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West Virginia sees a drop in fatalities from drunk drivers

Drivers in West Virginia may not have known that December was "Impaired Driving Prevention Month." Around the country, the number of fatal car accidents that involve drunk drivers seems to be declining. In our state, the number of accidents attributed to drunk drivers has declined significantly. Many believe that this reduction is at least partially due to the police taking a pro-active role in apprehending impaired drivers.

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of accidents involving alcohol decreased from a high of 2,770 in 2008 to 1,647 in 2010. Of all of the fatal accidents that took place in West Virginia between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of those accidents that involved impaired drivers went from 34 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2010. No data is yet available for 2011, but these decreases are on par with a neighboring state and national trends.

Across the country, drunk driving fatalities decreased 2.5 percent in 2011. Again, this is contributed to police making it a priority to catch drunk drivers before they hurt themselves or anyone else. One alarming statistic shows that for 2009, 70 percent of the fatal car accidents involved impaired drivers that either had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher or already had a record of DWIs. Approximately two million people nationwide have been convicted of DWI at least three times, and around 400,000 have five or more DWI convictions.

People that have been involved in accidents with drunk drivers may have encountered some of those who have multiple convictions. This fact is often frustrating for those who are injured or for the families of someone killed by a drunk driver. Filing either a personal injury claim or wrongful death action against a driver in an alcohol-related accident may help victims and their families feel as if they are achieving a sense of justice they may not feel from the criminal justice system. In addition, filing a civil action also provides an opportunity to seek recovery of some of the financial losses caused by these accidents.

Source: Parkersburg News and Sentinel, "DUI fatalities down nationwide," Pamela Brust, Dec. 27, 2012

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