Drunk driving victims may have easier access to evidence

An individual simply cannot fulfill his or her duty of safe driving after drinking beyond the legal limit. Our personal injury law firm has seen firsthand the serious or fatal injuries that result from drunk driving accidents. That experience has persuaded us that more needs to be done. A personal injury lawsuit is one way that victims of a drunk driving crash can force the negligent driver to answer for his or her actions in a court of law. However, that proceeding is after-the fact. Fortunately, officials are taking a more proactive approach.

For example, enforcement efforts against drunk driving in Alabama may include sobriety checkpoints. The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an opinion that should further bolster efforts to make our roads safer. A majority approved warrantless breath tests, administered as a search incident to a lawful arrest.

This type of civil lawsuit is usually brought after any criminal proceedings against the driver have concluded. There is a strategic reason for this. Since the civil proceeding has a lower burden of proof, persuading the jury by a preponderance of the evidence, a conviction for drunk driving under the higher criminal standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can greatly help the civil case.

At the same time, the other elements of a personal injury claim must be met. Similarly, evidence used in another proceeding is not automatically admissible in a separate civil trial. Our law firm knows how to use evidence to our clients’ advantage and demonstrate how a driver may have been negligent.

Source: USA Today, “Supreme Court divides over breath, blood tests for drunk drivers,” Richard Wolf, June 23, 2016

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