Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd.
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Appleton, WI drunk driving accident attorney

For drivers in the state of Wisconsin, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. A driver is considered “under the influence” if his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired. A person may face criminal charges of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) if he or she is found to have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or higher while driving a vehicle. In 2015, the most recent year in which the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported data related to drunk driving, there were 28,790 individuals arrested for OWI in the state, including 275 motorists under the age of 18. The prevalence of drunk driving can be scary to think about, and a car accident caused by an intoxicated driver can lead to serious injuries and wrongful death. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may be able to pursue financial compensation from the driver who negligently operated his or her vehicle while intoxicated.

Wisconsin OWI Conviction Statistics

Arrest data has shown us that 93% of the drivers convicted of OWI in 2015 were at least 21 years old. Looking further into the OWI conviction numbers for registered drivers, we find that:

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Green Bay drunk driving accident injury lawyerDriving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the most dangerous activities any motorist can involve themselves in. Accidents that transpire from drunk driving can result in severe injuries or death. In fact, drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death in car accidents throughout the United States. Anyone who has been involved in a drunk driving accident should seek legal help from an attorney who can help them understand their options for recovering compensation for their damages. As a motorist and member of your community, you can also take steps to help prevent drunk driving wherever possible. 

Responding to a Drunk Driver

As a bystander, pedestrian, passenger, or fellow motorist, you can help keep yourself and others safe by identifying people who are driving under the influence of alcohol. Common signs such as swerving, making improper turns, not obeying traffic laws, and poor braking procedures are all indicators that a driver is inebriated. If you happen to come across any of these behaviors, reporting the driver to the police could save an innocent life.

Best Practices for Preventing Drunk Driving

Having a night out on the town with some friends, attending an event, celebrating a special occasion, or going out on a date are all common reasons why people consume alcohol. For people under the age of 21, Wisconsin’s “zero tolerance” law makes it illegal for a minor to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol. For adults 21 and over, the legal limit for BAC (blood alcohol content) while driving is 0.08%. While the threat of being arrested for OWI (operating while intoxicated) may discourage drunk driving, the responsibility to operate a vehicle safely falls on the motorist. The following tips can help avoid the possibility of someone being injured in a car accident by a drunk driver:

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Green Bay drunk driving accident lawyer

Drunk driving is illegal in all 50 states, and the consequences are very serious if a person is caught driving under the influence. Drunk drivers do not only put themselves at risk when they get behind the wheel, but they also endanger everyone else on the road. While people’s opinions about how much alcohol is necessary for them to be considered “drunk,” the law is very clear about the level of intoxication at which it is illegal to drive.

What Are the Wisconsin Laws Regarding Drunk Driving?

The state of Wisconsin has a specific definition of what is considered drunk driving, and there is little room for ambiguity. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, it is illegal for someone 21 and over to operate a car, truck, or other motor vehicle under the following conditions:

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Appleton drunk driving car accident lawyerOn April 5th, 2019, three people were fatally injured in a car accident outside of the Village of Bristol. The three passengers were killed when a drunk driver who was traveling at speeds over 100 mph rear-ended their vehicle, causing the car to flip into a ditch. The tragic accident was a sobering reminder of the dangers of drunk driving. If a member of your family is injured in a drunk driving accident, you should seek out legal assistance right away. 

Drunk Driving Injury Statistics 

Throughout 2017, one American was fatally injured every 48 minutes in a motor vehicle collision involving a drunk driver. In all, a shocking 10,874 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2017. Here in the state of Wisconsin, drunk driving is one of the leading factors contributing to car accidents. According to statistics compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 2,872 people were injured in drunk driving accidents statewide in 2015. Of those injured, 190 people ultimately lost their lives due to the injuries suffered. Throughout that year, alcohol was a contributing factor in 34% of all Wisconsin traffic deaths.

How Drinking Impacts a Driver 

When a driver makes the negligent decision to consume alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel of a car, they are putting their own life and the lives of others at risk. First and foremost, drinking can significantly impact a person’s motor skills, resulting in substantial declines in coordination. Alcohol consumption can also diminish a person’s reaction time, decision making, and vision. Even if the driver is operating their vehicle in a responsible manner (obeying speed limits and staying in their lane), the diminished motor skills increase the likelihood of a collision. 

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Wisconsin drunk driving accident attorneysEach year, an estimated 10,000 deaths occur because of drunk driving. Scientific experts, who say that these deaths are “completely preventable,” recently issued a report that encourages states to take another look at their drunk driving thresholds. If their suggestion to lower the current BAC threshold is headed, the number of criminal drunk driving cases in the United States could dramatically increase. Drunk driving accident victims, who often have to fight for fair compensation after a crash with a drunk driver, may also start to experience better overall outcomes in their personal injury cases. 

Changes to the BAC Threshold May Be on the Horizon 

Although drunk driving was first ruled as “illegal” in 1910, efforts to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths did not truly start until the early 1980s. Before that, around half of all traffic deaths had been attributed to an intoxicated driver. Over the next 30 years, those deaths would decrease by half; the enactment of a national per se law that made it illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, irrespective to any signs of intoxication, was an instrumental part in this decline of drunk driving deaths. 

Sadly, experts say the numbers have grown stagnant in some states and are rising in others. They believe that a lower BAC threshold of 0.05 could drive the numbers back down. One state, Utah, has already enacted such a law, but it is not set to take effect until December of 2018. 

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Appleton Office
800 North Lynndale Drive
Appleton, WI
54914-3017
(920) 739-7366
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Green Bay Office
2740 South Oneida Street
Green Bay, WI
54304-5751
(920) 468-7366
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New London Office
105 East Waupaca Street
New London, WI
54961-1227
(920) 982-9652
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Oshkosh Office
510 North Koeller Street
Oshkosh, WI
54902
(920) 385-0616
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  • Wisconsin Association for Justice
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • American Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice
Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. is located in Appleton, Wisconsin, and serves clients in Fox Valley, Outagamie County, Brown County, Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, Sheboygan County, Fond du Lac County, Calumet County, Winnebago County, including Appleton, New London, Clintonville, Neenah, Oshkosh, DePere, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette, Neenah, Chilton, Menasha, Shawano, Waupaca, Wausau, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
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