Arizona Wrong-Way, Drunk Drivers
A Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer can assist victims injured as a result of wrong-way, impaired, or distracted drivers.
In Arizona the number of wrong way drivers increased by more than 8% from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, there were over 1,500 incidents of wrong-way driving, in 2017 the number exceeded 1,700.
Impaired driving is responsible for about 70% percent of wrong-way crashes on state highways, these drivers sometimes have blood-alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit.
The State of Arizona has begun a wrong-way detection system, including the installation of thermal cameras, and larger and lowered Wrong Way and Do Not Enter signs on freeway ramps and overpasses.
The Arizona Department of Transportation wrong-way driver thermal detection system is planned for a 15 mile stretch of I-17 in Phoenix, and on I-17 from I-10 to Loop 101. The system has a three phase approach when a wrong-way vehicle is detected, including alerting the wrong way driver so they can self-correct, warning right-way drivers, and notifying law enforcement.
On freeway ramps wrong way vehicles will trigger alerts, including illuminated signs, with flashing lights, which intend to get drivers to stop. Other drivers will be warned by overhead message boards.
Unfortunately these collisions can cause fatalities, serious, and life altering injuries, a Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer can attempt to determine fault, applicable insurance policies that may cover injuries and evaluate the damages caused.
It’s possible that a wrong-way driver was impaired, sometimes caused by a bar’s overservice of alcohol, such circumstances may also need to be further investigated in cases involving serious injuries, fatal crashes. Punitive damages may be applicable.
In an Arizona case, Olson v Walker, a driver spent time drinking at a bar, then he proceeded to drive. His vehicle was swerving, traveling 50-55 miles per hour, the speed limit was 40 miles per hour. The driver cut a witness off, then rear ended a motorcyclist.
The driver got out of his car, he staggered, he smelled strongly of alcohol, and he had trouble standing. His eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
A jury trial resulted in an award of $133,000.00 compensatory damages and $100,000.00 in punitive damages.
The drunk driver appealed, it was argued by the victim that the drunk driver knew that it was dangerous to drive while intoxicated and that intoxicated drivers create a substantial risk of harm to others.
A toxicologist stated that the driver consumed at least ten beers, that his blood alcohol level would have been at least .155 percent at the time of the crash, much higher than the legal limit. The driver also took Valium before the crash.
The Arizona Court of Appeals determined that the driver disregarded the fact that his ability to drive safely was impaired, he created a substantial risk of significant harm to others. The driver should have known that his conduct was so egregious that it created a substantial risk of harm to others. The amount of punitive damages was upheld.
Bars may also be liable for paying punitive damages in cases of overservice, or by violating Arizona liquor service laws, regulations. When serious injuries occur as a result of a wrong-way, impaired, or a distracted driver a Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyer should be contacted.