Most of us are aware of the significant consequences that can result from people drinking and getting behind the wheel.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs. It’s a depressant which slows down the body by acting on the central nervous system, affecting physical and mental function. Excessive alcohol can cause cognitive impairment, affecting judgment, memory and reaction time(3).
Drinking alcohol can affect drivers and driving performance by:
• slowing down reaction time — crucial in an emergency situation
• making it difficult to multi-task — an essential skill for safe driving
• causing poor judgment — we may have trouble judging distances, how fast we’re driving and the speed of other vehicles
• reducing attention span — so we don’t notice other drivers and/or vehicles
• affecting vision and hearing — reducing our ability to identify driving hazards
• creating over-confidence — we may feel more confident after a few drinks but in fact, we’re less able to cope with unexpected events. We might take risks that we normally wouldn’t.
Drink driving remains a major contributor to fatalities and injuries on Australian roads, even though a BAC limit has been in place for more than 30 years.
Apart from the social and criminal consequences of injuring or killing a passenger or other third party whilst driving intoxicated, there can be significant financial consequences as well.
In Queensland people that are injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle are able to make a claim for compensation against the CTP insurer of the vehicle causing the accident (or the nominal defendant in the case of an unregistered vehicle). The CTP insurer will defend the claim and pay any compensation that an injured party is entitled to depending on the circumstances of each case.
If, however, you are an intoxicated driver who causes injury to a third party, the insurer has a right of recourse against you. Section 58 of the Motor Accident Insurance Act provides for the insurers right of recourse against an intoxicated driver who causes injury to a third party.
Section 58(3) in particular provides as follows:-
(3) If –
(a) personal injury arises out of a motor vehicle accident;
(b) the insured person was, at the time of the accident, the driver of the motor vehicle;
(c) the insured person was, at the time of the accident, unable to exercise the effective control of the motor vehicle because of the consumption of –
(ii) a non-medicinal drug or a combination of non-medicinal drugs; or
(iii) a combination of alcohol and non-medicinal drug or non-medicinal drugs.
The insurer may recover, as a debt from the insured person any costs reasonably incurred by the insurer on a claim for personal injury that are reasonably attributed to the insured person’s inability to exercise effective control of the motor vehicle.
If an insurer can show that alcohol (or drugs) has reasonably attributed to the drivers inability to exercise effective control of a motor vehicle and this has lead to them injuring a third party, then the insurer will bring claim against the driver to recover, as a debt, any cost the insurer has reasonably incurred with respect to a compensation paid to injured third party.
The insurer would not only try to recover the amount of compensation paid to the injured third party but any reasonable cost incurred by way legal fees. This could amount to tens or hundreds of thousands (and in some cases millions) of dollars.
If the insurer obtains a court judgment against you then the insurer may apply to the court for an enforcement warrant to recover the debt. The main types of warrants are:-
• seizure and sale of real property or other assets
• redirection of debt
• regular redirections from financial institutions
• redirection of earnings
• payment by installments
Other types of warrants include:-
• delivery of goods
• seizure and detention of property
• charging orders on shares, bonds etc.
The impacts of drink and drug driving are far-reaching.
If you are an innocent third party or passenger injured in a motor vehicle accident contact our Mr. Jeremy Bruce on 13 58 28 for a free initial consultation and case appraisal. We can also provide advice and representation in relation to any drink driving charges you may find yourself facing. Call one of our experienced lawyers on 13 58 28.