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Some remedies may help stem car accidents caused by DUI drivers

Can individual citizens, police officers, businesses and police departments make an appreciable difference in improving safety on West Virginia highways and roads? When they work together for that common goal, the answer is yes, according to the Huntington Regional Highway Safety Program. That organization recently held an event to honor individuals and entities that were particularly effective in highway safety and efforts to reduce the incidence of car accidents in 2016.

One local woman who lost her daughter to an accident caused by a drunk driver was an honoree in the event. She has worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for years. The 2015 West Virginia law called "Andrea and Willy's Law," which created tougher penalties for drunk driving, was named after the woman's daughter.

In 2012, her daughter was with her friend and her friend's father in a vehicle, traveling on W.Va. Route 2 north of Huntington. A car driven by a drunk driver crossed the center line of traffic and crashed head-on into their car, killing the woman's daughter and the others. It was later discovered that the man responsible for the crash had a long history of drunk driving offenses on his record, and was driving with an expired driver's license.

When such car accidents occur in West Virginia and elsewhere, there is another strong remedy that is often available to injured victims and the families of deceased victims. It is the bringing of a civil tort claim for monetary damages. Regardless of the drunk driving history or proof of alcohol impairment against a driver, an injured victim can collect money damages from the person who caused the accident. This legal remedy for monetary compensation is a bedrock principle of our legal system, which also serves a certain remedial effect against such tragic occurrences.

Source: herald-dispatch.com, "Police, citizens honored for effort to keep roads, public safe", Feb. 3, 2017

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