How to Prove an At-Fault Driver Was Intoxicated
If you have been in an accident with a reckless driver, your case for establishing fault may be even stronger if the driver was intoxicated. However, you may not always have proof that the other person was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the wreck. The police may decline to test for intoxication for various reasons.
If you suspect that the other driver was driving drunk, you may have other options for proving it. But it is important to note that even if you do not have proof that the other driver was intoxicated, driving recklessly is usually enough to establish fault.
How To Prove the Driver Was Under the Influence
Driving while intoxicated may add strength to any other evidence that the intoxicated driver was at fault. In North Carolina, as in most states, intoxication is defined as a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher (0.04 percent or higher for commercial drivers). Even if the driver is convicted of DWI (driving while impaired) or DUI (driving under the influence—in some places outside of North Carolina), it still must be shown that the driver violated their duty of driving safely by breaking traffic laws, thus causing the accident.
There are certain behaviors that are good indicators that another driver is driving while intoxicated. For example, going the wrong way down a one-way street, driving very slow, very fast or at inconsistent speeds, weaving in and out of lanes, and of course, the smell of alcohol on their breath. If you suspect that the driver who caused your crash is intoxicated, and the police at the scene do not conduct a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test, mention to the police your suspicions and request that they at least conduct a breathalyzer test on the other driver.
If the police have not already been called to the scene of the accident, go ahead and call them. A police report may help your case and provide a means to test the other driver for intoxication. Besides, under North Carolina law, you are required to notify the police if a collision causes an injury or death to anyone or property damage of $500 or more. Since most repair costs from a collision would be higher than $500, just call the police if any damage at all has been done.
If the driver is shown to have been impaired, your claim against them could include not just personal injury and property damages, but punitive damages as well. The driver would be personally responsible for any punitive damages awarded (rather than their insurance company).
DUI/DWI or Reckless, You Still have a Strong Case
If no test is conducted and you have no solid proof that the other driver was intoxicated, that does not mean you don’t have a case. It is also not necessary for the other driver to be convicted of DWI or even charged. If the other driver was driving recklessly and breaking traffic laws, you can prove through witnesses, your own testimony and other evidence at the scene of the accident that the other driver is at fault.
Need help showing that another driver was to blame for the crash that injured you? Please do not hesitate to contact Riddle & Brantley, LLP for immediate assistance. Our team has offices in Raleigh, Goldsboro, Jacksonville and Kinston and we represent victims throughout the state of North Carolina.