Who Is Liable In A Drunk Driving Accident?

Drunk driving accidents happen daily in every state of the US. In California, there are around twenty-eight deaths per day related to drunk driving accidents. This is a harrowing way for the victim’s families to lose their loved ones. In this article, we will examine whether the drunk driver is always at fault. We will look at statistics and clarify what the law has to say about drunk driving in California. 

Facts About Drunk Driving Accidents in CA

According to NHTSA figures someone in the USA dies from a car accident caused by a drunk driver every 52 minutes. Alcohol related driving accidents are at their lowest since 1982 – but they are still responsible for over ten thousand deaths per year. 

In California alone:

  • There were 1,241 drunk driving fatalities in 2018
  • About 35% of all fatalities were drink related
  • California, Texas, and Florida, are the three states with the highest drunk driving death rates

You can visit this page to find out more about deaths via drunk driving in California, and what you can do to find representation for it.

Determining Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident

With so many deaths happening each year it is only natural that we wonder who to determine who is at blame. The instinct is to blame the drunk driver, but what if the other driver caused the accident? Does the drunk driver still have to take the blame? Let us find out.

The answer is that no, just because the driver is drunk does not mean that they are at fault for the accident. Drunk driving is breaking the law and will therefore incur a penalty. In California, the police punish those with over 0.08% blood alcohol. They will suspend your license for four months after your first DUI. A second offense within ten years results in a 1-year suspension.

So, if you are in an accident where the drunk driver was not at fault, they will receive one of these punishments. Otherwise, blame will be determined in the usual ways.

Fault in a Drunk Driving Case

Therefore, determining fault in a drunk driving case in CA takes the same form as identifying fault in a normal road accident case. This means that the liable person was driving the vehicle to blame for the accident, that they did something illegal or neglectful, and that someone else became injured as a result – or something else.

Only if the drunk driver did all three of these will a judge find them at fault for the accident. However, California is a state where Comparative Negligence laws mean that you can be partially at fault for an accident, not responsible. If you are less than 50% responsible, you can still claim compensation.

So, a drunk driver may be 20% at fault for impaired reaction times by not braking hard enough at a junction. The driver who cut them off is still the one to blame, but the judge assigns a percentage of fault for the delayed reactions. You can read more about comparative justice, here.

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