Holding a Drunk Driver Liable for Personal Injuries
When traveling on California’s roads and highways, a duty of safe driving is owed to all other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. It is this duty that necessitates that one refrain from driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, and illicit substances. Driving while impaired, even if the reckless risk-taking does not actually cause harm to another person, is grounds for arrest and, upon conviction, fines, jail time, community service, license suspension, and the burdensome and costly installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in one’s vehicle. When impaired driving results in an accident in which personal injuries are suffered, those that have suffered harms may hold the impaired driver liable and seek financial damages for the consequences wrought.
Impaired Driving is a Form of Negligence
There is legal term of art for the impaired driving: negligence. Negligence, the breach of a duty owed that actually caused damages, is what is known as a “tort.” In the context of auto accident injuries caused by an impaired driver, the duty is the above-mentioned duty of safe driving. There are many ways to breach this duty (e.g. speeding, swerving, racing), but with regard to driving while under the influence of alcohol, the breach is first measured in terms of blood alcohol content (BAC). In California, it is unlawful to drive with a BAC above .08. It does not take very many drinks for such a measurement (typically obtained via breathalyzer at a DUI stop) to result. Often, even one or two within an hour will suffice.
With regard to prescription medications, the instructions on the label will clearly indicated whether it is safe to drive while the medication is active. If one disregards the state’s legal BAC limit, the label of a prescription, or drives while under the influence of illegal narcotics, the duty of safe driving has already been breached. When that breach and the impairment it produces results in a car accident in which the impaired driver causes others to suffer personal injuries, the elements of the tort of negligence are present.
Contact a Fremont Car Accident Attorneys
Victims of negligence may seek legal damages (money) for harms suffered. These damages include the cost of medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement, physical and emotional suffering, future medical treatment (including physical rehabilitation), lost income due to missed work, and the consequences of any short or long-term disabilities incurred. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Fremont personal injury attorney.