact, the CDC proved so with a survey of New Jerseyans in 2012.
Between 2003 and 2012, the CDC reported that 1,816 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in New Jersey. The numbers haven’t changed much since then. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ranked New Jersey eighth-highest in DWI casualty rates in the U.S. with 137 in 2016.
DWI Accident Victims
So what should you do if you are hit by a driver who happens to be drunk? After calling the police or emergency services, try to have someone take pictures of the scene immediately and attempt to document:
- The exact location of impact.
- What traffic signals and lights may have been nearby, including the speed limit sign.
- The condition of the road and sidewalk.
- Other factors that may have influenced the impact, like weather.
Additionally, try not to engage in a dialogue with the other party. Even admitting that you weren’t immediately injured may be used against you, should you have a delayed injury. Wait for the police to arrive to make any statements.
Remember that an injury suit is different than a criminal trial – it involves the driver’s insurance and possibly their estate. You’re not seeking jail time for the offender– you’re seeking compensation for medical, property, physical or emotional damages,
If you were a pedestrian or driver injured by a motorist who seems inebriated, do not assume that your case will be easy to prove. Pedestrians have an obligation to abide by all traffic laws and exercise reasonable care for their own safety, and insurance defense lawyers may employ a courtroom strategy to show how you might have jumped or darted in front of the driver.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause death and various catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones, paralysis, burns, permanent scarring or disfigurement, and amputation or loss of limb.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an auto accident or DWI collision in New Jersey, you need an experienced lawyer to communicate with the insurance companies, investigate the cause of the incident, obtain videos and cell phone records, identify witnesses, prove who was at fault and properly evaluate and present your injuries to ensure you receive maximum compensation.