What a week. First the Tony Stewart tragedy and yesterday fellow celebrity bad boy and racer Justin Bieber plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of careless driving and resisting arrest.
You’ll no doubt remember that Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach in January in what police called an illegal street drag race. Theyoung pop star was driving a rented Lamborghini next to a Ferrari driven by another 19 year old singer and had the street blocked off by his body guards at 4:00 in the morning. I blogged about it here.
Bieber was also found to have an alcohol level below Florida’s 0.02 limit for underage drivers (Texas has a limit of 0.00 for drivers less than 21 years of age), but urine tests showed the presence of marijuana and Xanax and a police video showed him walking unsteadily. Bieber was also charged with resisting arrest after a profanity-laced screaming fit. Sounds like he might have been DUI to me. And he didn’t have a valid driver’s license.
The plea bargain includes a 12-hour anger management course, a $50,000 charitable contribution, and court fines. Bieber made over $50 million last year so that shouldn’t be a problem. I just wish he had made that anti-drinking public service announcement the judge asked him to do to discourage other people — especially teens — from this dangerous behavior.
Teenagers Getting Drunk And Crashing Their Cars — A Deadly Problem
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and about 25% are caused by an underage drinking driver, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Other statistics from 2012 show that:
— There were 2,823 motor vehicle accidents among people age 13- to 19-years-old.
— 2,228 teenagers died in motor vehicle accidents, many just 16 years old.
— 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased 19 percent from 2011.
How Much Alcohol Can A Driver Under 21 Drink Legally in Texas?
None. Someone under 21 is not allowed to have any alcohol in his system. After that age, a noncommercial driver can have up to 0.08% blood alchol content and not be driving while intoxicated. In many countries around the world, there is a zero tolerance, even for adults.
In the now famous “Affluenza” case, my client’s 16 year old driver had a BAC of .24% — a staggering three times the legal limit if he were 21 years old Due to this outrageous conduct, four people were tragically killed and the young man I represented has been critically injured and will never walk again. You have to think that his driver was just aping the “cool” behavior of role models like Bieber. As a personal injury lawyer and father, this topic infuriates me, as you know from my past blogs.
Do We Have A DWI Problem in Texas?
Absolutely. Or should I say Absolut-ly? Drinking and drug use are rampant here. Texas has far more drunk driving accidents than any other state in the nation — over 10,000 last year. And here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties last year, 121 people were killed and 1,261 others were seriously injured by DWI drivers. Dallas leads the country in drunk driving accidents.
A drunk driving accident is rarely a minor collision. It is often a devasting head-on or “T-bone” side crash at a high rate of speed.
What Can We Do To Stop This From Happening?
We need more education, more restrictive conditions on teens driving, more law enforcement, and less plea bargains (like this one) slapping drunks on the wrist. Civil attorneys need to sue drunk drivers for the damages they cause to innocent motorists. It’s a two step solution: we must jail these criminals and punish them financially.
MADD: Supporting Drunk Driving Accident Victims
The Berenson Law Offices is proud to have sponsored MADD for years and to be the Presenting Sponsor of the 2014 Walk Like MADD, which raises money to increase awareness of the danger of drunk driving and to support victims of this horrible crime.
Should You Hire An Attorney If You Have Been Injured In a Drunk Driving Crash?
No question.Those injured by drunk drivers or the families of those who have been killed by a drunk driver have the right to be compensated. The insurance company or jury will likely award substantial damages in cases like these, including your attorney’s fees, and he’ll take care of all of your legal, medical, and financial issues. If you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident, don’t accept a settlement offer unless you first speak to an experienced Fort Worth personal injury attorney. After all, the first meeting with him is free, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
What Is My Case Worth?
In my experience, juries will probably award substantial damages, which may include punitive damages against the defendant. Insurance companies know they will lose in court and they know that with an aggressive lawyer on your side, they will be forced to pay you a lot of money. So they’d rather settle with you without a trial and pay your lawyer fees than risk a verdict in excess of the policy limits, often just $30,000.00 for one person’s bodily injuries, and be liable under the “Stowers Doctrine” for those excess damages.
What Not To Do
Don’t let an insurance company convince you that your case is only worth the low-ball offer they are hoping that you will accept. It trains its adjusters to contact victims quickly after a drunk driving accident and offer them an insultingly low amount of money. It’s called “swoop and settle” in the business. We just had to turn down a case last week when a young man (foolishly) accepted a lousy $500.00 check the day after his crash — and wishes he hadn’t.
Why You Need an Experienced Fort Worth Dallas Car Wreck Lawyer
We want to make sure that you are reimbursed for your ambulance, hospital, doctor. physical therapy, and medication expenses as well as get you repaid for your lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages that you are entitled to receive.
An experienced personal injury lawyer also quickly investigates who supplied the drunk driver with the alcohol. The restaurant, bar, liquor store, or others may also be liable for damages under certain circumstances under what is called the dram shop law. Speak to a knowledgeable drunk driving accident attorney and find out what your case is really worth.
We Can Help
Have you been injured in a Fort Worth or Dallas drunk driving collision? Call the Berenson Law Offices today at 817-885-8000 or toll-free at 1-888-801-8585 or email us by clicking here.