An area man faces multiple charges after he was allegedly intoxicated when he slammed his car into a tree and killed two people.
Witnesses and police state that a driver lost control of his silver car as he tried to pull off the exit ramp of Interstate 35 and onto the service road. Apparently, instead of straightening out the car, he continued at an angle and eventually smashed into a large tree. First responders had to use the Jaws of Life to free the trapped driver, who was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition. The other two passengers in the vehicle were both declared dead at the scene.
The man was charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter. Investigators also believe that excessive speed was a factor in the crash.
Alcohol is a factor in about one-third of the fatal car crashes in South Central Texas. Consuming as little as one drink can cause significant driving impairment, specifically by inhibiting motor skills, impairing judgment and impeding the ability to multitask (e.g. some intoxicated drivers cannot simultaneously watch the speedometer and the road).
Because of the lower standard of proof in civil court – a preponderance of evidence as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt – evidence that a driver had been drinking is normally sufficient to establish impairment.
The dram shop law often applies in alcohol-related cases as well. Texas’ version of the dram shop law prohibits the sale of alcohol to:
- Individuals under 21 years of age; and
- “Visibly intoxicated” persons.
In the first instance, the purchaser’s appearance and the fact that they “looked” over 21 is almost never a defense. In many cases, the presentation of a fraudulent ID card is not a defense either, as most courts have a very low tolerance for underage sales. In the second instance, a plaintiff can introduce circumstantial evidence to establish liability. Observations like bloodshot eyes and slurred speech may not be enough to establish intoxication in criminal court, but they are normally more than enough to establish impairment in civil court.
Damages in a car crash case normally include compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. In some cases, such as an especially high BAC, punitive damages may also be available.
Alcohol-related crashes often involve complicated legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels, contact our office and schedule an appointment. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.