If a Drunk Driver Passed Through a DUI Checkpoint and Caused an Accident, Who is Held Responsible?
Drunk driving is a huge problem in South Carolina, and not only for the violators. The state has the second highest number of DUI fatalities in the nation. Many of these fatalities include drivers and passengers in other vehicles. Along with people killed, there are also plenty of injuries related to DUI accidents. Because many of these accidents involve excessive speeds and head-on collisions, the resulting injuries can be severe. A person may even end up with long-term disabilities.
To combat drunk driving, police use DUI checkpoints to weed out intoxicated drivers. While this is a great way to cut down on the frequency of DUI-related accidents, it’s not always effective. Sometimes the police fail to catch intoxicated drivers. But when an accident results, who are held legally responsible?
Understanding DUI Checkpoints
Drunk driving checkpoints have caused a lot of debate regarding a person’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. However, in the case of The Michigan Department of State Police vs. Sitz, the Supreme Court ruled that the importance of keeping drunk drivers off the street outweighs the intrusion a checkpoint places on drivers. While this case made checkpoints generally legal, they still must be carried out in a certain manner. In addition, states can also have their own laws regarding checkpoints.
In South Carolina, checkpoints are legal. However, the police must follow certain guidelines. These include:
- Police must stop drivers at a predictable pattern instead of randomly.
- The length of the checkpoint stop must be brief.
- The checkpoint must serve the public’s interest.
- The checkpoint must be identifiable and safe.
With these guidelines in place, there’s a chance a police officer may rush the procedure and let an intoxicated person pass through the checkpoint. What happens when that person ends up causing an accident that results in injury or death? Who’s responsible?
Liability After a DUI Accident
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, you have a right to bring a personal injury claim against them. This type of claim seeks compensation from the driver’s insurance company for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You may also be awarded punitive damages meant to punish the driver for their criminal behavior. However, if the drunk driver passed through a DUI checkpoint without getting caught, the police may also be partially responsible.
In order for the police to be found liable, your attorney will have to prove an officer was negligent during the checkpoint. This could mean they failed to follow the correct procedures or that they knowingly let an intoxicated driver through the checkpoint. If this is the case, the police department may be liable for some of the damages. This is very difficult to prove, which means you’ll need to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Contact a Rock Hill Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
A DUI accident can turn a person’s life upside down in an instant. If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you deserve compensation. In addition, if the drunk driver was allowed to pass through a DUI checkpoint, the police may be held partially responsible. The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson can evaluate the details of your case and fight for the appropriate compensation. Contact us today at (803) 324-7200 to schedule a consultation.