West Hartford DUI Law Firm: We Sue Drunk Drivers
The sad reality is that almost all of us have been impacted by drunk driving in West Hartford. Approximately one in three traffic deaths in our country involve a drunk driver. Connecticut is in the top five states with the highest percentage of fatal accidents involving drunk drivers.
“The numbers don’t lie. The destructive force of drunk and drugged driving must end.”
MADD’s Intoxicated Driving Statistics:
- An average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before the first arrest.
- Each day, people drive drunk more than 300,000 times, but only about 3200 are arrested.
- In 2017, 10,874 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 48 minutes – and more than 300,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes.
- Every day about 800 people are injured in a drunk driving crash.
- Teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year – that’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
- 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
- MADD has helped save nearly 30,000 young lives through the passage of the 21 minimum drinking age law.
- Since 1980 MADD has saved 380,000 lives …and counting.
- In the United States, the number of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half since MADD was founded in 1980.
- MADD compassionately provides a supportive service to a victim every 3 minutes.
Source: Mothers Against Drunk Driving
One reason our DUI attorneys support MADD: “Drunk Driving is one of the Leading Killers of Children”
Here at BWP, we all know what it means to be a part of a family and a member of the community. Furthermore, we know that our children are a vital part of that.
In 2017, 1,147 children under the age of 14 were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Of these deaths, 220 of them were a result of alcohol-impaired drivers. More than half of the children were killed by their own drinking driver.
Connecticut DUI Laws:
BAC Limits in CT: If you are over the age of 21 and your BAC reaches 0.08% or higher, you are considered intoxicated and no other evidence is needed. This is the “per se” law. Under the “per se” law, commercial drivers are considered intoxicated if their BAC reaches 0.04%. If you are under the legal drinking age, in accordance with the “zero tolerance law” you are considered intoxicated when your BAC reaches 0.02%.
Implied Consent: In the State of Connecticut, we have a law known as “implied consent.” Essentially, just by operating a motor vehicle, you are consenting to a chemical analysis whether it be your blood, breath or urine. Failure to comply may result in suspended driving privileges.
1st Offense: Automatic suspension (up to 45 days) or revocation of your license. In order to restore your license, you must install an ignition interlock device for one year. You won’t be able to start your car unless your BAC is under a certain level.
2nd Offense: License will be suspended and one must install the ignition interlock device for three years.
3rd Offense: Under most circumstances, your license can be permanently revoked.
1st Violation: Up to 6 months in prison, $1,000 in fines
2nd Violation: If your second violation is within 10 years of your first conviction- Up to 2 years in prison, $4,000 in fines. In addition, the court may order community service and/or a treatment program.
3rd Violation: If your third violation is within 10 years of your prior conviction- Up to 3 years in prison, $8,000 in fines. The court may also order community service and/or a treatment program.
Fatality: Second Degree Manslaughter with a motor vehicle
Dram Shop: Getting Served for Serving Alcohol in West Hartford, CT
Dram shop laws allow an individual to sue bars and restaurants if one of their patrons causes damage or injury to another person after being served while intoxicated. Essentially, the claim is that the individual was served alcohol when he or she was already intoxicated, which caused or helped to cause the accident. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have dram shop laws.
To prevail under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 30-102, the plaintiff must prove that the establishment sold alcohol to the individual; that said individual was intoxicated; and that the intoxicated person caused injury to the person or property of the plaintiff because of his or her intoxication. In 2003, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the dram shop act allowed for both recovery under the dram shop statute and a claim of negligence where the intoxicated individual is under 21 years of age.
What is an “intoxicated person?”
This issue has been the subject of a lot of litigation because the statute does not define “intoxicated person.” The court held that, “[w]hen it is apparent that a person is under the influence of liquor, when his manner is unusual or abnormal and is reflected in his walk or conversation, when his ordinary judgment or common sense are disturbed or his usual will power temporarily suspended, when these or similar symptoms result from the use of liquor and are manifest, a person may be found to be intoxicated.”
Are there limits to liability?
Yes. In Connecticut, you can only recover up to $250,000 in a single accident.
There are also some procedural requirements which must be followed. You must provide the seller with written notice of your intention to sue within 120 days of the incident or 180 days in the case of death or incapacity of the injured party. Additionally, there is a one-year statute of limitations for filing a claim under the dram shop act. Contact Buckley, Wynne & Parese to know your rights by calling 203-776-2278 or visiting www.bwplaw.com.
Is Drunk Driving in West Hartford Reckless?
Yes! Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-295, in a civil action where the at-fault party has deliberately or with reckless disregard operated a motor vehicle in violation of such statutes as the one prohibiting drunk driving, the plaintiff may be entitled to double or treble damages. Driving under the influence in West Hartford is considered reckless driving, beyond the standard of mere negligence. Contact Buckley, Wynne & Parese to know your rights by calling 203-776-2278 or visiting www.bwplaw.com. Protect your family!
