Driving under the influence is a major issue in the United States. We see many cases every year of people injured, or worse, killed, by impaired drivers. As we work these cases, we are often heartbroken alongside families, just trying to get justice for their loved one.
An accident caused by an impaired driver is never a walk in the park, but the injuries they leave behind can be incredibly devastating. In the event of a severe injury, you're left with medical bills, unable to work or struggling to work, and a sense that your family is in crisis. In the case of a death caused by an impaired driver, this grief can be even more extreme.
We know if you're currently researching your case, regarding an injury or fatality caused by an impaired driver, you have a lot of questions. We wanted to compile some statistics regarding DUI fatalities and the outcomes of these cases. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
The Statistics on DUI Fatalities
According to the CDC, in Oregon between 2003 and 2012, 1,232 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver. That means around 120 people or more die per year in accidents caused by an impaired driver. Nationally, one in three traffic deaths involves an impaired driver.
Nationally in 2017, over 10,000 people were killed in DUI-related crashes. (Source)
According to the National Highway traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 26% of accidents with fatalities, at least one driver had a BAC of 0.8 or higher. In 15% of fatal accidents, at least one driver had a BAC of 0.15 or higher. Those numbers are staggering, especially considering when we look at the number of people who self-report driving under the influence. Nationally, 1.9% of people report driving after drinking too much; in Oregon, that number is 1.4%.
As you can see, car accidents caused by impaired drivers are becoming increasingly common. Driving under the influence is a serious issue and can cause devastation and heartbreak--but many continue to take that risk.
Here is an even more staggering fact, from Pediatrics Journal: between 2001 and 2010, 2344 children under the age of 15 were killed in crashes that involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver. Of these children, 65% were in the vehicle with the impaired driver.
If you're dealing with a DUI-related injury or fatality, know that you aren't alone. There is no comfort in seeing how common DUI-related fatalities are, but there is hope for justice for your case. Let's talk about outcomes.
What Are the Most Likely Outcomes for a DUI Fatality Case?
In regards to cases of DUI with a fatality, the court presumes the defendant to be negligent under the law, and that this negligence is no different than someone running a red light and hitting someone. The criminal justice system prosecutes this slightly differently; their motor vehicle liability is responsible for everything caused by the drunk driver, including any wrongful deaths.
Families can recover wrongful death damages for the loss, under the wrongful death statute, but how much they can receive in court is variable. Another option is to sue for punitive damages; this is a different type of damage according to Oregon state law where 60% of damages go to Oregon and 40% go to the victim or family.
The most likely outcome is this: the person who was driving under the influence will most likely be in prison for manslaughter, the wrongful death will be recovered from insurance, and the estate of the driver will be responsible for punitive damages.