Posted by Jim Yeargan in DUI Laws on August 13, 2016
Drivers who operate motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol can cause a substantial amount of property damage to not just other motor vehicles but also buildings and other structures. One recent example of the extensive property damage caused by intoxicated motorists occurred recently in Macon, Georgia.
A motorist swerved to avoid a vehicle crossing the center line that was coming into the motorist’s lane and subsequently struck a utility pole. By the time that law enforcement arrived on the scene of the accident, there was only one vehicle left at the accident location. The remaining vehicle’s driver proceeded to refuse medical treatment and was later charged with a DUI.
This accident also caused loss of power for a couple of hundred local residents in the Macon area. While this accident is an example of how widely damaging a DUI accident can be, property damage to a DUI arises in everything from non-serious collisions to more severe accidents involving substantial injuries.
The Award Of Punitive Damages
The term “punitive damages” refers to a type of award presented a court of law in addition to actual damages with the intention of punishing a defendant. In many cases where a DUI accident involves substantial property damage, a jury may award punitive damages with the intention of punishing the defendant and discouraging other members of the community from drunk driving.
While victims of a DUI accident do not face a restriction on the type of damages that can be claimed, many types of accident victims have difficulty demonstrating that the accident warrants an award of punitive damages. One of the ways that a skilled DUI accident attorney can particularly help an accident victim is by gathering evidence to demonstrate that punitive damages should be awarded.
Potential Defenses in DUI Cases Involving Property Damage
When DUIs involve property damage, motor vehicle operators tend to use one of several defenses. Some common defenses utilized by motorists in these situations include:
- Challenge The Methods Used To Test For Alcohol. Regardless of the severity of the DUI accident, it is common in these situations for law enforcement to use breathalyzers and urine tests to detect the presence of alcohol in motor vehicle operators. Many individuals are able to successfully challenge the accurateness of these tests.
- No “Wheel Witness”. Most often when DUI accidents occur, law enforcement must travel to the scene long after the accident has already occurred. In order to establish a DUI charge, however, an officer must demonstrate that an individual accused of the DUI was driving the motor vehicle at the time of the accident. In these situations, a “wheel witness” or party who can testify that the intoxicated individual was driving the motor vehicle at the time of the accident. As a result, motor vehicle operators who are faced with a DUI involving property damage frequently argue there was no wheel witness.
- The Driver’s Behavior Is Not Due To Alcohol Impairment. In many situations, the injuries that arise from a motor vehicle accident mirror the same symptoms caused by alcohol impairment. These conditions include unsteadiness and difficulty with agility. As a result, motorists who face DUI charges involving property damage frequently argue that the driver’s behavior was not caused by alcohol impairment.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident including a DUI offense that resulted in property damage, the services of an experienced DUI accident attorney can prove invaluable. Many individuals in similar situations have reached positive outcomes by retaining the legal services of the talented attorneys at Yeargan & Kert, LLC.