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Can a drunk driver be found liable under criminal and civil law?

If there were any doubt whether officials are stepping up their enforcement efforts against drunk driving, the recent arrest of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin should send a warning. Boykin was merely a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a drunk driving accident. Nevertheless, police also arrested Boykin, charging him with marijuana possession and public intoxication.

According to reports, a car in which Boykin was a passenger crashed into a nightclub, injuring at least eight people. Notably, the car had not even entered traffic; the driver was merely backing up at an allegedly excessive rate of speed. In the process, the car struck pedestrians on a sidewalk before crashing into the wall of a nightclub. Fortunately, police reported that none of the injuries was life threatening.

Boykin also had a previous alcohol-related incident to his record, stemming from a 2015 bar fight. To resolve that incident, Boykin plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge. The plea include a one-year probationary period, 80 hours of community service, and a mandatory alcohol awareness course, as well as a $1,500 fine.

As a personal injury firm that has helped many victims of drunk driving accidents, we applaud the efforts of local police in keeping Washington state's roads and highways safe. Alternatives to jail, such as the ones included in Boykin's first sentence, may be effective strategies for deterring drunk driving behaviors and repeat offenders.

In addition to criminal liability, drunk drivers can also be held accountable for any financial compensation owed to other drivers. That is done in a separate civil case, brought by the victim of the drunk driving accident, where evidence of negligence must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

Our personal injury lawyers understand the type of evidence needed to persuade a jury of a drunk driver's negligence. We also are skilled at valuing a victim's damages, in order to maximize his or her request for compensation. To learn more about our personal injury law practice, check out our website. 

Source: ESPN, “Trevone Boykin arrested on marijuana, public intoxication charges,” March 26, 2017

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