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Mardi Gras, DWI, and accidents: Get the facts

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The time when the New Orleans Police Department arrests the most people on DWI charges is during Mardi Gras. Every law enforcement agency states that they book more people for driving while intoxicated than at any other time during the year.

It happens every year. Law enforcement officers stop a larger number of people with the suspicion of driving while intoxicated more than at any other time of the year.

As is the custom, people attending the parades during Mardi Gras begin to drink, and by the time the parades are over and it’s time to go home, they aren't in any condition to drive. Fortunately, law enforcement officers are prepared for this. More officers are on the streets at this time, and when parade goers make the mistake of trying to drive home, they will be stopped. 

The time when the New Orleans Police Department arrests the most people on DWI charges is during Mardi Gras. Every law enforcement agency states that they book more people for driving while intoxicated than at any other time during the year. Even though arrests for driving while impaired have gone down, during Mardi Gras, the rates remain the same. 

Dangerous crashes in 2017 and 2019
A drunk driver ran into a group of people watching a Mardi Gras parade in 2017 and injured 28 people. Some of these people were very seriously injured. 

The year 2019 was a particularly deadly year. That was when a drunk driver ran down a group of cyclists after the Endymion parade. His blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit, so it isn't a surprise that he killed two of the cyclists.

Statistics during the season
The season begins 11 days before the parades start. That's when law enforcement officers are stopping more people on suspicion of DWI than any other time in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. 

The year 2009 was also a particularly dangerous year. That was the year that DWI arrests peaked at nearly 32,000.

Punitive damages
If you were hit by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to receive punitive damages. Read more about damages you can recover after a car accident. 

What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages compensate you when the actions of another rise to the level of being grossly negligent or even intentional. Punitive damages are damages that you receive above and beyond the compensatory damages. Punitive damages do not compensate you for the pain you are suffering; they are a manner of punishing the negligent party for acting in a grievously despicable manner. 

The point of punitive damages is to discourage the defendant and others from acting in the way that the defendant acted during your incident. 

When are you entitled to receive punitive damages?
The court will determine whether or not you are entitled to receive punitive damages by assessing the following two points:

  • The court will examine previous cases that were similar to yours. If punitive damages were awarded in those cases, you may receive punitive damages for your case. 
  • The court will also determine whether or not the defendant's actions were grossly negligent, intentional, or malicious. If so, you could be awarded punitive damages. 

In most cases, people receive four times the amount they received in compensatory damages. For example, you may be awarded $100,000 for compensatory damages. Then, the court could order the defendant to pay approximately $400,000 in punitive damages.

The court can also decide to award you an even greater amount as punitive damages. This occurs when the defendant's actions were unbelievably egregious. It could also be because the injuries that you suffered weren't adequately compensated with the amount you were awarded for compensatory damages. 

In addition to that, there may have been examples of punitive damages that were much higher than the formula listed above, so the court could increase your punitive damages for this reason. If you were injured by a drunk driver, contact your personal injury attorney to determine if you’re eligible for punitive damages.

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