Despite all the warnings, the dangers and the risks, it appears as though drivers continue to operate motor vehicles after they have been drinking. Drinking and driving is undeniably a deadly combination. The minute you make the drunk driver a teenager, the risk to both the occupants of the car the teenager is driving and everyone else on the road skyrockets. Statistics tell us that 40% of all alcohol related fatal car crashes involved teenage drivers, yet teenagers account for only about 6% of the licensed drivers on the road. Clearly, they are involved in a disproportionate number of alcohol related fatal accidents. Luckily for a Petaluma, California family, the intoxicated teenage driver that crashed into them last Saturday didn’t add to the “fatal” accident statistics.
Gabriel Lanusse was driving his wife, Kristine, and their two children home last Saturday night in the family’s 2005 Honda minivan. The family was stopped at a light on Lakeville Highway and Frates Road, when Kristine recalls seeing a vehicle speeding eastbound on Lakeville Highway. The vehicle then made a wide left-hand turn onto Frates Road and crashed head on into the Lanusse family minivan. Although the Lanusse family’s minivan was totaled, the only serious injury suffered by the family was that Gabriel sustained a broken arm. The driver of the vehicle that crashed into the minivan was a 17 year teenager who was taken to the hospital with head injuries. Police officials found an open bottle of tequila in the teenager’s vehicle and she will face charges of drinking and driving when she recovers from her injuries.
It is not difficult to understand why teenagers that are drinking and driving are even more dangerous to the nation’s roadways than adults that are drinking and driving. Alcohol slows down our reflexes. Consequently we are unable to react as fast to changing road conditions or emergencies on the road. Teenagers, lack the experience that an adult has behind the wheel and with a drink. Teenagers are proven risks on the roadways without adding in alcohol. They are easily distracted and when an emergency presents itself on the roadway they may not have the maturity or the skills to react appropriately. Teenagers also don’t have any life experience with alcohol. Most adults know when they shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle. They know how alcohol tends to affect them and when they have had enough. Most adults also understand the consequences of drinking and driving better than a teenager. Not just the legal consequences, but the safety consequences as well. If you are a fan of Dr. Phil, then you know that the last part of our brains to fully develop is the part that allows us to understand and appreciate consequences. Therefore, teenagers simply don’t have the mental capacity to understand consequences like and adult can. So when a teenager gets behind the wheel, they may not fully understand that they are operating a 2 ton weapon. Likewise, when they drink alcohol, they may have no idea when to stop or truly understand how little control they really have when they have been drinking. It is truly a horrible and deadly combination.
If you have been involved in an accident and the other driver was arrested for drinking and driving – or you believe that they were drinking and driving, then they may be held responsible for any injuries that you suffered as a result of the accident. Although criminal charges may have been filed, as in the story above, you may still wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. While criminal charges may affect the driver’s freedom and driver’s license, you are unlikely to receive and monetary compensation for your injuries from a criminal case. Contact an experienced California personal injury attorney for an evaluation of your specific accident. Only an experienced California personal injury lawyer can advise you of your options and answer any questions you may have. The attorneys at Ledger & Associates are available online at www.ledgerlaw.com or toll free at 1-800-300-0001.