Additional Damages Punish Drunk Drivers in Virginia

Virginians are injured in car accidents caused by drunk drivers far too often.  A recent survey by the Virginia Highway Safety Office found that there were 7,591 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the Commonwealth during 2015.  If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver, you may understandably feel a lot of anger and a sense of injustice. Fortunately, you may be entitled to additional damages to punish drunk drivers in Virginia.

The statistics amount to over 20 alcohol-related crashes a day.  Even more alarming are the study’s statistics regarding fatalities.

While alcohol-related crashes amounted to approximately 6 percent of all accidents in Virginia during 2015, they accounted for 34 percent of all accident deaths.  In 2015, 241 people were killed as a result of drunk driving in Virginia.

damages punish drunk drivers in Virginia

Punitive damages punish drunk drivers in Virginia

That’s 241 sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and friends whose lives were cut short due to drunk driving.  As a lawyer at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, I regularly witness the tragic consequences of drunk driving as I help my clients who have been terribly hurt or families who have lost a loved one, through the difficult process of holding the at-fault driver responsible for his or her actions.

Unfortunately, increased criminal punishment for DUI offenses has not had the effect of keeping drunk drivers off the road.  Every day, criminal defendants are sentenced to jail time by judges in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News.

Still, people continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated.  Nor has the development of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft significantly decreased the number of DUI deaths in Virginia.  We as a community need to send an even stronger message that we are tired of drunk driving and its awful effects, and as criminal penalties do not seem to be getting the message across, it is time that we focus on financial penalties.

Damages Punish Drunk Drivers in Virginia – Punitive Damages

Virginia law authorizes the award of “punitive” damages up to $350,000 against a drunk driver under certain circumstances.  These damages are intended to punish drunk drivers in Virginia and to deter others in the community from driving drunk.

Those injured by drunk drivers have a right to have their cases heard by a jury composed of people from our communities and we need to send a harsh message that drunk driving will not be tolerated by awarding punitive damages.  Not all cases qualify for punitive damages. This measure is reserved for drivers who refused to take a BAC test, or had a Blood/Alcohol content of .15 percent or above.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver and want assistance in sending a clear message that Hampton Roads will no longer tolerate drunk driving, please contact me at (757) 455-0077 so we can work together to hold drunk drivers responsible and protect our neighbors.

Griff O'Hanlon

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