Anyone who drives while drunk or ‘driving under the influence’ (DUI) is a serious crime, an often deadly mistake, and something that puts everyone on the road at risk. Yet, it is one of the most common causes of Missouri auto accidents despite all efforts to prevent people from engaging in such harmful and hazardous behavior. The main reason is that most drivers who choose to drive drunk don’t even realize that this is what they’re doing. This is where the National Highway Safety Administration’s slogan, ‘Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving‘ comes from. It is needed to educate drivers and to really press the message into their conscious and subconscious minds that even being buzzed is dangerous behind the wheel, since so many auto accidents in Missouri and throughout the US leave the at-fault driver thinking, ‘but I wasn’t really drunk.’
What Determines Whether or Not a Driver is Technically Drunk?
Nobody under the age of 21 is legally allowed to drink alcohol in Missouri. Thus, any driver who is under this age can be arrested if they’ve consumed any alcohol at all. When it comes to drivers who have been drinking in Kansas City, Missouri, and who are over the age of 21, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08. If a driver has a BAC of .08 or greater than .08, then he or she is considered to be intoxicated and can be arrested for a driving under the influence. When an auto accident occurs, the BAC of the at-fault driver is often directly related to how severe and/or deadly the accident is. This is because the more intoxicated the driver is, the more likely they are to make serious and fatal mistakes. They are also more likely to fail to respond appropriately when anything goes wrong on the road.
What Laws and Penalties Are Related to Drunk Driving in Missouri?
When someone drinks and drives, under the age of 21 or when someone has a BAC at .08 or greater, then that person
can face DUI charges in Missouri. This comes with serious penalties, which includes steep fines, getting their license suspended or revoked, and/or spending time in jail. The severity of the punishment will depend on multiple factors. One of these factors is whether or not the driver caused an accident, how serious that accident was, and/or whether the person has prior DUI offenses, and is therefore a repeat offender.
Missouri does not have a law that prohibits open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, as most states do, so that if passengers are drinking within the vehicle, the driver will not get into any trouble as long as he or she is not also drinking. This is not true throughout Missouri, however, since different localities can put such laws into place themselves, and 31 localities in Missouri have done so. It is important to know the laws in your area. While many localities prohibit drinking in public at all, Kansas City, Missouri allows for this and for open containers in vehicles.
Further, there is a Dram Shop Law in Missouri, where ‘dram shop’ refers to any establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol. This law makes it possible for victims of drunk driving auto accidents, and the families of those who are killed in such accidents, to go after the dram shop for compensation, as well. This is applicable to any case where it can be established that the dram shop continued to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person and then allowed that person to get behind the wheel, knowing that the driver was drunk. This is also applicable to any case where a dram shop served alcohol to someone under the age of 21. You do not have to prove, in such cases, that the dram shop knew the age of the person, only that they should have known or that they did not ask for ID before serving alcohol.
How Can You Tell If Another Missouri Driver is Intoxicated?
When someone is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are some key signs to be aware of so that you will know about it and respond appropriately. Sometimes, there are no signs before the accident occurs, but if there are, you may be able to protect yourself and others. For this reason, pay attention to any swerving, any strange speed changes (too slow, too fast), and any aggressive driving behavior. If you see these behaviors, keep your distance, but attempt to get the description and license plate number of the vehicle so that you can alert the authorities to a potential drunk driver on the road.
What Do You Do After A Drunk Driving Auto Accident in Missouri?
If you are unable to prevent an auto accident with a drunk driver in Missouri, then you should contact the police immediately after the accident occurs, and let them know if emergency medical assistance is required. Because a drunk driver may wish to flee the scene to avoid the consequences associated with their crime, you should try to make a note of their vehicle description and license plate number, if possible. You can also gather the contact information of witnesses and get this information from them, if you did not see it yourself. You should further take photographs of all evidence that may be relevant, including the positions of the vehicles, the traffic and road conditions, any injuries that occurred, and anything else that might help you when it comes time to prove your case and recover compensation.
Contact the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm for a Free Consultation
An auto accident with a drunk driver can be devastating, traumatic, and life altering. You may be dealing with severe injuries, disabilities, multiple surgeries, and prolonged period of recovery. You may have to take a lot of time off of work to recover. This means that you could be facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, lost wages, and medical expenses. Beyond that, you have the pain and suffering, the psychological trauma, and the potential grief associated with the loss of a loved one, along with their burial and funeral expenses and lost income and companionship. Nobody can do anything to make the situation completely right, again. No amount of money will replace what you’ve lost or fully compensate the pain that you have endured. However, you can seek compensation for all of these financial and non-financial losses with the help of an experienced Missouri auto accident attorney. Call the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.