Danville Drunk Driver Accident Lawyer
In the 1980s, authorities at all levels decided to “get tough” on drunk drivers. Lawmakers passed new laws, and courts approved controversial police tactics. These efforts significantly increased the number of DUI arrests. However, they didn’t significantly reduce the number of alcohol-related wrecks. All these years later, alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Illinois.
The tenacious Danville drunk driver accident lawyers at Patel Law are tough on drunk drivers as well. But, we don’t seek to punish them. Instead, we force them to accept responsibility for the collisions they cause and compensate the victims of these crashes. Arguably, drunk drivers know they shouldn’t get behind the wheel, but they do so anyway. Therefore, the compensation in these cases is often substantial. However, the compensation is no more than the victims and survivors of these incidents need and deserve.
First Party Liability
Unlike speeding, tailgating, and some other bad driving habits, alcohol affects the body and brain. This substance slows reflex skills and clouds judgment abilities. These impairing effects begin at the first sip. That’s long before most drivers are legally intoxicated. Circumstantial evidence of dangerous impairment includes:
- Unsafe pre-wreck driving,
- Physical driver symptoms, like odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes,
- Open container(s) of alcohol in the passenger area,
- Any commercial alcohol providers visited in the last two hours, and
- Tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) statements about prior alcohol consumption.
Legally, alcohol impairment breaches the duty of reasonable care. This duty requires motorists to be at their best, physically, emotionally, mentally, and otherwise, when they drive.
If a breach of duty caused injury, a Danville drunk driver accident lawyer can obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are also available in some extreme cases.
These claims are often slightly less complex if the tortfeasor was arrested for DUI. In these cases, the tortfeasor could be liable for damages as a matter of law, under the negligence per se rule.
The good news is that most local law enforcement agencies have mandatory DUI arrest policies. If an officer has probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated, the officer must arrest the driver. The bad news is that the negligence per se shortcut only applies in limited cases. As mentioned, there’s a difference between impairment and intoxication.
Regardless of the degree of intoxication or impairment, Illinois’ broad dram shop law usually applies in these cases.
Many states have dram shop laws. These laws hold commercial providers, like restaurants and bars, vicariously liable for car crashes and other personal injury damages. However, most states require victims/plaintiffs to prove intoxication, either at the time of sale or at the time of the crash.
235 ILCS 5/6-21(a) is different. This law holds commercial providers responsible for damages if they sold alcohol to the tortfeasor. So, the only evidence required is a receipt, at least in many cases.
This law only applies to commercial providers. Noncommercial providers, like party hosts, could be vicariously liable for drunk driver wrecks as well, under a theory like negligent undertaking. 235 ILCS 5/6-21(a) also applies to many other illegal sales, like underage, unlicensed, and after-hours sales.
Contact an Experienced Vermilion County Lawyer
Injury victims are often entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced drunk driver accident attorney in Danville, contact Patel Law, P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.