As a Panama City car accident injury lawyer, Attorney Wes Pittman knows that many crashes can be traced back to a dangerous decision. Deciding to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a choice that causes innumerable injuries and deaths. We are proud to help the victims of impaired driving and to play a role in the fight to make these accidents a thing of the past.
A WJHG report notes that alcohol is being eyed as a factor in a collision that left a civilian and a member of law enforcement injured. The crash occurred around 1 A.M. on Sunday near the entrance to the Palmetto Trace subdivision as a prior accident was being cleared. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Richard Allen Johns crashed into the scene after driving on the wrong side of the Back Beach Road, a divided highway. Panama City Beach Police Captain Ronald Crowson and Royce Kershaw of Destin, both of whom were standing near the scene of the initial accident, were seriously injured. Police charged Johns with several DUI-related charges, along with driving on the wrong side of a highway, and booked him into Bay County Jail.
Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") releases a Most Wanted List detailing their top advocacy priorities. One of the 2014 priorities, a goal discussed in a dedicated fact sheet, is eliminating substance-impaired driving. After noting that motor vehicle incidents account for almost 90% of the nation's transportation fatalities, the agency suggests many of these deaths could have been prevented since they involved drug or alcohol impairment.
Campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s made substantial progress, but the portion of motor vehicle deaths that involve a substance-impaired driver has stalled at one-third since 1995. In driver surveys, 1 in 7 admitted driving when they believed they were at or over the legal blood alcohol limit, and about 10.3 million admitted driving under the influence of an illegal drug. These figures do not capture the influence of legal drugs, and it seems likely that far more drivers actually drove impaired than admitted to the actions.
The NTSB's suggestions for combatting the problem of substance-impaired drivers are wide-ranging, beginning with a call for better data on the problem and the effectiveness of previous interventions. In terms of general deterrence, measures directed at the public as a whole, the suggestions include a reduced BAC limit of 0.05 and the use of high-visibility enforcement efforts. Specific deterrence (i.e. efforts focused on particular individuals) recommendations include the use of dedicated courts for intoxicated driving offenses that focus on changing offender behavior.
Additional recommendations include using technology to prevent and detect impairment, such as ignition interlocks that stop people from driving when impaired, and passive alcohol sensors that law enforcement officers can use to identify impaired drivers. These recommendations supplement the efforts the NTSB has engaged in over the past decades, many of which are on-going.
We believe that the civil court system plays an under-appreciated role in the fight against impaired driving. While criminal cases are about the offense, civil cases are about the impact. Civil suits confront the offender with the people who were hurt by their actions. They see the people who were injured; they learn about lives lost. This is powerful deterrence against future impaired driving, especially since most people who drive impaired do not believe they will cause harm. Publicizing civil cases not only calls attention to the real impact of impaired driving – the monetary verdicts provide another disincentive and remind people that cab fare is much less expensive that a civil judgment.
If a substance-impaired driver left you injured or claimed the life of a loved one, call our Panama City DUI injury lawyer. Attorney Pittman can help you recover needed monetary compensation, and your story can help prevent future impaired driving tragedies.