Motor vehicle accidents stemming from drunk driving are completely preventable. Designating a sober driver, hosting responsible parties and gatherings, and taking keys from a friend or loved one who appears to have had too much to drink are all ways to prevent devastating car accidents. However, drunk drivers still take to the roads all too often and innocent drivers are oftentimes the victims of horrifying crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drunk drivers kill up to 30 people every day. This means every 48 minutes a person dies as a result of a drunk driver. These accidents are far more common than one might think and the consequences last a lifetime. Injuries sustained by the victim of a drunken driving accident are life altering. If the accident results in a fatality, the lives of their family are forever changed. Drunken driving accidents are truly a tragedy, yet one that is entirely avoidable. In July of 2012, Virginia legislation began enforcing one of the areas harshest drunken-driving penalties. The new law requires that all first-time DUI offenders must install in their vehicles a blood-alcohol testing device that locks the ignition if they are found at or exceeding blood alcohol limits. Those charged with DUI are required to purchase an interlock device regardless of whether they were just slightly over the limit or highly intoxicated. The interlock devices cost offenders upwards of $500 for 6 month installation—a hefty cost in addition to other fees and fines. If a drunk driver in Virginia has a blood alcohol level above .15 or refuses a blood alcohol test, he may be liable for punitive damages in addition to the damages to compensate the injured or the families of those who are killed. These punitive damages are for the purpose of punishing the drunk driver in addition to sending a message to others. In 2011, there were a total of 224 deaths caused by drunk drivers and 29% of all traffic related deaths were drunk driving related. While the numbers are high, each case represents a serious tragedy that could have easily been avoided. Virginia personal injury attorneys have a great deal of experience handling drunken driving cases. If you are faced with an injury or you have a loved one that has suffered on behalf of a drunk driver, you have the right to seek representation and to see if you have a claim to compensation.
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