Drunk Driving Laws in Utah

On December 30, 2018, Utah will become the state with the least amount of tolerance for those who consume alcohol and then hit the road. Beginning that day, drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% will not be allowed to "operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle." Utah Code Ann. 41-6a-502. The penalties are stiff and can include jail time, especially if the person is involved in a crash that causes injuries.

These laws apply to alcohol consumption and also other drugs that affect perception and judgment.

Liability for Drunk Driving

In addition to being fined and potentially jailed for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a person can face serious civil consequences if they cause a car accident while drunk. People who drive vehicles on public roads are required by law to drive in a reasonable and prudent manner. A person who is driving under the influence is neither reasonable nor prudent.

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Injuries caused by drunk drivers are often severe. A few years ago, we were involved in litigating a drunk driving case where the driver drove up on the sidewalk and hit two pedestrians. One of the pedestrians was killed and the other was left permanently disabled. The driver was sentenced to time in prison and the families of the injured pedestrians were given large insurance settlements. That driver's decisions had disastrous consequences for the families left mourning the loss of their loved ones.

Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Accidents

People who are injured by drunk drivers are entitled to pursue a claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages are reserved for cases where the actions of a party are so bad they deserve to be punished. Under normal circumstances, it is rare for a court to award someone punitive damages.

However, a person injured by a drunk driver has a very good chance of getting punitive damages.  Under Utah law, the normal rules that make it difficult to prove punitive damages do not apply to drunk drivers. Utah Code Ann. 78B-8-201. The courts will allow a plaintiff in that case to ask the jury to consider the driver's terrible decision and enter a verdict designed to punish the drunk driver.

The Role of the Plaintiff's Lawyer

We are passionate about helping people who are the victims of drunk drivers. The role of the personal injury lawyer in a drunk driving case is to make sure that the plaintiff is given the chance to present all of his or her evidence regarding how the accident happened, what his or her injuries are, and how those injuries have affected his or her life.

Our job is to help the jury understand that we can not tolerate anyone who drinks too much alcohol or takes drugs and then sits behind the wheel of a car. The driver's decision-making becomes impaired and the results can be devastating for individuals and their families.

Next Steps...

If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk or impaired driver, Leave it to Schriever! We will fight hard to make sure your rights are protected.