Washington, DC is one of the few places in the US that uses the pure contributory negligence law.
Washington, DC – The legal limit for drinking is 21 in Washington, DC, therefore a driver under that age cannot have any alcohol in their system. For adult drivers, the law on intoxicated driving is very complicated and differentiates between three categories of impairment.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) – If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, they can be charged with DWI, even if they seem perfectly capable of driving and are not involved in an accident.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – If a driver has a BAC of .07 or lower, they may face a DUI charge if the police officer decides their ability to drive was impaired. This is because people process alcohol differently and someone may be unfit to drive even if they’ve had just a little to drink. The police officer will charge a driver with DUI if that individual’s behavior seems erratic or if they fail a sobriety test, such as having to walk in a straight line.
Operating While Impaired – This is a lesser charge than DUI and there are no BAC limits. It all depends on the police officer’s impression that a driver’s ability is impaired by either drugs or alcohol.
If you were involved in a crash caused by an impaired driver, you must seek counsel from experienced Washington, DC DWI accident lawyers right away. The fact that the driver was impaired can be used to prove negligence, which is essential in a personal injury claim. Your lawyers will also have to show how the accident happened to prove that it was the other driver who was to blame if you don’t want to lose your right to recover damages.
How does the contributory negligence law influence DWI accident claims?
Washington, DC is one of the few places in the US that uses the pure contributory negligence law. Under this law, you cannot recover any damages if you are even slightly to blame for a car accident.
Let’s say the other driver had a BAC of .32 or four times the legal limit. The guy was so drunk that he lost control of the car and smashed into you. You may think you’re perfectly entitled to seek damages for your injuries. Yet, if it emerges that you were fiddling with the stereo or arguing with your kid in the backseat at the time of the crash, the insurance adjuster may argue you were a bit distracted and this makes you 5% to blame. This is all it takes for you to lose damages, no matter how badly you were injured. The other driver may even go to jail, but you still don’t get damages.
How can you recover damages for a drunk driving accident in Washington, DC?
The best thing you can do is to contact seasoned Washington, DC accident lawyers and let them be in charge of all communications with the insurance company. Washington, DC has a no-fault insurance policy, which allows you to collect damages under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. How much you can recover depends on the type of coverage you have. With minimum coverage, you may not get enough money to pay your hospital bills and compensate for your lost wages. Also, PIP does not include damages for your pain and suffering. If you have sustained severe injuries that cause you a lot of pain and require prolonged medical care, you may have to sue the other driver.
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