Are Drunk And Distracted Driving Accidents Legally Different Than Regular Accidents?

With the recent crackdown on texting while driving in Florida, the dangers of distracted driving have gained renewed attention. Until recently, drivers could text behind the wheel and get away with it, provided they weren’t pulled over for something else. Now, drivers can be pulled over simply because they were seen texting.

While this law will likely prevent a great number of fatal accidents, there are too many ways for a driver to become distracted to ban all of them. Eating, shaving, putting on makeup, or even just changing the radio station can preoccupy a driver long enough to cause an accident. But when an accident does occur, the multitasking driver rarely faces penalties that are proportionate to the danger he or she caused.

While the stigma of drunk driving is well deserved, not all sober drivers are safe drivers. Many preventable accidents are caused by risk-taking behaviors that aren’t explicitly illegal.

Drunk and Distracted Driving Accidents Versus Regular Accidents

Whether you’re a drunk driver or distracted one, you’re liable for traffic violations you commit and accidents you cause. This is true whether you’re texting, applying makeup, or finishing off a six-pack of beer behind the wheel of a car. And contrary to popular belief, distracted driving is not necessarily better than drunk driving in terms of safety.

However, there are legal differences between an accident caused by breaking the law and an accident caused by ignoring common sense. Driving under the influence, likely the most infamous traffic violation and one of the most dangerous, carries incredibly steep penalties. This is true whether the driver gets caught before causing an accident or after it’s too late, although the harshest penalties are reserved for the latter case.

With the exception of texting while driving, there aren’t as many laws that restrict distracted driving in the state of Florida. This is true despite the fact that Florida ranks among the top states for distracted driving accidents. The dangers of distracted driving are comparable, if not equivalent, to the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Given this, an injured victim of a distracted driver could potentially use evidence of distraction to bolster an insurance claim or, in an extreme case, a personal injury lawsuit. However, it’s much harder to prove that the person was distracted than it is to prove that they were drunk. Distractions don’t leave detectable traces in a driver’s breath or blood, and all too often, these preventable accidents come out looking like honest mistakes.

Distracted driving is never okay. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, it’s important that you talk to an attorney who can handle a personal injury case or negotiations with insurance companies. Katherine has years of experience doing both of these things for many of her clients. Schedule a free consultation by phone, email, or text message to get started today.