On Wednesday, the Boone County Sheriff's Department announced plans for a "special sobriety enforcement" to be conducted sometime this week, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. The Department plans to organize a saturation patrol (where multiple officers patrol a designated stretch of roadway to scout for drunk drivers), a sobriety checkpoint, or both. Our Missouri car accident lawyers know that there's some disagreement about the effectiveness of measures like these: however, if even a single drunk driver is deterred, multiple lives can be saved.
It's not a secret that drinking and driving is illegal, and that it can result in both criminal and civil consequences, particularly when someone is injured or killed because of a drunk driver's actions. The aftermath of such an accident is life-altering for all parties involved.
Recently, in Kansas City, a 19 year-old man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to 2 counts of involuntary manslaughter. On July 4, 2011, Felix Solano-Gallardo's blood alcohol content (BAC) was twice the legal limit when he drove the wrong way on both I-70 and I-435 for over 14 miles: at least 9 drivers called 911 to report his vehicle, and police believe he ran 1 vehicle off the road on I-70. Eventually, on I-435, he collided with another vehicle head-on. 44 year-old Diane Bronson and her 11 year-old daughter Anna were killed in that crash.
Solano-Gallardo was also seriously injured, and only recently stopped using a wheelchair. He does not have documentation to legally reside in the United States, and initially refused to give police his name following the crash. After serving his sentence, he will be deported to Mexico. In his statement to the judge, according to The Kansas City Star, Solano-Gallardo expressed remorse for his actions. Using an interpreter, he said, "I am aware I caused a lot of harm. Honestly, I wish none of this had ever happened. What happened to this woman and her little girl hurt me as if they were my own family."
Some drivers don't think twice about driving after drinking. Indeed, drinking and driving is so dangerous because alcohol drastically impairs your brain's cognitive functions - meaning it keeps you from making good decisions. So, if you plan to drink, plan not to drive. And if you see a friend attempt to drive when you know he or she has been drinking, do something to intervene. Consider the scope of this tragedy for the Bronson family, and even for Solano-Gallardo. It cannot be measured.
When someone is killed by a drunk driver, there are numerous legal and financial ramifications, including criminal charges and penalties. The family of the victim can also sue the driver (or the driver's estate) in civil court to recover financial compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one. Damages are awarded to try to make the family "whole" in the eyes of the law. In addition, depending on the circumstances, punitive damages may be awarded to punish bad acts (like drinking and driving), and to deter future bad behavior.
• Medical expenses
• Funeral and burial expenses
• Lost wages
• Lost benefits
• Loss of consortium (companionship)
"Dram shop" laws also permit the family of drunk driving victims to sue and recover from a bar, restaurant, or other establishment that served the drunk driver alcohol and allowed him or her to drive away from the establishment.
The bottom line: the consequences of drinking and driving are numerous and far-reaching. It is never ever, worth the risk.
Information provided courtesy of Aaron Sachs and Associates.
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