WWI – Walking While Intoxicated

Living in South Florida, you see it everywhere: Whether they are stumbling on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale or unsteadily walking away from Mary Brickell Village; Walking-While-Intoxicated is undoubtedly a fairly common phenomenon. WWI is certainly preferred to DWI/DUI, however it is not without its own risks.

We all know that alcohol impairs judgment. Those with an liquor-impaired gait are less likely to pay careful attention (look both ways) or more likely to be confident in foolish endeavors such as running across the street to beat that approaching bus.

The Associated Press reported on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study released on Monday, August 5, 2013 that reviewed pedestrian deaths in 2011. The study reported that over 35% of pedestrians who died in 2011 had a BAC over the legal limit for driving. The percentage of pedestrian-related accidents that resulted in death increased to approximately 50% for those in the early 20s or in the 35 – 55 year old age bracket.

To compare:

  • 13% of drivers involved in pedestrian-related / fatal accidents (car vs. pedestrian) were legally drunk.
  • 31% of auto-crash (car vs car, truck vs. car, etc…) fatalities involved a driver above the legal BAC limit.

The study did not review bicycling-while-impaired fatalities or distracted walking (i.e. talking on the cell phone while walking). However, not surprisingly, other studies have shown these to be dangerous activities.

This study brings to mind the concept of comparative negligence – a liability defense in Florida. Certainly if you are a pedestrian who is struck by a car, bus, etc.. you should (a) seek emergency care and then (b) contact a Miami or Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney. However, if it can be proven that you were walking-while-impaired, some percentage of liability will likely be apportioned to you.

By: Jason Neufeld