Ouachita Parish deputies arrested Brandon Martin, of West Monroe, for driving while intoxicated, “DWI,” on Sunday, February 21. While this incident might seem relatively commonplace, a few aspects of Martin’s arrest make it noteworthy. According to a report by the staff at The News Star:
“When [the deputies] found [Martin], they said he was lying in the rear of the vehicle on top of musical equipment. Two people in the front seat said Martin had been driving.
Deputies said Martin declined a field sobriety test, but submitted to a chemical test that showed his blood alcohol content at .184. A blood alcohol level of .08 is considered intoxicated in Louisiana. The arrest report showed Martin was charged with DWI in 2005, 2007 and 2009.” (emphasis added)
Those emphasized passages make this arrest extraordinary. Mr. Martin was behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit in Louisiana. Even worse, Martin should have known better because he had previously been arrested on multiple occasions for the same conduct. But instead he chose to drive his car while severely intoxicated – again.
Fortunately for area drivers, authorities got Martin off the road this time before he caused an accident and serious injury to others. That may not be the case if Martin is allowed to drive drunk again or if other repeat DWI offenders like Brandon Martin get behind the wheel drunk. According to The Center for Disease Control’s statistics, alcohol-impaired crashes accounted for almost one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. in 2008.
In addition to criminal punishment, these drivers should pay for the injuries they cause. A person who drives a car while intoxicated is presumed to be acting negligently. Therefore, a person injured as a result of a drunk driver’s conduct may be entitled to receive damages to pay for injuries caused by that driver. Drivers with particularly egregious conduct, like Brandon Martin, might also be liable for punitive damages. A court or jury can award that type of damages as a way of punishing a defendant for his extraordinarily bad conduct. Punitive damages are above and beyond any compensatory damages awarded – damages that reflect the actual cost of a plaintiff’s injuries.
Most people probably consider themselves safe drivers, and feel comfortable with their skills behind the wheel. The unfortunate reality, though, is that even the safest drivers can be injured by the negligent conduct of another. Driving does not have to be dangerous. However, people who choose to get drunk then get on the road dramatically reduce the safety of roads and highways for all others who need to use them.
We count on local authorities to keep folks like that off the road. But if you have been injured by a drunk driver or if you would like to speak with someone about your legal rights, the attorneys at The Berniard Law Firm are available to answer any questions you might have.
Have a Great St. Patrick’s Day but please do not Drink and Drive.