There really is no excuse for drunk driving when it is easy and convenient to call an Uber or Lyft driver.
According to the CDC, 29 people die every day in a vehicle accident involving an impaired driver.
The annual cost of these accidents exceeds $44 billion.
Due to drunk and impaired driving, one preventable death occurs every fifty minutes.
The statistics are even worse, per capita, in Oklahoma vs the US.
Most of the drunk driving information online is from criminal defense attorneys that defend people accused of driving under the influence. Our firm is focused on helping the victims of these needless, preventable accidents.
What is considered drunk driving?
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. A person can be charged with drunk driving even if they are not intoxicated, but their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. This means that even if a person has only had one drink, their BAC could be high enough to be considered intoxicated.
DUI vs DWI
If a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher and they are operating a motor vehicle, they are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI).
A person may be found guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they have alcohol in their system but their BAC is below 0.08.
Penalties for drunk driving
Penalties for drunk driving in OKC can include fines and court costs of more than $10,000, jail time, and license suspension. If a person is convicted of drunk driving, they will also have to complete an alcohol education and treatment program. Other penalties often include:
- Impaired Driver Accountability Program
- Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle
- DUI School
- Community Service
- Victim Impact Panel
The best way to avoid these penalties is to not drink and drive. Drunk drivers are risking their own lives and the lives of others when they get behind the wheel.
Is Oklahoma a “no tolerance” state?
Yes, Oklahoma is a “zero tolerance” state when it comes to drunk driving. This means that even a first time drunk driver can be charged with a felony and face serious penalties.
Who can be held accountable for drunk driving?
The drunk driver
Even though the drunk driver is likely facing criminal charges, a civil case can be filed against the individual who caused the drunk driving accident. The victim in the civil case is the Plaintiff, and is suing the drunk driver. The defendant’s insurance company will generally be defending the lawsuit, but is not a named party.
Oklahoma’s Social Host Law
In Oklahoma, the “Social Host” law holds individuals accountable for providing alcohol to someone who is impaired. This means that if you are a host at a party and someone gets drunk, you may be held liable for their actions. The most common example is when some parents decide to be the “cool parents” and host a party at their house for their high school student and his or her friends. If one of the students gets drunk and drives, injuring themselves or someone else, the parents could be held liable. In general, the parents’ home owner’s insurance would be defenndaing and paying on the claim.
The Restaurant or Bar That Overserved the Driver
Oklahoma’s dram shop law may also hold a restaurant or bar liable for a drunk driving accident. This law allows injured people to sue the establishment that served too much alcohol to the driver.
3 Ways Restaurants and Bars Can Be Liable for Drunk Driving Wrecks
- Serving a customer that is already obviously intoxicated.
- Overserving a customer.
- Serving alcohol to minors.
What can a drunk driving accident victim recover?
The victim of a drunk driving accident can recover money for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. If the victim was killed, their family may be able to recover money for funeral expenses and the loss of their loved one
Personal injury damages
The following are some examples of the types of damages that may be available to a victim of a drunk driving accident:
Medical expenses: This can include past and future hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, medication, and any other necessary medical treatment.
Lost wages: If the victim is unable to work because of their injuries, they may be able to recover their lost wages.
Pain and suffering: The victim may be able to recover damages for the physical pain and emotional suffering that they experienced as a result of the drunk driving accident.
Wrongful death: If the victim was killed in the accident, their family may be able to recover money for funeral expenses and the loss of their loved one.
Vehicle damage: If the victim’s vehicle was damaged in the accident, they may be able to recover money for the repairs or replacement cost of the vehicle.
Where is the settlement or verdict money coming from?
The money that a victim of a drunk driving accident can recover will depend on what caused the wreck. In general, settlements are paid from either the drunk driver’s insurance , the restaurant, bar, or homeowner’s insurance, or both.
If the victim has Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, they may be able to recover money from their own insurance company. This coverage pays for damages that are not covered by the other insurance.
What if someone died as a result of a drunk driving accident?
If someone died as a result of a drunk driving accident, their family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit is filed against the person or entity that was responsible for the death. The goal of the lawsuit is to recover money for funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages that the victim suffered.
Deadline to file a claim.
The statute of limitations for most drunk driving accidents is two years from the date of the accident. This means that if you don’t file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident, you will forfeit your right to do so. The main exception to this rule is if the victim (plaintiff) is a minor at the time of the accident. If that is the case, he or she has until they reach their 19th birtday.
