Proving Impairment in an Accident Can Potentially Help You Achieve More Compensation
Being involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience. In addition to the physical injuries you may have sustained, you may also be blind-sided by serious financial hardship due to lost wages and medical expenses. If the police report does not conclusively indicate that the other driver was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you may be wondering how you can prove that they were impaired.
Even if the police report does not indicate that the other driver was under the influence, you may still be able to prove that they were impaired and obtain compensation for your injuries. By gathering and presenting evidence of the other driver’s impairment, you can increase your chances of winning your case and avoiding devastating financial blows.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, it is important to seek legal help immediately. An experienced law firm, like the legal team at The Millar Law Firm can help you gather evidence, file a claim, and negotiate a settlement. With the right representation, you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.
Georgia Law Enforcement Officers May Help Prove Your DUI Accident Case
Many of Georgia’s law enforcement officers have received specialized training in detecting and evaluating drug-impaired drivers. They use a multi-step protocol to assess a driver’s physical and mental condition, including their eyes, coordination, reflexes, and speech. Officers can also collect samples of the driver’s blood, urine, or saliva for further testing.
The evaluation can be used to improve compensation in a DUI accident in several ways.
- First, it can help to establish that the driver was impaired by drugs at the time of the accident. This is important because it can show that the driver was not in control of their vehicle and was therefore negligent.
- Second, the police officer’s evaluation can help to determine the specific drug(s) that the driver was using. This information can be helpful in proving that the driver’s impairment caused or contributed to the accident.
- Additionally, the evaluation can be used to credibly refute any claims by the driver that they were not impaired or that their drug use did not affect their driving. A law enforcement officer’s testimony is often considered to be highly credible by juries, so it can be a valuable asset in a personal injury lawsuit.
It is important to note that an officer’s evaluation is not always foolproof. There are some drugs that can be difficult to detect, and the opinion can be challenged in court. However, the DUI test or evaluation is another very valuable tool that can be used to improve the chances of success in a personal injury lawsuit involving a DUI accident.
Testing for Impairment can Dramatically Change a Car Accident Settlement
Testing done at the scene of the accident and other blood alcohol tests done in a hospital setting or while the suspected at-fault driver is in custody can make all the difference in a DUI/DWI insurance settlement.
- These tests can be used to help establish fault. In Georgia, as in many other states, driving under the influence (DUI) is considered negligence per se, which means that the driver is presumed to be at fault for the accident, regardless of other factors. This is because driving while impaired is considered to be a reckless and intentional act that creates a high risk of harm to others.
- BAC test results can also increase the amount of compensation owed by the drunk or drugged driver who caused the wreck. In addition to being found at fault, the driver who was under the influence may also be held liable for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the driver for their reckless behavior. Punitive damages can be significant. In Georgia, punitive damages awarded against a drunk driver are not subject to the State’s $250,000 cap on punitive damages. In other words, punitive damages awarded against intoxicated drivers are not capped.
- The test results can make it more difficult for the driver to defend themselves. It is much more difficult for a driver who was under the influence to argue that they were not negligent. This is because the DUI/DWI test provides clear evidence that the driver was impaired at the time of the accident.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a DUI (driver intoxicated on illegal drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol) driver, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your legal team can help you to understand how DUI/DWI tests can affect your case and to build a strong case for compensation.
Punitive Damages and Alcohol or Drug Impairment
In Georgia, punitive damages may be awarded in a car accident case if the at-fault driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol and their impairment was a contributing factor to the accident. Punitive damages in Georgia, are normally capped at $250,000 over and above other compensation. However, when the at-fault driver is intoxicated, there is no limit on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded.
To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was malicious, reckless, or wanton. Driving under the influence to the point of impairment is generally presumed to be intentional, reckless and dangerous conduct that justifies an award of punitive damages.
It can be difficult, but punitive damages can be awarded in Georgia if the at-fault driver in an accident is proven to be impaired. In order for this to happen, the plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant’s conduct was malicious, reckless, or wanton in order to be awarded punitive damages.
