Behind distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol is the leading cause of injury and death on America’s roads. Despite successful efforts to reduce the number of injuries and deaths that result from intoxicated driving, drunk driving remains a prevalent problem. More than 25 percent of all traffic-related deaths are a result of drunk driving, and approximately 800 people are injured every day from accidents involving drunk drivers.
If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident in California, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a drunk driving accident lawyer.
Drunk Driving Laws in California
California law outlines legal blood alcohol (BAC) levels based on your age and the type of vehicle—personal or commercial—you are operating. Under California law, if you are pulled over and fall into any of the following categories you may face DUI charges.
- Under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher (California has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21; if you are underage and any amount of alcohol is detected in your system, you may face a DUI conviction)
- Over the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher
- Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher
Intoxicated drivers are the primary party that is held responsible for a drunk driving accident. However, there are additional parties that may bear some liability for the accident.
Additional Parties That May Bear Responsibility for a Drunk Driving Accident
In addition to the drunk driver, there are additional parties that may bear some responsibility for the accident. Some parties that may be found at fault in a drunk driving accident include:
- Hosts. A host of any party may be found liable for a drunk driving accident if they served drinks to the intoxicated driver after they were clearly inebriated.
- Bar and restaurant staff. Bar and restaurant staff have a responsibility to stop serving patrons that are visibly intoxicated. If they don’t uphold this responsibility, they may be found liable should a drunk driving accident occur.
- Parents of teenage drivers. If the parents of a teenager knowingly allowed teenagers to drink at their house and then drive, they could be held responsible if a drunk driving accident occurs.
Civil and Criminal DUI Cases
After a driver is arrested for drunk driving, they may face two kinds of legal cases: criminal and civil.
- Criminal charges. Criminal charges are pursued by the state against the intoxicated driver for the criminal offense of a DUI. The consequences of a criminal conviction may include jail time, community service, and license suspension.
- Civil lawsuits. Civil lawsuits are pursued by the victims of DUI accidents. The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to seek compensation for the damages a victim faced as a direct result of the impaired driver.
Usually, when a driver is arrested for drunk driving, the state will pursue criminal charges. Specifically, when a drunk driving accident results in any injuries, the intoxicated driver may face felony charges. Victims of DUI accidents should be aware that criminal convictions do not result in financial compensation for their damages. To receive compensation for any bills or medical injuries, victims of DUIs must file a civil lawsuit. If the drunk driver in your accident is convicted of a DUI, it may assist your attempt to prove negligence in your civil case. However, even if the intoxicated driver in your accident is not convicted in criminal court, you can still pursue a civil lawsuit.
A civil DUI lawsuit requires the victim of the accident to file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver. A DUI personal injury claim will hinge on the injured victim successfully proving that the drunk driver caused the accident and that the accident was the direct cause of their injuries. In civil court, drivers have to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted of a DUI.
However, they only have to be proven responsible through a “51 percent” legal standard, or a “more likely than not” rule. This is a much lower bar than they face in criminal court. To best ensure that you are awarded compensation for your civil lawsuit, it is imperative to consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer.
Receiving Compensation for Damages
If you have been the victim of a drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages. Some of the damages that victims of DUI accidents may be able to receive compensation for include:
- Vehicle repairs
- Medical bills
- Mental health treatment
- Loss of present and future income or wages
- Wrongful death of a family member
- Emotional pain and suffering
Every drunk driving accident is unique and will be subject to varying levels of compensation. When you work with a personal injury lawyer, they will explore the specifics surrounding your accident and ensure all your damages are accounted for.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Lawyer experienced in drunk driving claims
At Adamson Ahdoot, our skilled team of personal injury lawyers will help you navigate your DUI personal injury claim. With more than 100 years of combined experience handling DUI personal injury cases in California, our boutique law firm provides an aggressive approach and unwavering support to our clients. We will provide you with peace of mind, deal with your insurance company, and assist you in finding a doctor who is experienced in treating injuries from DUI accidents.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled lawyers in either English or Spanish, call today at (800) 310-1606 or fill out our online contact form.