There are lots of reasons why car accidents occur. Distracted drivers, vehicle malfunctions, bad weather and poor road conditions are frequently cited as the cause of the thousands of car accidents that injure or kill Alabamans each year.

Another significant cause of car accidents is intoxicated drivers. And unfortunately, we have some bad news for local residents in that regard: For the 15th straight year, Huntsville has come in first in the state for DUI arrests.

Huntsville is far and away the city with the most DUI arrests. In 2010, the most recent year for which complete statistics are readily available, there 989 people were arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The runner-up was Auburn, which had just 473 such arrests.

The high rate of drunk driving in Huntsville has implications for a lot of things, of course, but it also means that there are far, far too many people driving around our city in a state where they could seriously hurt someone. If you ever get hurt by an intoxicated driver, you need to know that you have the right to file a civil suit against them. (A civil suit, brought by an injured party, is not the same as a criminal suit, which would be brought by the state.) There is no guarantee that you will win, but many people consider it at least worth trying because they want to attempt to recover for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. We all have a responsibility to be safe and responsible on the roads and it isn't fair that people who aren't should be made to pay for their recklessness.

Source: The Hunstville Times, "Hunstville No. 1 in Alabama for DUI arrests for 15th straight year," Chris Welch, May 30, 2012