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"Don’t Take Lift From Drunk Driver"

Recent Changes in the Law: by Berwick Solicitors Galway.


Recent AA Survey revealed that one- in- five people (especially younger people) put their lives at risk on a regular basis by taking a lift from someone that they know to be over the drink-driving limit. If you accept a lift from a Driver who transpires to be drunk and where an accident ensues, your entitlement to make a claim in the event of you suffering injury( caused by Drunk Driver’s carelessness) could be severely jeopardised (you also ,obviously, incur other serious risks). The Courts have decided the above on many occasions and recently have become more strict in this regard.
Older Approach:
(More lenient)
An example of the older and more lenient approach of the Courts is found in a court case heard in 1968 ( Judge Reape (1968 Ir). In this case, the Claimant was a passenger. He and the Driver of the car made six stops at Public houses on a journey from Ballina to Dublin, over a period of some hours. At each stop, alcohol was consumed.
Despite this large amount of drink taken, the amount of the award to the passenger was not reduced despite the passenger allowing himself to be driven by a drunk driver.
Modern Approach: More strict:
The Courts have today radically changed their attitude; nor will it usually convince a Court to say that you did not know that the driver was drunk;- you will be deemed to know if the driver’s drunkenness should have been obvious to you. For example, in a recent case (Devlin –V- Cassidy 2004 IR), the Claimant was 24 years of age and he went drinking with a group of friends at about 7pm in the evening and remained on- the- town until approximately 3am on the following morning. A Report on the driver after the accident showed that he had consumed twice the permitted levels and also had taken ecstasy. The Claimant maintained that he was not in the company of the Driver for much of the evening (and so maintained that he did not know that the Driver was drunk). The Judge did not accept this and concluded that the Claimant must have known that the Driver was drunk. Also, the Claimant was himself drunk and you are not allowed to hide behind this condition. In this case, the Judge reduced the amount of the award by 50%.
Normally, a claim by a passenger is straightforward, however, where a passenger is aware that the Driver has consumed drink, the amount of an award tends to be reduced by a lot (40 or 50%) This varies according to the extent that the Claimant knew or ought to have known of the risk he was undertaking.
It is not enough for the Claimant to say that he did not know that the driver was drunk; the Claimant cannot close his eyes to obvious facts.
Berwick Solicitors, 16 Eyre square, Galway is heavily involved in representing victims of accidents and has been engaged in this work for over 20 years. Feel free to contact us at 091 567545 or