As a personal injury attorney I see very serious injury and wrongful death accidents every day. Without a doubt, the drunk driver is one of the main reasons for very serious injuries or wrongful death car accidents. In my law practice, I would say that for serious injuries with medical billing in excess of $50,000 or wrongful death crashes at least 40% of them are alcohol related wrecks.
The Houston area has implemented a policy called “no refusal weekend” which has had a dramatic impact on DWI or drunken-driving arrests. The numbers, quite frankly, are shocking. What’s another refusal weekend has done is take away some of the defenses normally utilized by persons accused of drunk driving by requiring that they give blood shortly after the arrest.
The real consequences of drunk driving are felt not only by the victims and their families but also by the accused drunk driver. Without question, if a person is driving drunk and seriously injures another, they will spend time in jail. The public stigma from a drunk driving arrest cannot be overstated. I’ve seen numerous people who made a poor choice and drove while drinking only to have their family and life ripped apart.
In some instances, drunk drivers receive stiffer sentences than someone who commits a crime with a gun or shoots somebody with intent to harm or kill. The civil penalties are also extremely significant, as juries have proven time and time again that they are tired of hearing about their community being subjected to drunk driving accidents.
Although a juror may be known to enjoy a drink now and then, they also have heard of numerous drunk driving accidents and probably even have a friend or family member who has a been a victim of a drunk driver. To protect the community, and indirectly their families, jurors and Harris County and across Texas have been sending loud and clear messages to drunk drivers –if you drink and drive be prepared to pay.
Even if a DWI arrest does not involve an injury or an accident, the consequences to the drunken driver can be great. Many people end up losing their jobs and their company vehicles because of an accusation of driving while drinking. Others, save money that could go toward benefit her and their family to a defense lawyer and to pay a stiff fine in the event they are convicted of drunken driving. Even if they end up beating the charge, there out-of-pocket expenses and other intangibles are gigantic.
It is not unheard of for a criminal defense attorney to charge tens of thousands of dollars in the defense of a drunk driving arrest.
The best course of action is to don’t drink and if you do drink designate a driver or take a cab. The cost of doing otherwise can be overwhelming.
Greg Baumgartner is a drunk driving accident victims attorney and the founder of the Baumgartner law firm in Houston, Texas.
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