A single-vehicle crash on Oceana Boulevard in Virginia Beach, VA, left one person dead and police suspecting that the surviving driver was speeding while under the influence of alcohol. According to a press release posted to the city government website, Emergency Services received initial reports of a car running off Oceana Boulevard and slamming into a tree near the intersection with Louisa Avenue at 2:59 am on May 8, 2021.
Police and EMTs found the driver outside the vehicle. The passenger was trapped in the vehicle and died at the scene. News reports indicate that damage to the vehicle was so extensive that “fire crews needed extensive time to remove the passenger.”
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Few other details were made publicly available as the investigation into the fatal collision continued. If evidence shows that the person behind the wheel was driving while intoxicated and exceeding the 35 mph speed limit for Oceana Boulevard, the deceased victim’s family members should have strong grounds for filing wrongful death claims.
Alcohol Use Always Makes Driving a Deadly Danger
Research shows that achieving a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02—the equivalent of consuming a single 12-ounce beer over the course of an hour for most adults—impairs driving performance. Visual acuity, mental focus and the ability to make sound judgments decline from the moment the first drink is taken.
Virginia, like every other state, enforces a legal limit of 0.08 for the BAC of drivers who are older than 21 and who are not operating a commercial vehicle. Statistics kept by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles indicate widespread violations of the law against DWI. During 2019, the DMV recorded 18,648 drunk driving convictions. The agency also received reports of 264 people dying in alcohol-related crashes that year.
Sadly, those numbers may increase for 2020 and 2021. In part due to pandemic-related stress, more Virginians have been abusing alcohol. Even with fewer car trips, the sharp rise in unhealthy drinking could lead to more dangerous driving—and more tragic, avoidable consequences like the fatal collision on Oceana Boulevard.
When the Worst Happens, Family Members Have Legal Options
Drivers have legally enforceable duties to operate safely in order to prevent injuries and deaths. Those responsibilities extend to people outside their vehicles and to passengers inside. Evidence that a driver acted negligently or recklessly by, for example, speeding while driving under the influence of alcohol, makes a driver liable for providing compensation for injuries and wrongful deaths.
Consulting with an experienced and caring plaintiff’s attorney will clarify how to file claims against the at-fault driver. If necessary, a knowledgeable lawyer can guide clients through the process of pursuing uninsured and underinsured motorist claims against the victim’s own car insurance provider.