Paul Smith was a fatal victim in a drunk driving accident on Friday, August 1st in Sacramento, California. Smith was a passenger in a car driven by Kirk Jones; both were Sacramento residents. Jones was driving a Pontiac, and was traveling at about 70 mph on Highway 116 when he attempted to pass another car while crossing a double yellow line. Jones swerved back into his own lane to avoid on-coming traffic and hit the side of the car he was passing. Eventually Jones’ car hit the guard rail and came to a complete stop, but Paul Smith suffered major injuries and died at the scene. Jones suffered minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter.
It is a tragedy Paul Smith died, but there will always be risks when you get in a car with a drunk driver. It’s a risk that’s not worth taking. Paul Smith would still be alive today if he had not gotten in Jones’ car, but rather had found another way home.
In 2006, an estimated 15,827 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes—an average of one every 33 minutes. These deaths constitute 37 percent of the 42,532 total traffic fatalities. Of these, 13,470 involved a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). On average someone is killed by a drunk driver every 39 minutes.
About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their drivers.
Over 1.46 million drivers were arrested in 2006 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 139 licensed drivers in the United States.
In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present — an average of one person injured almost every minute.
Since 1980 (the year Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded), alcohol-related traffic fatalities have decreased by about 44 percent, from over 30,000 to under 17,000 and MADD has helped save over 300,000 lives.
Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill, which is 63 percent of the total cost of these crashes.
In 2005, 52 percent (7,330 drivers) of the drivers with alcohol in their system who were involved fatal crashes (14,068 total) had BAC levels at or above .16 g/dl. The most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes was .17 g/dl .
Only 17 percent of impaired drivers who are injured in crashes are charged and convicted. Eleven percent are charged and not convicted and 72 percent are never charged.
Attorney Moseley Collins has helped many people injured by drunk drivers. He was the founding President of the Santa Clara County chapter of MADD.
If you or a loved has been injured or killed by a drunk driver you have a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. It is vital that you find an experienced attorney to fight for your rights as a victim. So many times people incur huge bills after an accident like this.
Moseley Collins is a Sacramento personal injury lawyer, specializing in major injury cases, including people injured or killed by drunk drivers.