All You Need To Know About Drunk Driving Accidents in Maryland
Every year, the United States sees thousands of vehicle-related accidental deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drunk driving is responsible for nearly one-third of vehicular accidental deaths across the country.
In Maryland, there were about 6,266 impaired driving accidents that resulted in 1,920 injuries and 160 deaths in 2015, based on data provided in the 2017 Maryland Impaired Driving Prevention Program Area Brief. When taking the CDC’s data into account, approximately 53 deaths and 634 injuries sustained in vehicular accidents were caused by drunk driving.
To be a responsible driver who won’t put other motorists and pedestrians in danger, a fair amount of focus and self-control is required. However, alcohol impairs the brain’s ability to process information and self-control behind the wheel, thus increasing the odds of an accident occurring due to a lapse of focus and judgment.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, our personal injury lawyers are here to assist you. We have dedicated our careers to helping people like you fight to recover the compensation they deserve for both physical and emotional injuries, while also working to hold the drunken drivers responsible for the devastation they’ve caused. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligations consultation to discuss your options after a drunk driving accident in Maryland.
Adverse Effects of Alcohol on Driving Ability
It is inevitable to go out and have fun, but it is important to exercise caution especially when driving. Drinking alcohol affects the brain in several ways, which combine to impair the driver’s ability to drive. Some of the effects of alcohol include:
- Reduction of the brain’s ability to function;
- Impaired thinking and cognitive abilities of the driver;
- Inhibited reasoning, and therefore, impaired response time of the driver; and,
- Reduced muscle coordination, thereby limiting the capability of
When alcohol enters the body, it passes from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. There, it accumulates until the liver metabolizes it, which is usually when the effects become visible. The volume of alcohol in the blood is referred to as blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and depending on how high the driver’s BAC is, alcohol affects driving abilities in different ways.
- A BAC of 0.02 causes reduced visual function and difficulty in performing more than one task at a time. Drunk drivers who are distracted by texting have a 90% chance of being involved in an accident.
- A BAC of 0.05 causes a decline in coordination and ability to track objects that are moving, thereby reducing the driver’s response time to sudden hazardous driving scenarios, and leads to difficulty steering a vehicle that may result in an accident.
- A BAC of 0.08 causes reduced concentration, speed control and information processing, as well as loss of short-term memory in the driver.
- A BAC of 0.10 causes a combination of all previous adverse effects, and further prevents the driver from braking and staying in their lane properly.
- Finally, a BAC of 0.15 causes obvious impairment of control over the vehicle. A driver with this much alcohol in their system will pay less attention to driving tasks and process auditory and visual driving information at a much slower rate than a sober driver.
Drunk Driving Laws in Maryland
All across the country, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if your BAC is above 0.08. Nevertheless, approximately 1.1 million drivers nationwide were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics each year.
Anybody convicted of Driving under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) in Maryland will likely face criminal penalties, license restrictions, and possibly even require the use of an ignition interlock (II) device. Additionally, those convicted of drunk driving may also be required to go through an alcohol abuse assessment program. The following are criminal penalties and license restrictions that come with a DWI conviction:
- First offenders will pay up to $1,000 in fines, face up to one year in jail, 12 points against their driving record, and license revocation for six months.
- When convicted a second time, the offence carries up to $2,000 in fines, two years in jail (with a mandatory sentence of five days), 12 points against their driving record, and license revocation for one year.
- If convicted twice in a five-year period, penalties include a mandatory license suspension and several thousands of dollars in fines. Note also, that drivers under 21 years of age will face a two-year license suspension.
Since Noah’s Law went into effect in 2016, anyone convicted of either a DUI or DWI is required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. This requires an ignition interlock device to be installed on the offender’s vehicle for a defined period of time. Once installed, the device prevents the vehicle from being operated whenever alcohol is detected on the individual’s breath.
What Happens if You’re Hit by a Drunk Driver?
This is a common question for victims of drunk driving accidents. If you or a loved one happen to be victims of a drunk driving accident, it is critical to know what steps to take next. As in other vehicular accidents, a drunk driving accident will also rely on the insurance coverage of both parties involved (i.e., the victim and the drunken driver).
The first step to take after a drunk driving accident is to hire a lawyer, who will help establish the insurance coverage necessary for your injuries. It is important you contact experienced Maryland personal injury lawyers to help you with seeking proper compensation from the drunk driver, because their insurance company will get the best lawyers in order to ensure that they don’t have to pay a cent for your injuries.
Settlement after Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Even though the insurance company of the drunk driver would rather not to pay any compensation, the truth is that most car accident cases will settle; in fact, 90% of accident claims are settled without having to file a lawsuit, saving you time and money.
To settle means the insurance company for the drunk driver is willing to compensate the victim financially. In order to get a settlement, however, you must first establish liability, one of the key elements of your case that will ensure the drunk driver is held accountable for their actions.
Determining liability is why it is important to have a seasoned lawyer on your side. To ensure you receive a settlement, your lawyer must immediately begin the process of proving who was at fault—or, who caused the accident—as a result of being impaired by alcohol. Keep in mind that the presence of alcohol or narcotics doesn’t immediately establish liability; however, if the driver’s BAC is over the legal limit, it is safe to say that liability can be proven in most instances.
What If Your Car Was Totaled By The Drunk Driver?
There are several scenarios in which you could be involved in a car accident with a drunk driver. You could be walking as a pedestrian when the accident occurred, or you could be in your own car when the accident happened. If it was the latter scenario and your car happens to get totaled, you may suffer a number of personal injuries in the process as well.
As mentioned above, contacting a personal injury lawyer and discussing your options should be your first action following an accident. The drunk driver at fault will most likely have insurance, and therefore be responsible for repairing or replacing your vehicle.
What If You Were Hit By a Drunk Driver with No Insurance?
If you happen to be a victim of a car accident with a drunk driver without any form of insurance, then your insurance company will be the responsible for covering your damages and injury costs. Additionally, your insurance company can sue the at-fault party, i.e. the drunk driver, to recover the cost they paid for your damages and injuries.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driving accident, then you need to discuss your options with experienced lawyers immediately. You deserve compensation for your injuries and the damages to your car.
Drunk driving doesn’t have to ruin your life. Contact the Law Offices of Otway Russo today to schedule a free, no-strings-attached consultation today. We’d love to hear from you.