With all the festivities in the summertimes, gatherings and social events are happening all the time. But this means more people are drinking with friends and driving home drunk. The highest rate of drunk driving accidents occur in the summer months with August having the highest number. Holidays are also culprits for increased drunk driving accidents; namely, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and New Years Eve.
About one third of all annual drunk driving fatalities occur in the summertime. In addition to holidays and seasonal increases, drunk driving accidents also have a particularly higher frequency rate at night during the summer. About 60% of all drunk driving motor collisions happen after dark.
If you or your loved one was injured or killed in a St. Petersburg drunk driving accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Our St. Petersburg drunk driving accident attorneys can assess your case and give you straightforward legal advice. Whether you need to negotiate with insurance companies, file a personal injury claim, or a wrongful death lawsuit, we can help you decide on the best course and devise a strategy to get the best outcome.
Why Drunk Driving Accidents Increase in the Summertime
Summertime is fun. its party season. With holidays like Fourth of July that are heavily associated with drinking, drunk driving accidents are bound to increase. The fourth of July is one of the most dangerous days to drive in the entire year, according to the NHTSA. While the normal accident rate involving impaired driving is about 30-35%, fourth of July drunk driving rates spike up to 47%, with many people driving with a BAC over the legal limit of .08%.
Summer Drunk Driving Statistics in the US and St. Petersburg
The National National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports about 28 daily drunk driving fatalities. Drunk driving increases in the summertime due to more people vacationing and drinking at special events. The months with the highest rates of drunk driving accidents in St. Petersburg are May, June, July, and August. Additionally, the fourth of July weekend is one of the most dangerous weekends to be on the road due to impaired drivers.
Summertime drunk driving fatalities account for a large portion of all drunk-driving related deaths. According to one study, about 30% of all drunk driving fatalities are projected to occur this summer in 2023. According to another survey, about 1.5 million people get arrested for DUI charges every year.
Reports from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that drunk driving accidents nearly double in the summertimes compared to the rest of the year. The most frequent day of the week for drunk driving accidents is Saturday, with the most dangerous hours being between 12 midnight and 3am.
Younger drivers have a higher likelihood of driving drunk and getting into an accident due to their lack of experience and poor judgment. They may be less familiar with the effects of alcohol and less apt to handle the negative side effects, especially while driving. Studies show that males are more likely than females to drive drunk and speed.
Drunk driving is a known and serious threat to traffic safety, and an on-going public health concern. Despite the known dangers of drinking and driving, people continue to do it at alarmingly high rates. State laws and penalties don’t seem to prevent people from deciding to drink and drive. In most states, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC higher than .08%. The higher a person’s BAC, the their motor skills and judgment will be impaired.
Recent Drunk Driving Accidents in St. Petersburg
- In May of 2023 a man was charged with a DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide after a deadly crash in Clearwater, Florida. The drunk driver crashed into a crane that was parked in a construction zone on US highway 19. Clearwater Police Department reported that the driver was speeding when he got into an initial rear-end accident, followed by the second collision that killed a 37 year-old passenger.
- In June 2023, an 18-year old drunk driver was charged with DUI manslaughter. According to The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the teen driver was traveling at high speed and ran a red light before crashing into a car and killing a 74-year old driver.
- Another woman was charged with a DUI following a Madeira Beach crash involving a Pinellas County deputy. The driver showed signs of impairment and was charged with DUI property damage and a DUI with personal injury charges.
What Is Vehicular Assault?
Vehicular assault is defined in St. Petersburg, and many other states, as causing harm to others or threatening to harm them while driving while under the influence. Florida Statute 782.071 defines vehicular homicide as killing someone while driving. The penalties can range from first degree felony to second degree felony. The statute also allows for the injured victims’ surviving family the right of action for civil damages.
Florida Statute Chapter 316 Section 192 outlines specifications for reckless driving, which also constitutes drunk driving.
What Are the Consequences for Drunk Driving in St. Petersburg?
While some states use DUI and DWI interchangeably (Driving while impaired), Florida uses the term DUI. A drunk driver who causes an accident will get a DUI (Driving under the influence charge) and possibly face other criminal charges. By law in Florida, the drunk driver who hit or injured you can get a DUI charge as long as they were impaired and operating a vehicle. However, as the injury victim, you have the burden of proof. Meaning, you must prove that the driver was drunk and caused your injuries. Our legal team of experienced St. Petersburg drunk driving accident attorneys can help you clearly establish liability and collect all the necessary evidence to support your claim.
The drunk driver who caused your injuries may also face the following procedures, but criminal proceedings are separate and unaffected by civil procedures: arrest, booking, bail, arraignment, preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, trial, plea bargains, sentencing, or appeals. They may also face felony charges, prison sentences, and hefty fines, depending on their DUI history.
Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings for Drunk Driving Accidents in St. Petersburg
Drunk driving is a criminal offense and therefore drunk drivers in St. Petersburg who cause accidents in Petersburg may face criminal penalties. Furthermore, the injured party or surviving family members of a drunk driving fatality have the right to seek legal counsel to assist them with a civil suit against the drunk driver for negligence. They may also seek financial compensation for their losses through a civil action.
The criminal penalties for drunk driving include jail time, license revocation, license suspension, fines, community service, or court-ordered classes. Criminal proceedings do not seek financial damage compensation for injury victims or their families.
If an injured victim wishes to seek compensation, they must do so through a personal injury lawsuit. Even if the negligent driver has been cleared of criminal charges, the injury victim can still hold the driver accountable through a personal injury claim.
Civil cases require skilled St. Petersburg drunk driving accident attorneys who understand the law and know how to effectively handle these cases. The most important part of a drunk driving accident claim is to establish liability. An attorney can help you do this and recover compensatory damages such as lost income, medical expenses, and other financial losses you suffered due to the accident.
The drunk driver’s criminal charges will be separate from the civil case and will not affect the civil case. Although the drunk driver did commit a criminal offense and cause harm, the two proceedings are separate. We encourage you to seek legal counsel from an experienced st. Petersburg car accident attorney who can help make sure you get a fair settlement or award for everything you’ve been through.
Think Twice Before You Drink and Drive
Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize when you or someone else is past the limit. That’s why the best practice is to refrain from driving if you’ve been drinking at all. You can plan to take a cab or have a designated sober driver. This is a very small preventative step everyone can take to prevent fatal accidents and save lives.
Even if you feel alright to drive while you’re a little “buzzed”, scientific evidence suggests that not quite true. Even a slight level of impairment can cause motorists to speed, drive too slow, swerve between lanes, and ignore traffic signs. Even if someone is not drunk, these are all dangerous driving behaviors that can lead to serious accidents. IF you see a driver displaying signs of impairment on the road, try to stay as far away from them as you can. And when you plan to go to summertime festivities, have a transportation plan to ensure everyone stays safe.
St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys Who Fight for Victims of DUI Crashes
Our legal team has been in practice for over 60 years serving clients in St. Petersburg, Riverview, Clearwater, and the Tampa Bay area. We have what it takes to get you the compensation you need and deserve. From the experience and expertise to resources and professional connections, we are one of the leading firms in Florida for a reason.
If you or someone you love was injured by a drunk driver in Florida, you need a legal advocate who will fight aggressively for your rights.
Book your free consultation online today or call/text (727) 381-2300.