Pittsburgh DUI Accident Attorney
DUI, or driving under the influence, describes anyone operating a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, illicit drugs and certain prescription medications can impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Driving under the influence of these substances puts other drivers at risk. If you’ve suffered injuries or damages due to an intoxicated driver, it’s vital to know your rights and options for legal recourse.
Penalties for DUI Violations
When a police officer stops a driver and suspects drunk driving, the officer will typically administer a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test to determine whether the driver is intoxicated. A person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) determines his or her level of intoxication. In Pennsylvania, the legal limit for impairment is .08 BAC. If a driver operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she faces severe penalties, including heavy fines and possible jail time. These penalties increase with subsequent violations and can lead to a driver’s license suspension.
Some individuals may be tempted to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. This is not a wise decision. Refusal of a breathalyzer automatically subjects you to a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Individuals guilty of DUI violations carry these convictions for 10 years. In order to drive, repeat DUI offenders may have to use an ignition interlock device (IID). These devices attach to a vehicle in such a way that the driver must blow into the device before the vehicle will start to ensure that he or she isn’t intoxicated.
Winning a DUI Accident Case
People injured by drunk drivers can file personal injury claims against the drivers. Personal injury law largely revolves around proving the defendant’s negligence, which entails three things:
- You must establish that the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care. On the road, this means following all the local traffic laws and operating vehicles safely.
- The defendant breached this duty to act with reasonable care. Driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and thus a violation of the duty to drive while exercising reasonable care.
- Your injuries and damages are the direct result of the defendant’s impaired driving. In any personal injury case, you can claim compensation only for the injuries and damages directly caused by the other party’s negligence.
As with any car accident, if you find yourself in one, the first thing you should do is assess your injuries and check the status of the other people involved, including the other driver. Call 911 to have police officers and medical responders come to the scene. If possible, take photos of the scene for use later.
Also, be very careful of the words you use when police and emergency medical technicians arrive. Even off-the-cuff remarks like, “I didn’t have time to stop” or “I didn’t see the other driver coming” can be deemed admissions of fault on your part. Pennsylvania operates with a comparative negligence law, meaning that your compensation in a personal injury case is reduced by the percentage of fault a court assigns to you. For example, if you are awarded a $10,000 settlement but are found to be 15 percent at fault, then you would only receive $8,500 of that.
Although DUI accident cases may seem straightforward, any personal injury case has the potential to spiral into a complicated mess of legal motions and proceedings. It’s crucial that you connect with an attorney as soon as possible. At Ronald J. Bua & Associates, we believe in maximizing our client’s recovery through aggressive legal representation. Our attorneys keep a small caseload, so every client receives the attention he or she deserves to secure just compensation. Contact our team of legal professionals to schedule a free, no-obligation initial interview about your case.