Drunk Driving Accidents in Virginia
In Virginia, you are under the influence of alcohol if your blood alcohol measures at a certain level or above. For drivers over age 21, anything over 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration is against the law. The amount decreases to 0.02 percent for drivers under 21 and 0.04 percent for commercial drivers. Virginia has little tolerance for impaired driving and the consequences of a conviction can be significant.
If you are pulled over and a police officer requests that you take a breathalyzer, it is in your best interest to take the breathalyzer test, regardless whether you feel impaired. Refusing to comply can bring a one-year suspension of your driver’s license, even if it is the first time you have ever been stopped. The Virginia DUI defense attorneys at Pack Law Group will challenge the legality of the test later if necessary.
Is a Drunk Driver Always at Fault in a Car Accident?
Although many people assume that a driver found to be under the influence is always responsible for a car accident, this isn’t always the case. For example, someone with no alcohol in their system who rear-ends you at a stoplight would be the at-fault driver. However, the responding police officer will give you a sobriety test if he or she suspects that you have had too much to drink. You will be charged with a DUI if your BAC is over .02, .04, or .08, depending on your circumstances.
Many people who have consumed alcohol before driving panic in the aftermath of an accident. This causes them to make the poor decision of leaving the scene, which makes the situation and the consequences significantly worse. It is critical in a case like this to remain at the scene and contact Pack Law Group immediately for legal assistance.
Who Pays for Damages in a Drunk Driving Accident?
This can be a complicated question to answer if you were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident but didn’t necessarily cause it. If a police officer gets a reading on your breathalyzer that is above the legal limit, he or she will probably assume that you caused the accident. You may not feel like you have much of a defense in this situation, which is why you need to work with an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney. It’s likely that you will still face charges for impaired driving, but we will argue on your behalf that you’re not responsible for paying damages to the other party.
Virginia law enables juries to award compensatory damages to accident victims. This money is intended to make the injured person as whole as possible by offering compensation for the following:
- All medical expenses related to the accident, including future medical costs
- Actual lost wages and loss of earning potential, if applicable
- Ongoing pain and suffering
- Replacement of damaged property, such as the other party’s vehicle and any valuable items contained within it
The more severe the injuries and other losses, the higher the payout the accident victim can receive. As the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit, the money to settle the case would be paid by your insurance company. Many lawyers for plaintiffs advise clients not to accept the first offer an insurance company makes. This is how personal injury cases end up in court.
Virginia Code § 8.01-44.5 allows juries to award additional compensation to people injured in a car accident if the actions of the other driver were particularly reckless. Punitive damages can be up to $300,000 and drunk driving falls into this category. If awarded, punitive damages can be much higher than compensatory damages because they are intended to punish the impaired driver.
Don’t Automatically Accept Blame for Injuries or Damages
Getting charged with drunk driving is difficult enough. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for the injuries or damages of the other party if your actions didn’t directly cause the accident. We urge you to contact us at Pack Law Group to determine if we can represent you in the DUI case or the personal injury case. Matthew Pack and W. Cameron Warren have successfully argued countless complicated cases like yours. We represent people in Bedford, Virginia and the surrounding communities and are here to help you through a stressful time. Contact our experienced DUI defense attorneys at (540) 586-7225 or online by using our website contact form.