Schools Tackle Prom Drinking Risk
Schools around the country attempt to confront the issue of student drunk driving, especially in the spring around prom season. One way to try to prevent teen drinking and driving is to talk to kids about the dangers while they are still young. Many high schools bring in a speaker, often a family member of someone killed by a drunk driver, or even a sorrowful drunk driver himself. There are also a variety of groups dedicated to educating young people about the dangers of alcohol and automobiles. Groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and even student groups of Students Against Drunk Driving can help spread this message to students.
But a Baldwin high school, West St. Mary, located in St. Mary Parish, chose an even more attention-grabbing method. Instead of an assembly, the school involved students, Baldwin fire rescue workers, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s deputies, Louisiana State Troopers and even a hearse from a local funeral home to put together a mock car accident.
Many students wiped away tears as they watched, and some walked away before the entire situation played out, unable to bear the emotion. This gave the students a first hand account of the horrors that are associated with drunk driving.
According to The Daily Iberian
Assistant District Attorney Vincent Borne also spoke to the students, explaining in an accident such as the staged event, the driver of the vehicle at fault could potentially be sentenced to 30 years in prison, and faced a minimum prison term of two years if convicted for vehicular homicide while driving drunk.
Indeed, a drunk driving accident has many legal consequences, even beyond the criminal law penalties that people usually consider. A victim of the crash will most likely need legal representation in order to handle insurance claims and disputes and navigate the justice system if damages are to be sought.
Louisiana law permits a victim injured by an intoxicated driver to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages that a jury or judge can award against a drunk driver or his or her insurer in addition to actual damages such as medical costs, lost earnings, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, etc.
In order to prove a claim for punitive damages for impaired driving, Louisiana Civil Code Article 2315.4 requires proof of three (3) elements:
- That the driver was intoxicated or had consumed a sufficient quantity of intoxicants to make him lose normal control of his mental and physical faculties;
- That the intoxication was a cause-in-fact of the resulting injury; and
- Wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others.
These elements of proof are questions of fact to be determined by a judge or jury.
Our firm is happy to West St. Mary and other proactive high schools help educate teenagers to the horrors of drinking and driving in hopes of reducing these tragic accidents. The best way to attack this problem is education and understanding.