A celebrated Hollywood screenwriter is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, as well as two additional charges of causing bodily injury while intoxicated, in a drunk driving accident that killed his friend and injured his wife.

Roger Avary, the screenwriter behind such hits as Pulp Fiction and last year’s Beowulf, was present at the hearing where the charges were formally filed. On January 13th of this year, Avary with his wife, and friend Andreas Zini were in his Mercedes sedan. Zini and his wife Maria were in Los Angeles to visit their friends. Maria was following in another car. At some point, Avary missed a curve and crashed into a telephone pole. Zini was killed at the scene of the car accident, while Avary’s wife Gretchen was ejected from the car. She suffered severe injuries, but survived the car crash.

Police who arrived at the scene of the accident found that Avary’s blood alcohol content was above the legally permissible limit. He has now been charged with felony manslaughter and two counts of felony causing bodily injury while drunk. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Despite all the progress that we’ve made with drunk driving in our state, we continue to see more car accidents related to alcohol than we should. Law enforcement agencies have done a great job with the kind of awareness programs that they have going, promoting the “don’t drink and drive” message among teens, and enforcing stricter controls at checkpoints. All these efforts have made California’s streets safer to some extent. But when people like Avary who really should know better, continue to flout the law and act as if the rules don’t apply to them, it seems as if there’s a lot of work to do.

Alcohol and drug use can impair your judgment while driving, and can slow down your response times, both deadly mistakes that can cost you your life. Although we normally consider drunk driving to be about drugs and alcohol, it can also be taken to mean driving under the influence of prescription drugs, and even over-the-counter drugs like cough medicine, anti-allergy medications, etc. Many drugs have the potential to leave you feeling drowsy, and some formulations that do have this side effect mention these on the label. Whether drugs, alcohol, or prescription or over-the-counter medication, driving without being 100 percent in control of your faculties can have devastating consequences.

When a person has been injured, or has lost a loved one as result of an auto accident where the other motorist was clearly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she has the right to bring a civil claim against the offending driver. In such cases, damages can be claimed for the medical bills incurred, as well as future medical bills, pain and suffering that the victim has undergone. In the case of a death resulting from an alcohol-related car accident, it’s possible for family members to claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. A California car accident lawyer will be able to help you build your case.

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