Several people inside a Virginia restaurant suffered serious injuries when a driver who was later determined to be passed-out drunk plowed through the building. The alcohol-related crash happened on the night of March 10, 2018, but the cause was not confirmed until several days later.
The incident occurred off VA Route 3/Plank Road outside of Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania County. An uninjured restaurant patron told reporters that the driver of the SUV who crashed through the front window was asleep behind the wheel. Evidence later showed that the 52-year-old driver was intoxicated by alcohol.
He currently faces a single charge of driving while impaired. Additional charges may follow.
The wreck seems shocking, but it is far from unique. First, drunk drivers inflict harm in nearly every way imaginable. During 2017, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 7,285 alcohol-related crashes that resulted in 248 deaths and 4,430 injuries. Identifiable driver errors in those collisions were
- Improper lane change
- Avoiding another vehicle
- Avoiding pedestrian
- Failure to yield
- Following too close
- Illegal or improper parking
- Improper backing
- Improper passing
- Improper turn
- Left of center -- Not passing
- Lights not on
- Ran traffic control
- Speed too fast
More than 4.400 alcohol-related crashes in Virginia during 2017 were categorized as having “other” causes.
Then, the nonprofit safety organization that maintains the website StoreFrontCrashExpert.com has documented more than 7,000 crashes into commercial or public buildings, transit stops, public areas and other nonresidential structures between 2013 and 2016. The group lists the leading causes of storefront crashes as operator error such as speeding through a parking lot (30 percent); pedal mistake, which means pressing the accelerator instead of the brake (26 percent); and driving under the influence (17 percent).
Injured victims of people who drive while impaired by alcohol have strong grounds for filing and successfully collecting on personal injury claims. The people injured by the drunk driver in the restaurant in Spotsylvania County may also be able to request punitive damages, which are noncriminal monetary penalties available to individuals who get harmed by reckless and impaired drivers.
The serious storefront DWI crash near Fredericksburg happened exactly one week before a Saturday St. Patrick’s Day. With drunk driving spiking on any weekend and on holidays associated with irresponsible alcohol consumption, my Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I urge all people everywhere to set down their keys if they toast their or others’ Irish heritage on March 17th. The lives they save by staying home, designating a sober driver or relying on cabs and rideshares are worth any expense or inconvenience.