Who is Paying for all this?
One study estimated that the cost to the public is $114.3 billion, including economic and life losses. As for the offender, there are numerous costs associated with a DUI, as well. These costs can add up quickly, totaling more than $20,000 even for a first offense with no property damage or injuries. This includes fines, bail, towing and impound of the driver’s vehicle, higher insurance premiums, an attorney, alcohol education programs, licensing fees, chemical testing fees, probation supervision, installation of the ignition interlock device and maintenance, license reinstatement fees, community service fees, alternate transportation during the license suspension, and more.
- Impact of Drunk Driving: Drunk driving is a pervasive issue, resulting in significant fatalities and injuries. Specifically, 1 in 3 traffic deaths are linked to drunk driving. Teen alcohol usage causes more deaths than all illegal drugs combined. In 2017, 220 children below the age of 14 were victims of alcohol-impaired driving. If affected, consult a DUI Lawyer immediately.
- Connecticut's Strict DUI Laws: As a leading Drunk Driving Attorney in Connecticut, we emphasize the state's stringent DUI regulations, including Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limits and both administrative and criminal penalties. These range from license suspensions, obligatory ignition interlock devices, hefty fines, to possible jail time based on the severity and frequency of the offenses.
- Dram Shop & Financial Implications: Connecticut's dram shop rules allow individuals to take legal action against establishments serving alcohol to evidently intoxicated customers causing subsequent harm. The state imposes a maximum liability of $250,000 with specific procedural requisites. Besides being a criminal concern, drunk driving comes with high financial costs, potentially surpassing $20,000 for first-time offenses. The broader societal cost is a staggering $114.3 billion, incorporating both economic and life losses. Reach out to a qualified to know more.
Know your rights! Contact Buckley, Wynne & Parese - West Hartford DUI Lawyers today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Your legal fees are paid on a contingency fee basis unless otherwise specified. That means that we are not paid unless we recover compensation for you.
Once it is safe to do so, you should attempt to document the entire situation by taking photographs and careful notes. Having notes to remind you of all the details of what happened, and what you went through, is far easier and far more accurate than relying on your memory.
Write things down as soon as you can: begin with what you were doing and where you were going, the people you were with, the time and the weather. Include every detail of what you saw, heard and felt. Be sure to add anything you remember hearing anyone — a person involved in the accident or a witness — say about the accident.
Finally, make daily notes of the effects of your injuries. You may suffer pain, discomfort, anxiety, loss of sleep or other problems you are experiencing. These notes can be very useful two or six or ten months later, when you put together all the important facts into a final demand for compensation.
*For more information on your rights and responsibilities after an accident, see: Motor Vehicle Rights and Responsibilities.
Figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless. For vehicle accidents, there is a set of official written rules telling people how they are supposed to drive and providing guidelines by which liability may be measured. These rules of the road are the traffic laws everyone must follow.
Sometimes a violation of one of these traffic rules is obvious and was clearly the cause of an accident — for example, when one driver runs a stop sign and crashes into another. In other situations, whether or not there was a violation will be less obvious. A common example is a crash that occurs when drivers merge into a single lane of traffic.
Sometimes, the ultimate determination of who should be responsible is left up to the fact finder or jury.
Ideally, the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for repairing your vehicle. Sometimes, liability is not accepted, however, and it is easier and quicker to pursue a damage claim under your own insurance coverage.
Yes. In Connecticut, you are entitled to Loss of Use, which includes either a rental vehicle or the value of a comparable rental vehicle. For more on your rights, see Motor Vehicle Rights and Responsibilities.
You can pursue an uninsured or underinsured motorist (“UM” or “UIM”) claim under your own auto insurance policy. This insurance coverage applies if you have been hit by an uninsured driver or where the coverage of the at-fault driver is insufficient to pay for your damages. “UM” and “UIM” coverage is mandated by law. You should consult with an attorney before filing a claim.
The accident was my fault-
When you caused the accident, you are responsible for repairing your own vehicle and the other vehicle that you damaged. Assuming you are insured, your company will pay for the damages to the other vehicle up to your policy limits. If you have “collision coverage” under your policy, you will also be covered for repairs to your vehicle up to the amount of your coverage. You will likely have a deductible of $500 or $1,000. You should not have to pay more than your deductible if you have full collision coverage. When you caused the accident, your right to a rental car is subject to the terms of your insurance policy. If you purchased rental reimbursement coverage, you will be covered for a rental car. Most insurers can set up direct billing with the rental car company. Check with your insurance company or insurance agent regarding your coverage.
The accident was not my fault-
If someone else caused the accident, that person’s insurance company (if the other person is insured) should pay for the cost of repairs. You should not have to pay for anything. You are entitled to take the vehicle to a repair shop of your choice for repairs. If you were injured, you should consult with an attorney before communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company about repairs. If the other person was not insured but was at fault, you should use your own insurance. Your company will later undertake efforts to get its money back through a process known as subrogation.
