Four children were injured on Wednesday after the minivan they were riding in was involved in a hit-and-run crash in Leighton Township, 19 mi south of Grand Rapids. Three of the kids were treated for minor injuries and released the same day, but the fourth one sustained severe injuries and was placed in intensive care. The police noted that all children were properly restrained.
The accident was caused by the driver of a GMC pickup truck that ran a red light and crashed into the back of the Honda minivan. The pickup truck sped away, but the police were quick to locate the vehicle and its driver, a 53-year-old Wayland man. One of the officers noticed the man smelled of alcohol and other signs of intoxication. The man was arrested and once blood test results come in, police expect to charge him with OWI causing serious injury.
How to spot a drunk driver
According to statistics, in Michigan, drunk-driving accidents account for 25% of all traffic fatalities, not to mention the thousands of people injured in OWI crashes. In 2019, over 25,000 Michiganders were arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The only thing a responsible driver can do is try to spot a drunk driver and stay as far away as possible.
Knowledgeable Grand Rapids accident lawyers say that you should suspect a driver is intoxicated if you notice any of the following:
- Difficulty staying in their lane or weaving across the road
- Driving too fast or too slow for the conditions or the posted speed limit
- Erratic braking or stopping
- Driving without headlights on, even when it’s dark outside
- Straddling the centerline or driving on the wrong side of the road
- Slow or delayed response to traffic signals or road signs
- Swerving or making abrupt turns
- Drifting or drifting off the road
- Struggling to maintain a consistent speed
- Driving with windows down in cold weather to stay alert
- Driving aggressively or recklessly
- Excessive speeding or driving in a manner that puts others in danger
If you notice something is definitely wrong, you should inform the police right away.
What to do if you’re involved in a drunk-driving crash
Even if there were no warning signs like the ones mentioned above, one look at the other driver may be enough to tell you that the guy is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. You may feel very angry, but you must keep calm. Do not confront the intoxicated driver. However, you can voice your concern to any witness. Their testimony could be very helpful when you file a personal injury claim.
While you wait for the police, watch if the other driver removes alcohol containers or drug paraphernalia from the vehicle. If you see them dumping a suspicious bag in a ditch, make sure to point it out to the police.
Keep in mind that Michigan has two types of drunk driving offenses. The most commonly known is Operating while Intoxicated or OWI and is based on breathalyzer test results. However, there’s also OWVI, which stands for Operating while Visibly Intoxicated. A driver can be charged with OWVI even if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit. It is up to the police officer to decide after careful observation and perhaps a sobriety test if that person was fit to drive or not, no matter the result of the breathalyzer or blood test.
The driver’s BAC plays an important part when you sue them for damages. If the driver had a high BAC, your lawyers can use that to seek exemplary damages. Under Michigan law, exemplary damages are awarded to the plaintiff for “especially despicable behavior” on the part of the defendant.
Have you been injured in a drunk-driving crash in Michigan?
If you or a loved one were injured in a drunk-driving crash, the experienced attorneys at the Neumann Law Group can help. Our personal injury attorneys have many years of experience working on such cases. Through our dedicated representation, we have secured significant compensation for our injured clients and their families. To learn more and schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at 800-525-6386.