Tampa Bay Drunk Driver Almost Causes Skyway Bridge Accident

March 18, 2022
Tampa Bay Drunk Driver Almost Causes Skyway Bridge Accident

Drunk Driver Near Miss With Pedestrians on Saint Petersburg Sunshine Skyway Bridge

A couple of weeks ago, St. Petersburg narrowly avoided what could have been a mass casualty event caused by a drunk driver, if not for the actions of a brave Florida State Trooper. On March 6th, 2022, an intoxicated driver barreled towards St. Petersburg's iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which had been closed off for a 10K race. The drunk driver was well over the legal limit and ignored barriers placed to protect the runners' path, recklessly endangering their lives with her negligence. Officer Toni Schuck was forced to take extreme measures to prevent a serious pedestrian accident, maneuvering her patrol car directly into the path of the oncoming vehicle.  The driver did not stop, colliding head-on with the officer. Thankfully, the officer and the driver will recover from their injuries. Drunk driving accidents like this one can often result in catastrophic damage to property and bodily harm, meaning drivers can be found negligent and held liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Drunk Driving Rates in St. Petersburg Are a Cause for Concern

Officer Schuck is being hailed as a hero across Florida, especially after the police department released the chilling dashcam footage of the crash. However, many St. Petersburg residents are concerned that her actions were necessary in the first place. This incident highlights a troubling rate of drunk driving accidents in the St. Petersburg area. St. Petersburg is ranked as the fourth most dangerous city for deadly drunk driving accidents in Florida, outpacing larger population centers like Miami and Tampa. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records substantiate this claim.  They demonstrate that the Sixth and Thirteenth District Courts, which are dominated by St. Petersburg and Tampa respectively, had the highest numbers of DUI arrests in Florida in 2018. St. Petersburg's numbers become more alarming when you consider that Tampa's Hillsborough County has about half a million more people than St. Petersburg's Pinellas.

Alcohol's Impact on Driving Ability 

Under Florida law, a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 is considered too intoxicated to drive, but mental impairment long precedes physical deficits. Alcohol begins to influence your brain in ten minutes, and at the legal limit your vision can become blurry and your motor functions reduced.  This makes it difficult if not impossible to safely operate a vehicle, even for a short distance. Many people do not recognize the true level of their impairment until it is too late. Drunk drivers can easily miss obstacles or people in the road and lack the coordination to react timely. In cases of significant inebriation, like the drunk driver's 0.27 BAC in the Skyway crash, the body is on the brink of alcohol poisoning. Drivers may even blackout, or exhibit profound confusion. At this point, their judgment is already compromised and they lack the ability to balance themselves.

Drunk Driving Linked to Other Distracted Driving Behaviors

When someone drives under the influence there is a high chance that they may engage in other dangerous driving behaviors as well such as distracted driving.  Distracted driving occurs when a driver's visual, cognitive, or manual capacity is engaged in an attention source other than the road ahead of them. Common sources of distraction include rubbernecking near accidents, eating, texting while driving, and adjusting navigational technology. The pervasiveness of technology makes it easy for a driver's attention to become diverted, and like a sober driver, an inebriated driver may not be able to resist the temptation. The difference is, a drunk driver's reaction times, perception, motor control, and even judgment are impeded by the alcohol which can lead to a higher chance of these behaviors occurring. This naturally leads to some dangerous situation where a drunk driver gets distracted and runs a red light, drives the wrong way up an exit ramp, or runs over a bicyclist.

Distracted and Drunk Driving on the Sunshine Skyway

As evidenced by the St. Petersburg Skyway case, drunk driving can cause drivers to ignore important road directions and exceed speed limits.  More than a quarter of fatal accidents involve speeding. This is one of many risky driving behaviors that a drunk driving accident lawyer can draw attention to when seeking compensation on your behalf in a car accident claim.

St. Petersburg Drunk Drivers Can Be Held Liable for Their Negligence

As summer holidays and graduations approach, St. Petersburg drivers should be especially cautious about their alcohol consumption and aware of their surroundings in order to prevent a holiday drunk driving accident. Unfortunately, many drunk driving accidents are related to holiday celebrations and events. For people who drink and drive, the consequences of a car accident don't end with broken bones and totaled cars. Drivers are responsible for behaving in a safe and reasonable manner when operating a vehicle. Their breach of duty to fellow road users can constitute gross negligence, turning a celebration into a lawsuit.

Civil Consequences for Drunk Drivers

Many people don't realize that drunk driving can carry hefty civil penalties, as well as criminal charges. After being injured in a drunk driving accident, victims can recover damages from drunk drivers to reimburse the cost of lost wages, medical bills, car repairs, or emotional distress in the event their no fault coverage is not sufficient.  To avoid being taken advantage of, victims of drunk driving accidents should seek the counsel of a reputable car accident attorney to aid them in proving a drunk driving claim.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Recover Damages in a Drunk Driving Lawsuit?

Determining liability in a car accident after a drunk driver causes injuries, property damages, or claims a life can be difficult. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should seek out a reputable drunk driving accident lawyer to manage your personal injury claim. A competent personal injury lawyer will tell you that drunk driving cases come with their own unique legal challenges and have a plan to deal with them. Dolman Law Group has years of experience collecting evidence of drunk driving, dealing with the insurance company, negotiating fair settlements, and facing those liable for drunk driving accidents in a trial.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your St. Petersburg Drunk Driving Car Accident Lawsuit

A stranger's choice to drink and drive can bury an innocent victim under piles of medical bills, compromise their method of transportation, and cause mental and emotional stress. When you're hurting, the last thing you need is the additional stress of handling your own car accident case. At Dolman Law Group, we understand the value of trust. Our clients put their lives and futures in our hands when they turn to us for support, and we don't let them down. We have a history of distinction as Florida car accident attorneys, with several offices in the St. Petersburg and Tampa areas.  Our clients are our first and only priority. Unlike big settlement mills, we won't shuffle you around or settle for anything less than you deserve. We offer a free consultation to all potential clients where we'll take your claim seriously, fight for compensatory damages on your behalf, and help you begin rebuilding your life. Contact us at (833) 55-CRASH for auto accidents. You can also send us an email on our contact us page.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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