Even though two years sounds like a long time to file a lawsuit, acting sooner, rather than later is in the plaintiff’s best interest. Your attorney will want to investigate the accident while the facts are still fresh and witnesses can still be located. This can allow for a stronger case. The bar may have security footage from the night of the accident that clearly shows their patron is intoxicated. Without a lawsuit to preserve the evidence, the bar may not think to safe the videotape, or may choose to destroy it, or the file may be rewritten over every 30 days.
Call an attorney today to discuss your case.
Oklahoma Statutes Related to Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving
There are many state laws that govern various driving offenses, including offenses that involve alcohol or drugs. The Oklahoma State Courts Network makes our state laws available online. Here are several links to the appropriate sections, so you can read the laws for yourself. A brief explanation of these laws is provided next.
Title 47: Motor Vehicles
* Section 6-205.2: Disqualification of Persons from Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles
* Section 11-902: Persons Under the Influence of Alcohol or Other Intoxicating Substance or Combination Thereof
* Section 11-904: Personal Injury Accidents
* Section 11-906.4: Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Other Intoxicating Substance
* Section 751: Implied Consent to Breath, Blood, or Other Test for Determining Concentration of Alcohol or Other Intoxicating Substance
* Section 756: Admission of Evidence Shown by Tests
* Section 761: Operation of Motor Vehicle While Impaired
- Driving under the influence, DUI (Section 11-902A above): The crime of “driving under the influence” is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. The law defines DUI as having one or more of five conditions that render a driver unable to drive safely. The first of those five conditions is having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more within two hours after arrest.
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or an intoxicating substance (Section 11-902A above): DUI is not limited to driving under the influence of alcohol. As explained above, DUI is a driver having one or more of five unsafe conditions while driving. Three of those conditions are: (1) Having any amount of a Schedule 1 chemical or controlled substance in your system (marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance), (2) Being under the influence of any intoxicating substance, or (3) Being under the influence of a combination of alcohol and an intoxicating substance.
- Driving while impaired, DWI (Section 761 above):DWI requires a lower blood alcohol content for conviction, a BAC of .05 to .07, and it carries a lower penalty and fine.
- Aggravated DUI (Section 11-902D above): Aggravated DUI requires a higher blood alcohol content for convention, a BAC of .15 of more, and carried a higher penalty and fine.
- Commercial DUI (Section 6-205.2B above): Operating or having actual physical control of a commercial vehicle with a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04. The .04 limit is less than the .05 necessary for a DWI conviction and half the .08 necessary for a DUI conviction.
- Refusal to take test (Section 751 above): Oklahoma has “implied consent,” meaning that the act of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle means that you are granting consent to be tested, if an officer has probable cause. Refusal to submit to a test to determine alcohol concentration can result in revocation of your license.
- Under-age drunk driving: (Section 11-906.4 above): It is against the law for a person below the age of 21 to drive or have actual physical control of a vehicle with any measurable level of alcohol and/or drugs in one’s system. In this regard, Oklahoma is a “zero tolerance” state.
- DUI with personal injury or great bodily injury (Section 11-904 above): If a driver is found guilty of DUI and the incident resulted in a personal injury, the driver may be found guilty of DUI with personal injury. This section also provides for a felony offense and greater punishment for a DUI driver who causes “great bodily injury,” defined as “serious, permanent disfigurement,” the loss or impairment of any bodily member or organ, or “creat[ing] a substantial risk of death.”
- DUI with minor in the vehicle (Section 11-902L above): An adult (18 years or older) who is convicted of DUI (or any provision of Section 11-902) and had a minor (17 years or younger) in the vehicle can be ordered to pay a doubled fine. The offender may also be prosecuted under the Felony Child Endangerment statute. This law was passed in Oklahoma in 2009.
- Actual physical control (Section 11-902A above): It is not just a violation to be driving under the influence. It is also a violation to be in physical control of a vehicle, even if the vehicle is not moving, while you under the influence (BAC of .08 or more within two hours after arrest). Having physical control means having the ability to drive the car, for example, having the keys, even if the car is stopped at the time of the arrest. One common APC violation is someone who has pulled over to “sleep it off,” but has a BAC of .08 or higher at the time of the arrest.