Have You Been Injured by a Drink Driver?

01 February 2017

By Personal Injury Solicitor Shaun Mitchell

Alcohol gives drivers a false sense of confidence that affects their reaction times, their judgement of speed/time/distance, and their ability to concentrate and co-ordinate. Drinking and driving significantly increases the likelihood of being involved in a road traffic accident.

In the past 30 years drink driving has rightly been seen in our society as being completely unacceptable. But despite this, over 70,000 people are still caught drink driving annually in the UK, and a considerable number of people are injured in drink driver related road accidents. In 2013 for instance, there were 8,000 casualties in total in drink driving accidents, of which 260 people were killed and 1,110 were seriously injured.

If you are injured in a road traffic accident where it is believed the person who caused the accident has been drinking alcohol, the Police should be called to the scene. The Police can require the driver to take a breath test at the scene if they have a suspicion that he/she has consumed alcohol.

Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 allows the Police to test any driver who they have a reasonable cause to suspect has been driving with alcohol in their body. A person failing to provide a breath test is guilty of an offence unless there is a reasonable excuse.

The maximum blood alcohol limit allowed for drivers in England & Wales is 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (80mg /100ml). The 80mg per 100ml limit was based on evidence that the likelihood of a having a road accident rises sharply at and above that level. However, the evidence also showed that most drivers are impaired and their risks increases below this limit. In 2010 the UK Government commissioned Sir Peter North to write a report, in which he recommended that the limit be reduced to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The penalties for drink driving are quite rightly severe. If someone has committed the offence of driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs, or through failing to provide a specimen for analysis, they could suffer up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000, and a minimum of 12 months disqualification. There is a minimum of 3 years disqualification for a second offence.

There is also a separate offence of causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs. The penalty for this offence is up to 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, and a minimum of 2 years disqualification. Those found guilty of these offences are likely to pay up to five times the normal motor insurance premium once they are legally allowed to drive again. They would also be unable to hire a car from most car rental firms for 10 years.

If you have been injured by a driver who has been drinking excessively, you can make a personal injury claim. This applies even if the driver flees the scene of the accident. In such cases you can make a personal injury claim against the car owner, or if the drink driver was the owner and is uninsured or untraced, you can make a claim using the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

If you are involved in an accident with a drink driver the progress of your claim maybe delayed since a copy of a Police report may need be required to prove that the drink driver was negligent in causing the accident. These Police reports will not be made available until the Police have finished their criminal investigations.

At Co-op Legal Services our Personal Injury Solicitors can help you if you have been injured as a result of a road traffic accident. Most injury claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.

More articles