The insurance company is required to use at least the average of the retail values according to the NADA Used Car Guide (www.nadaguides.com) and one other automobile industry source approved by the Insurance Commissioner. The insurance company must give you a copy of the information relied upon in determining the value of your car. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to underestimate the value of your car or the damages sustained to a repairable car. Don’t hesitate to get an explanation for the method used to calculate the value of your vehicle. If you continue to have any concerns, contact an attorney.
When the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its value, or, depending on your policy, the repair cost will exceed 80% of your vehicle’s value, your vehicle will be deemed a “Total Loss”. Insurance companies have the authority to declare a vehicle a “total loss”, but they are subject to regulation by the Insurance Department. Under Connecticut law, a vehicle may be declared a “constructive total loss” when the cost to repair or salvage the damaged property, or the cost to both repair and salvage such property, equals or exceeds the total value of the property at the time of loss. In such a case, the car will be deemed a total loss.
No. When the vehicle is done, make sure that a licensed repairer tells you that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.
“OEM” parts are new parts made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. “Aftermarket” parts are new parts that are not manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. “Recycled” parts, sometimes referred to as salvage, reconditioned or used parts, are frequently obtained from auto recyclers or junkyards and can be either OEM or non-OEM parts. “Recycled” or “Non-OEM” parts may be used for repair work, but you should be notified of that fact in the repair estimate. Independent repairers often argue against the use of certain recycled and aftermarket parts on the grounds that they are not as dependable or safe as OEM parts. Make sure to talk to your repairer about whether recycled or aftermarket parts are being used and how they could affect the safety of your repair.
General Car Accident FAQs
If someone else was at fault, you are also entitled to compensation for the loss of use of your property. That means either: The use of a comparable rental vehicle (i.e. a full-size truck if you were driving a full-size truck); or Reasonable compensation for the loss of the use of your vehicle if you do not get a rental. Generally, “reasonable compensation” means the amount you would have had to spend on a rental car for the period of time necessary to settle your claim or repair your vehicle.
Tip: Insurance companies are generally eager to cut claim costs whenever possible. This is why you may be pressured to take your car to the insurance company's direct repair shop. Don’t let the insurance company steer you away from an independent repair shop.
After your insurance company pays for your repairs, it will likely seek reimbursement through a process known as “subrogation”. In a subrogation claim, the insurance company essentially steps into your shoes and brings a claim against the other driver in an effort to get its money back. If successful, your insurance company will be reimbursed and you should also be reimbursed for your deductible. In some accidents, fault is uncertain. In other words, both parties may share in the responsibility. Thus, it may be found that one party is 80% responsible and the other is 20% responsible. If this happens, damages will be apportioned accordingly. If you paid for your own damages and rental car because you had no collision coverage, you may wish to bring a claim against the at fault party for reimbursement. For more information on this process, consult with an attorney.
There is no hard and fast rule regarding premium calculations. In general, if you cause your insurance company to make payment on your behalf because of an accident you were responsible for causing, there is a chance your rates will go up. If, on the other hand, your insurance company has to pay you on your policy because of the other party’s negligence (i.e. Med-Pay claim or UM/UIM), your rates will not likely go up. For specific guidance regarding your policy, contact your insurance agent or representative.
As soon as practical, you should call your insurance company and report the accident. You should do this regardless of who was at fault. An agent will likely ask you about what happened, damages to the vehicles and personal injuries. As part of your insurance contract, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. If you do not cooperate with the reasonable demands of your insurance company, you risk denial of coverage. You have no duty or obligation, however, to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. The other party’s insurance agent may ask you to give a recorded statement. You should not agree to do this without first speaking to an attorney.
The Latest News
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Posted on Aug 28, 2023
This is not the first time our Insurance Department has sought to insulate the insurance industry from legal accountability. I presume the cost benefit analysis is one premised on giving insurance companies greater latitude with regulatory compliance in order to keep jobs here in Connecticut. Whether letting insurers break our laws in order to keep jobs here makes any sense is a political calculation above my paygrade. But seeing it over and over from this side of the table is certainly frustrating.
Attorney John F. Buckley Celebrated in the 30th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
Posted on Aug 21, 2023
This year's inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2024 particularly commendable, as Best Lawyers conducted a comprehensive peer-review survey with over 13.7 million confidential evaluations. Out of nearly 25,000 voters, Attorney Buckley emerged as a clear leader in his domain. Such an accolade is indicative of the respect and admiration he holds among his peers and underscores his stellar reputation in the industry.
Opinion: You are your dog's keeper
Posted on Jul 05, 2023
Connecticut law makes the owner or keeper of a dog liable for any damage it causes to the body or property of anyone. The law even sets liability upon a parent or guardian if the dog is owned by a minor.