Our DUI Accident Lawyers Can Help Prove Whether a Driver’s Impairment Contributed to the Accident
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who may have been impaired by alcohol or drugs, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. In some cases, this evidence can help you prove that the other driver acted wantonly or recklessly making additional punitive damages possible in addition to your other damages.
There are a number of things you can do to gather evidence that the other driver was drunk or high at the time of the accident. Here are some pieces of evidence that can be gathered following an accident that might involve alcohol or drugs to prove that the at-fault driver acted wantonly or recklessly:
- Witness statements: If there were any witnesses to the accident, they may be able to testify that the other driver acted erratically or seemed to be impaired. For example, they may have seen the driver swerving in and out of traffic, driving too fast, or failing to yield the right of way.
- Police report: The police report may include information about the other driver’s behavior at the scene of the accident, such as whether they appeared to be intoxicated, unduly belligerent, or under the influence of drugs.
- Toxicology reports: If the other driver was arrested for DUI, they will likely have been given a blood or urine test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC) or the presence of drugs in their system. If their BAC or drug levels were high, this is strong evidence that they were impaired at the time of the accident.
- Photographs of the accident scene: Photographs of the accident scene may show skid marks, debris, or other evidence that the other driver was driving recklessly.
- Video footage of the accident: If the accident happened in an area with traffic cameras or was captured on someone’s dashcam, this footage may also be used as evidence.
While there will likely be tests done at the accident scene to determine whether or not the at-fault driver may have been impaired, first responders may make observations that will also help establish impairment. Here are some things that the police may look for when trying to determine if someone is drunk at the scene of an accident:
- Behavior: The police may look for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, difficulty walking, or glassy eyes. They may also look for erratic behavior, such as driving too fast or too slow, swerving in and out of traffic, or failing to yield the right of way.
- Appearance: The police may look for signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath, or the presence of an open container of alcohol in the car. They may also look for physical signs of intoxication, such as flushed skin or bloodshot eyes.
- Witness statements: The police may interview witnesses to the accident to see if they saw anything that indicates that the driver was drunk. Witnesses may be able to testify that the driver was slurring their speech, stumbling, or seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.
If the police have probable cause to believe that the driver is drunk, they may arrest them and take them to the police station for a chemical test. However, even if the police do not arrest the driver, they can still use the evidence they gathered at the scene of the accident in the courtroom in order to prove that the driver was drunk
It is important to note that the police are not always able to prove that someone is drunk at the scene of an accident. If the driver is able to pass a field sobriety test and does not have a high BAC, the police may not be able to charge them with DUI. However, even if the police are not able to prove that the driver was drunk, they may still be able to prove that the driver was negligent and liable for the accident.
How Georgia Police Officers Perform DUI/DWI Tests
Law enforcement officers in Georgia are rigorously trained to perform field sobriety tests in a standardized manner. The standardized administration of field sobriety tests is important for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure that the tests are conducted fairly and consistently. Second, it helps to ensure that the results of the tests are reliable and admissible in court. Third, it helps to protect the rights of the driver being tested and the rights of accident victims whose injuries may have been caused by the at-fault driver’s negligence.
In Georgia, law enforcement officers are required to be trained in the administration of these tests as developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NHTSA. The training is typically provided by the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Three common tests are:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test: This test looks for involuntary eye movements that are a sign of intoxication.
- The Walk and Turn (WAT) test: This test assesses a driver’s balance and coordination.
- The One-Leg Stand (OLS) test: This test also assesses a driver’s balance and coordination.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Tests
In addition to Field Sobriety Tests, police officers may well include the following screening tests to establish impairment.
Perhaps the most common field sobriety testing device is the Breathalyzer. Breathalyzers are machines used to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath. They do this by using a chemical reaction that produces a current. The amount of current produced is proportional to the amount of alcohol in the breath.
In Georgia, a breathalyzer reading of 0.08% or higher is considered evidence of impairment. However, a breathalyzer reading below 0.08% does not necessarily mean that a driver is not impaired. There are many factors that can affect a person’s BAC, including their weight, gender, and how much food they have eaten.
