Alcohol-impaired driving, or driving under the influence (DUI), is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and motorcyclists’ resultant injuries and deaths. Though many of these accidents are caused by motorcyclists who ride while intoxicated, a great many others are caused by other motorists who drink prior to or while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 30 people die in the United States every day in traffic accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. A large percentage of these crashes are caused by relatively young or middle-aged inebriated motorists. A study cited by the CDC shows that 32% of the drivers with blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels equal to or greater than the legal limit of 0.08% who were involved in fatal accidents in 2012 were between the ages of 21 and 24; another 27% were between the ages of 25 and 34 and another 24% between the ages of 35 and 44. Alcohol-related crashes do not only occur when drivers’ BAC are at or above the legal limit, however. According to another study referenced by the CDC, young people who drive while under the influence of alcohol are at a far greater risk than older drivers—at all levels of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)—of being involved in crashes due to alcohol impairment.

motorcycle dui accidentA graphic illustration of the deadly effects of alcohol-impaired driving (by, in this case, a driver within the 32% category discussed in the CDC-cited study referenced above) is provided by a fatal motorcycle accident that occurred in the early hours of Monday, January 19, 2015. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on that morning, a 50-year-old motorcyclist lost his life when a 23-year-old drunk driver crashed into him from behind on a highway in Raleigh, North Carolina. The young female motorist who hit the motorcyclist is said to have had a BAC of 0.13% (0.05% over the legal limit of 0.08%) a full 4 hours after the crash (when she was found at her home after leaving the scene of the accident) and to have been traveling at an estimated speed of 115 miles per hour before the collision occurred. She is reported to have been charged with felony death by vehicle, felony hit and run causing death, failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision, driving while intoxicated (DWI), and for driving with expired registration plates, no license, and no insurance.

Drivers who cause motorcycle and other vehicle-accident injuries and deaths may be subject to civil as well as criminal liability. Drunk or otherwise alcohol-impaired drivers who are found to have negligently caused another’s vehicle-accident injury or death may be required to pay compensation to the injured person or the deceased person’s survivors. The Motorcycle Injury Firm has extensive experience with motorcycle-accident cases of every variety, including those arising out of accidents caused or contributed to by alcohol-impaired drivers. If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a motorcycle crash involving an inebriated driver, The Motorcycle Injury Firm’s national team of motorcycle-injury lawyers can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

Legal Liability for Motorcycle-accident Injuries and Deaths Caused by Alcohol-impaired Driving

All drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of other drivers and occupants of vehicles with whom they share our roads. Driving while impaired by alcohol or other substances is a violation of that duty (i.e., negligence) under state negligence laws. While driving with a BAC over the legal limit will be found to constitute negligence per se, driving with a BAC under the legal limit may also be found to constitute negligence if the driver is determined to have been sufficiently impaired by alcohol consumption to have suffered adverse effects on reaction time, judgment, and/or other driving skills.

The driver who crashed into the motorcyclist in Raleigh, North Carolina, is reported to have had a BAC of 0.05% over the legal limit of 0.08% four hours after the accident occurred. In order for the driver’s alcohol impairment to be found to constitute negligence causal of the accident and motorcyclist’s resulting death, however, the driver must be shown to have been alcohol-impaired at the time the accident occurred. If the motorcyclist’s survivors can establish, in a wrongful-death action brought by the survivors against the driver, that it is more likely than not that the driver was also alcohol impaired at the time of the accident, the driver’s alcohol impairment may be found to have constituted negligence causal of the motorcyclist’s death. In addition, if the driver is found to have been alcohol-impaired at the time of the accident and her alcohol impairment a cause of the accident and the motorcyclist’s resulting death, a restaurant, bar, or other licensed alcohol-serving establishment that served alcohol to her before the accident and while she was visibly intoxicated may also be found liable for the motorcyclist’s death under the state’s dram-shop law, N.C.G.S.A. §18B-305.

Even if the driver’s BAC at the time the accident occurred cannot be adequately established, the driver may still be found to have been negligent in other ways. Evidence that the driver was moving at a speed of 115 miles per hour at the time the accident occurred and that she crashed into the back of the motorcycle may, even without proof of alcohol impairment at the time of the accident, suffice to establish negligence causal of the accident and result in the driver’s liability for damages suffered by the motorcyclist’s survivors as a result of his death.

Obtain Legal Representation from The Motorcycle Injury Firm

The Motorcycle Injury Firm has helped injured motorcyclists and the families of deceased motorcyclists throughout the United States achieve justice from those who have caused motorcyclists’ preventable injuries and deaths through alcohol-impaired driving, other negligence, or defective motorcycles or other vehicles. If you have been injured or one of your family members has died in a motorcycle accident anywhere in the country, The Motorcycle Injury Firm is ready to fight for you.