Despite its draw as a metropolitan hub with much to offer, Houston has the most drunk driving-related fatalities in the state, especially during holidays. That fact may encourage you to be even more vigilant on the road, but you are at risk when other motorists drive drunk. They choose recklessness over responsibility, and when you are injured, they should compensate you.
Driving drunk is a crime, but that will not get you the compensation you need while you recover from your injuries. Drunk driving impairs a person’s reaction time, meaning they often do not brake in an impending crash, making things worse if they crash into you at high speed. You can face steep medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma from your ordeal. A dedicated attorney could handle the legal issues of drunk driving car accidents in Houston.
The Difference Between DUI and DWI
Most people use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably, but they are distinct charges in Texas. The law reserves driving under the influence (DUI) for people younger than 21 caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their system; they do not have to be drunk under the state’s zero-tolerance laws for underage drinking. If the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, a court will charge the young person with a more serious DWI. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) applies to anyone with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
DUI is a Class C misdemeanor if it is a first offense. Drivers usually face fines of up to $500, license suspension, participation in an alcohol or drug intervention program, and 20 to 40 hours of community service.
DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, but charges can increase depending on the driver’s record and the percentage of alcohol in their blood. Drivers face a minimum of 72 hours in jail and fines of up to $2,000 for a first offense. The court will suspend their license and mandate participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program. They will also have to pay additional annual fees of up to $2,000. A skilled attorney in Houston could parlay drunk driving criminal charges into a civil lawsuit seeking a damages award for a driver injured in a collision.
Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving car accidents result from the negligence of the person who acted recklessly, below the standard of a reasonable person in similar circumstances. When the drunk driver causes an accident with injuries to another, they are responsible for compensating the injured person.
Compensation can come from the drunk driver’s insurance company, the driver, and in some cases, under Texas Dram Shop Liability laws, the establishment that allowed an intoxicated driver to continue drinking before the accident. A tenacious attorney in Houston could help determine who is responsible for a drunk driving car crash.
When a jury awards damages to an injured party, members consider economic losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, and non-economic losses, such as the inability of the injured party to enjoy life, what disfigurement is worth, and the chronic pain the plaintiff must endure.
A court could award exemplary damages to punish the drunk driver instead of compensating the injured party. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.003, plaintiffs must clearly and convincingly prove the defendant’s actions were egregious and amount to gross negligence, malice, or fraud. The jury must be unanimous in awarding exemplary damages.
Our Firm Fights for People Injured in Drunk Driving Car Crashes in Houston
You may follow all traffic laws to the letter, staying alert and avoiding erratic drivers, but you can still be hit and suffer injuries. Although you cannot control an irresponsible motorist who drives drunk, you can control what happens next. Begin by calling our law office.
We work tirelessly to get injured people like you the compensation needed to pay for medical care and replace wages lost during recovery. If the drunk driver’s actions were especially egregious, we would seek exemplary damages to dissuade the driver from repeating the act and harming others. Reach out today to discuss your legal options after drunk driving car accidents in Houston.
Below are just some of the more common types of cases that Benjamin Roberts represents personal injury clients.
For a full list of the cases we handle, please see the Practice Areas link at the top of the page.