Drunk Driving Accidents Attorney
Accidents Caused By Those Driving Under The Influence
Many times, serious and life-altering auto accidents are caused by a drunk driver or an individual driving while under the influence of prescription drugs or nonprescription drugs who should not have been operating a motor vehicle.
At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., our practice is to thoroughly investigate these incidents as well as the events leading up to these incidents. For example, if our investigation reveals:
- The driver had just left an establishment where he or she was obviously intoxicated and continued to be served alcohol.
- An owner of a car allowed someone who was obviously intoxicated to drive their car.
- An owner of a car allowed someone under the influence of drugs to drive their car.
We will pursue the establishment owner under a dram shop claim or the vehicle owner under a negligent entrustment claim.
Signs a Driver May be Drunk
MADD outlines some of the signs of impaired driving. These include:
- Weaving or drifting in and out of traffic lanes
- Driving way slower than the speed limit
- Coming close to hitting another vehicle or object
- Lack of headlights at night
- Slow start or sudden stop at traffic lights
- Driving in between two lanes
Dram Shop Liability
Pennsylvania’s dram shop law holds businesses or individuals who continue to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person to be held responsible if that person later causes an accident. If a bar, restaurant or social club overserves an individual who later causes personal injury in a car accident, they can be held responsible for the damage done.
Pennsylvania law recognizes the legal theory of “negligent entrustment,” which holds car owners legally responsible for the negligence of drunk drivers to whom they loaned their cars, if they knew that the driver was likely to drink or drive recklessly. Under the theory of negligent entrustment, any car owner who lends his or her car to someone who is clearly intoxicated or drunk may be held responsible for the crash because they negligently entrusted the vehicle to a person who was incompetent to drive and caused an accident.
The Effects of Alcohol on Driving Ability
Drunk driving is illegal because alcohol significantly impacts a person’s ability to drive a car. Most people understand the basis for the law, but despite several decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns, far too many individuals continue to make the horrible and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
In Pennsylvania, most motorists considered legally drunk with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or above. But even if a motorist is not over the legal limit, alcohol can still impair their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Here are some of the specific ways that alcohol can negatively affect your ability to drive:
- Impact your vision. As a depressant, alcohol slows your body down. This includes your eye muscles. They have trouble following movement properly. Your vision can also get blurry. When you can’t see, you don’t identify hazards or even the lines on the road. In the worst cases, this could even cause a driver to fall asleep behind the wheel. A motorist can start experiencing a decline in visual functions with a BAC of just .02%.
- Reduce your coordination. A car is a complex machine that requires multiple inputs — feet, eyes, hands — at the same time. This is difficult when sober and nearly impossible when intoxicated. Loss of muscle control and reduced coordination can start to happen with a BAC of just .05%.
- Lead to irrational decisions. You may not comprehend how dangerous a situation is or decide to do something that you would never do sober. Mood changes, exaggerated behavior, release of inhibitions, and irrational decisions are more common among drivers with a BAC of .05% or above.
- Reduce your reaction time. When something happens in front of the car that you don’t expect, such as another accident or a light turning red, you must be able to react right away. A significant reduction in reaction time will begin to happen when a driver has a BAC of .05% or above; and once a driver’s BAC reaches .08% to .10%, there is typically a clear deterioration of reaction time along with significant loss of vehicle control, slurred speech, and slowed thinking.
- Lead to distraction. Driving takes vigilant concentration. Alcohol breaks that and can lead to distraction and drowsy driving. Difficulty with attention and focus begins when a driver has a BAC of .02% or above, at which time their ability to perform two tasks at the same time is inhibited. The tendency to become distracted worsens as the blood alcohol level rises.
At a .08 percent blood alcohol content level, which is the legal limit in most states around the nation, you can experience difficulties making important judgments, detecting danger and remembering important facts. Your ability to reason and control your own temperament is also affected. When you consider how these challenges may affect your ability to drive, the thought can be alarming. With even a minute presence of alcohol in your bloodstream, your ability to follow traffic rules, identify the behaviors of other drivers and, and detect danger and hazards are significantly compromised. As such, it is critical that you make alternate plans for your transportation if you plan to drink at all before you need to go somewhere.
Contact the attorneys at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, law office of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., by calling us at 412-391-9860 in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania, or toll free at 866-466-5789. You may also complete our online contact form. Initial consultations are free and confidential.