Drunk driving is both dangerous and illegal. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three traffic deaths in the United States involves a drunk driver. Despite the increased enforcement of drunk driving laws and expanded media campaigns, drunk driving crashes continue to occur with frequency and to cause injuries and fatalities nationwide, and Nebraska is no exception. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to a drunk driver, you may be entitled to seek compensation that can help you pay for the unexpected expenses that you are likely facing in the aftermath of your accident. Working with an experienced attorney can help.
Drunk Driving Statistics in Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) reports the following statistics regarding drunk driving:
- The number of alcohol-related crashes in Nebraska has exceeded 1,600 per year every year since 2008. Of those years, 2008 had the most crashes, with 1,908, followed by 1,822 in 2011.
- In 2017, the most alcohol-related crashes in Nebraska occurred in December, with 161. In 2016, August experienced the most alcohol-related crashes, with 167.
- The estimated cost of all alcohol-related crashes in Nebraska in 2017 was $155,646,800. This number includes wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damages, and uninsured employer costs in crashes that involved employees.
- Of all of the alcohol-related crashes in 2017, a mere 2 percent involved only property damage. 27 percent of the crashes involved non-fatal disabling injuries, visible but non-disabling injuries, and possible injuries.
- Alcohol played a role in 30 percent of Nebraska’s fatal crashes in 2017.
- Nebraska experienced 71 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2017. 243 individuals suffered disabling injuries from drunk driving accidents, and another 395 suffered visible but non-disabling injuries.
- The CDC reports that, along with the rest of the nation, most drunk driving fatalities in Nebraska occur among people aged 21 to 34 years old. In 2012, the incidence of drunk driving deaths in Nebraska for this age group is 6.5 per 100,000 people.
- Drivers aged 21 to 24 years old are involved in 18.2 percent of the alcohol-related crashes in Nebraska, and drivers aged 15 to 20 are involved in 11 percent of the state’s alcohol-related crashes.
- In 2017, the average blood alcohol content (BAC) of individuals whose licenses were immediately suspended due to the state’s administrative license revocation (ALR) laws was .165 percent.
- The CDC’s 2012 statistics indicate that women are slightly more likely than men to die in an alcohol-related crash.
- The CDC reported that 3.4 percent of adults admitted that they have driven a car after drinking too much in the past 30 days.
State Laws Regarding Drunk Driving
Under Nebraska law, it is illegal for individuals 21 and older to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is 0.08 percent or higher, for those under 21 to drive with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher, and for commercial drivers to operate their vehicles with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. Depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the arresting officer and/or judge, drivers may be cited for driving under the influence (DUI) even if their BAC was below the legal limit at the time of arrest.
As provided by NDOT, the following is a brief history of the state’s drunk driving laws:
- 1993: The state passed its administrative license revocation (ALR) law.
- 1994: The state law that established a BAC of .02 percent as the legal limit for underage drivers went into effect.
- 1999: The state passed a law banning open containers in motor vehicles.
- 2001: The state lowered the legal limit for non-commercial drivers over the age of 21 to a BAC of .08 percent.
- 2005 to 2006: The state enhanced penalties for repeat DUI offenders.
- 2008: The state began enforcing a law regarding “dram shops” for drivers under 21.
- 2009: The state established a legal requirement for ignition interlocks for those who have been convicted of DUI.
- 2013: The state enhanced its ignition interlock provisions, including the addition of a mandatory 45 days driver license suspension.
Filing a Personal Injury Suit Against a Drunk Driver
When you’re injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, you have three options for seeking compensation: (1) file a claim through your insurance company; (2) file a third party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company; or, if the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, (3) file a lawsuit.
Drunk drivers who injure others not only face criminal consequences—including a suspended license, jail time, fines, and more—but also they may face a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. If you were injured by a drunk driver, you can seek compensation for the following damages:
- Property damages
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning ability
- Pain and suffering
If you lost a loved one due to a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the following:
- Wrongful death
- Loss of consortium
- Compensatory damages
- Loss of future income your loved one would have contributed to your household
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim against a drunk driver in Nebraska is four years from the date of the accident. If your loved one was killed in a drunk driving accident, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim. The state does not cap the amount of damages that victims may recover; however, the state does apply a modified comparative negligence rule to personal injury lawsuits. The legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence mandates that if you were partially at fault for your accident, your damages award will be reduced according to your level of liability. Furthermore, if a court determines that you were more than 50 percent liable for your accident, then you are barred from recovering any compensation at all.
Nebraska Drunk Driving in the News
According to a 2018 report from ABC affiliate KHGI, police in Grand Island, Nebraska, cite an increase in DUI incidents that involve illegal drugs. In fact, the report notes that there have been 81 DUI drug cases in Grand Island thus far in 2018. Drugs are involved in 39 percent of the DUI cases in that area, compared to just 16 percent four years ago. The department claims that the increase in DUI offenses involving cannabis stems from neighboring Colorado’s legalization of marijuana in 2014. However, the department stressed that DUI offenses don’t just involve alcohol or illicit drugs. An individual who is impaired by the use of prescription medication, including antidepressants and painkillers, can also be arrested and convicted of DUI. Grand Island has the highest incidence of DUI drug cases in the state, and Nebraska ranks the highest in the nation for percentage of drunk drivers on the road, according to the report.
As reported in April 2018 by NBC affiliate WOWT, a woman survived a rear-end crash in which the other driver fled the scene. Later, police informed her that they had arrested the at-fault driver, that this was his tenth time being arrested for DUI, and that he had been driving without a license. The woman suffered a large gash on the back of her head, among other injuries, and she was concerned about what would happen when the man was released from custody—would he continue driving without a license and while intoxicated?
In October 2018, a 21-year-old man died in a two-vehicle crash north of Omaha, after his vehicle was struck by a suspected drunk driver. According to a report from the Omaha World-Herald, a 28-year-old Iowa man driving a pickup truck was traveling east when he drifted into the westbound lanes and collided with the deceased man’s vehicle. A 21-year-old passenger in the victim’s vehicle suffered critical injuries in the collision. The driver who caused the accident was checked for injuries, and officers noticed signs of alcohol impairment. He arrested and charged with felony motor vehicle homicide.
According to a May 2018 report from USA Today, Lincoln, Nebraska, ranks among the drunkest cities in the country. It was the only metropolitan city in Nebraska to make the list, coming in at number 17. The report notes the 26,000 students attending the University of Nebraska, which likely contributes to the high alcohol consumption rate. More than a quarter of the driving deaths in Lincoln involve alcohol, and the adults in Nebraska are some of the most likely to drink excessively, according to a review of 381 U.S. cities conducted by 24/7 Wall Street.
Compensation for the Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents
At the Robert Pahlke Law Group, we have experience representing victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents, and our firm would be happy to seek justice on your behalf. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, with over 85 years of combined experience, we can provide the skillful representation that you need to secure compensation for the full cost of your injuries. While no one can place a monetary value on your suffering and recovery, we can help you pursue compensation that covers your physical, emotional, and financial losses. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to learn more about your eligibility to seek compensation.