On behalf of The Keating Law Firm, LLC posted in car accidents on Monday, January 11, 2016.

For four straight years starting in 2007, when Louisiana implemented an ignition interlock requirement for people convicted of drunk driving, the state successfully reduced the annual number of fatal DUI accidents, going from 375 DUI deaths in 2007 down to 219 in 2011.

Since then, though, the annual number of fatal DUI wrecks has risen each year, coming to 253 deaths in 2014, the last year for which we have complete data. The statistics also show that the rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths in Louisiana is significantly higher than the national average.

What can Louisianans do to prevent DUI accidents?

The first step is obvious: all drivers should avoid driving while intoxicated. Anyone who drinks and has the option of driving should take the necessary steps to arrange for a sober ride or simply stay put.

Second, we have to be vigilant about educational and law enforcement efforts. The process of keeping drivers informed about the potential consequences of driving drunk is ongoing, as every day young drivers receive their licenses. Each new driver needs to understand the real-life devastation that even a single drunk driving incident can cause.

In fact, young drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in a DUI wreck. According to national statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33 percent of drivers who were over the legal limit in fatal crashes in 2013 were between the ages of 21 and 24. The next largest group consisted of drivers aged 25 to 34.

As for law enforcement, strategic patrols and ignition interlock devices continue to have a significant impact in Louisiana in terms of keeping drunk drivers off the road.

Statistics are one thing; the effect on victims’ lives is another.

Drunk driving accidents are one area of law where the offender can face criminal and civil penalties. A DUI conviction is not necessary, however, for a victim or a victim’s family to seek justice in a civil capacity, although convictions are common and can help strengthen an accident victim’s injury claim.

Louisiana civil law also allows for punitive damages under certain circumstances after a DUI wreck. Punitive damages are financial awards in addition to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Punitive damages can be used to maximize compensation for an accident victim.

A person injured by a drunk driver may face a lifetime of medical problems, and the family members of a deceased accident victim may have little other legal recourse than to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.

For more on these matters, please see the Keating Law Firm’s fatal accident overview.

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