Statistically, those who drive while intoxicated are far more likely to cause serious accidents than drivers who are sober. Impaired judgment and slow reaction times lead to serious accidents with severe injuries.
More than 30,000 Californians are injured in accidents that are alcohol or drug related. Unfortunately, the statistics are harrowing, and the number of drunk driving accidents continues to rise in California.
Numerous parties can be held responsible for drunk driving accidents in the State of California, including:
- The intoxicated driver can be held responsible for their behavior, and the decision to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to California state law, a person will be considered under the influence of alcohol and intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08 percent.
- Bar/Restaurant Owners or Staff. While bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages in California usually cannot be held liable for the actions of their patrons after leaving their establishment, they can be held liable for an accident caused by a minor who was served alcohol in their establishment and under some other narrow circumstances.
- Hosts. Just as bar and restaurant owners cannot generally be held liable for the actions of intoxicated drivers after leaving their location, private hosts are generally immune from responsibility for their intoxicated guests. However, if they provide alcohol to a minor who causes an accident or under certain other narrow circumstances, they may be held liable and responsible.
Often, a drunk driver will be prosecuted with criminal charges related to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the victims of a drunk driving accident have the right to pursue claims against the drunk driver in civil court to recover monetary compensation for their damages. Additionally, under certain circumstances where the drunk driver has a prior history of drunk driving or exhibited especially reckless behavior at the time of the accident, the victim may be able to pursue punitive damages against the drunk driver.
As a victim, you have the right to immediately file a civil claim without having to wait for a criminal trial to finish. Additionally, a drunk driver does not have to be convicted for the criminal offense of driving while under the influence or driving while intoxicated for there to be a successful civil claim. The level of proof in a civil claim is much lower than a criminal case, and even if a drunk driver is never convicted for criminal offenses, they may still have to pay damages in civil court to victims of the drunk driving accident.