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Police reports and negligence in drunk driving accidents

After an accident, an injured person may be asking how it happened. Some car accidents are directly caused by the fact that another driver was impaired behind the wheel. When others have been hurt by a drunk driver, the injured may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses and other damages through a personal injury lawsuit. In any such case, the police report on the accident will likely be a major part of the evidence for the injured person's lawsuit.

At the scene of the accident, an officer may determine that he or she has probable cause to arrest a person on charges related to a drunk driving accident. Because an accident has already occurred, the investigating officer has authority to investigate and possibly detain the people involved in the accident. The officer may then look around the vehicle or perform field sobriety tests to determine if alcohol could have been a factor in the crash.

Blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is measured by a breath or blood test. This will determine if a person was operating a vehicle above the Nevada legal limit of 0.08. A driver could face criminal charges resulting from an accident with BAC above Nevada's legal limit.

A civil personal injury lawsuit based upon a drunk driving accident is different in many ways from any criminal justice proceedings arising from the same accident, but the evidence from criminal case can be very important to the civil case. A personal injury lawsuit is based upon the theory of negligence. If the injured person can show that the injuries were the result of the defendant's negligence, then the negligent party can be held liable for damages. A police report or a conviction that shows that the defendant was drunk at the time of the accident can be very important evidence to show negligence.

Source: FindLaw.com, "DUI and probable cause," accessed Dec. 1, 2014

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