It is also important to note that breathalyzer devices must be calibrated regularly to ensure that they are accurate. This is done by using a known concentration of alcohol to generate a standard current. The breathalyzer is then adjusted until it produces the same current.
If a breathalyzer is not calibrated properly, it may produce inaccurate results. This can happen if the machine is not properly maintained, if the chemicals are not fresh, or if the machine is not used properly.
When an at-fault driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the breathalyzer doesn’t confirm impairment, it may be that the machine is not properly calibrated. At such times, your attorney will probably challenge the accuracy of the results. Your attorney can hire an expert to examine the breathalyzer and determine if it was properly calibrated. If the breathalyzer was not calibrated properly, the results may be inadmissible in court.
If a person’s breathalyzer test results are inconclusive, borderline, or if there are other factors that suggest that the test may not be accurate, the arresting officer may request a blood test. A blood test is considered to be more accurate than a breathalyzer test, and it can be used to confirm the results of the breathalyzer test.
In some cases, the arresting officer may not request a blood test even if the person’s breathalyzer test results are high. This is because blood tests are more invasive than breathalyzer tests, and they can be more expensive. The arresting officer may also decide not to request a blood test if the person is cooperative and does not appear to be impaired.
It is also important to be aware that a blood test for alcohol impairment can be influenced by the time that elapsed between drinking and testing. The amount of alcohol in a person’s blood will decrease over time as the body metabolizes it. This means that a blood test taken shortly after drinking will likely show a higher BAC than a blood test taken several hours later.
For example, if someone drinks a beer and then gets a blood test immediately afterwards, their BAC may be 0.08%. If they get a blood test 2 hours later, their BAC may be 0.04%. This is because the body will have had time to metabolize some of the alcohol.
The amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize alcohol can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the person’s weight, gender, and liver function. In general, it takes about 1 hour for the body to metabolize 1 standard drink.
A blood test for alcohol impairment can be greatly influenced by the time that elapsed between the intake of alcohol and the actual blood test. If the at-fault driver underwent a blood test several hours after the accident, your attorney may be able to challenge the accuracy of the results. Your attorney can argue that the BAC level may have decreased by the time the blood test was taken, and that the driver could have been impaired at the time of the accident.
It is important to note that the time elapsed between drinking and testing is just one factor that can affect the results of a blood test. Other factors, such as the person’s hydration levels, recent food intake, and medications, can also affect the results
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to request a blood test is up to the arresting officer. Your attorney can hire an expert to examine the breathalyzer and determine if it was properly calibrated. If the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated, the results may be inadmissible in court.
Urine tests are not as commonly used as blood tests to prove driver impairment following an accident. This is because urine tests are not as accurate as blood tests and they can be more difficult to interpret.
Urine tests can detect the presence of drugs and alcohol in a person’s system. However, they cannot measure the concentration of drugs or alcohol in the blood, which is the measurement used to determine impairment. This means that a urine test may be positive for drugs or alcohol even if the person is not impaired.
Additionally, urine tests can be affected by a number of factors, such as the person’s hydration levels, recent food intake, and medications. This can make it difficult to interpret the results of a urine test.
For these reasons, blood tests are typically preferred over urine tests for proving driver impairment. However, urine tests may be used in some cases, such as when the person refuses to give a blood sample or when the blood sample is not available.
Proving Impairment Can be Difficult
When drivers operate vehicles while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the victims can suffer devastating consequences that could last a lifetime. Unfortunately, some impaired drivers slip through the cracks and escape the penalties associated with their crimes.
If you have been injured in an accident that might involve an impaired driver, you may be wise to seek the help of an experienced personal injury law firm with the expertise and resources necessary to prove impairment.
At The Millar Law Firm, we have been successfully representing victims of DUI/DWI accidents for three decades. We have the experience and the resources to discover evidence of impairment that might have been missed at the scene of the accident.
The legal team at The Millar Law Firm stands ready to help you protect your rights as guaranteed by Georgia Law. By meeting with our legal team you may have a better chance for full and fair compensation for your losses. Call us today for your free first consultation.