Despite statewide efforts to curb drunk driving, intoxicated and impaired driving remains a serious public safety concern in California. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 37 people die every day in nationwide drunk driving accidents–that’s one person every 39 minutes.
In 2021 alone, there were 13,384 people who died in drunk driving-related accidents. Thousands more sustained debilitating and traumatic injuries. All of these accidents are preventable. If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, the DUI accident attorneys at Shegerian & Associates are standing by ready to seek justice and compensation on your behalf.
Defining Drunk or Impaired Driving in California
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), it is illegal for someone to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of:
- 0.08% or higher if 21 years old or older
- 0.01% or higher if under 21 years old or on DUI probation
- 0.04% or higher if operating a vehicle requiring a CDL
- 0.04% or higher if transporting a passenger for hire
Just like drunk driving, driving while under the influence of drugs is also a crime. This includes impairments due to marijuana, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or other illicit drugs.
It is important for all drivers to be aware of how to spot impaired drivers on the road. Some signs that could indicate another driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs include:
- Quick acceleration and deceleration
- Swerving or zig-zagging
- Almost striking objects or curbs
- Signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions
- Straddling the center divider
- Driving much slower than the speed limit
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Liability in a Drunk Driving Accident
There are three ways that an individual may be held liable for driving while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. These include civil liability and criminal liability proceedings. In a criminal drunk driving case, the District Attorney’s Office will aim to prove that the defendant committed a crime and pursue certain criminal punishments for that crime, such as:
- Jail time
- Suspension of driver’s license
A civil case against a drunk driver is a different type of legal proceeding. Instead of showing that the defendant committed a crime, your DUI accident lawyer must show that the defendant’s actions led to your injuries. You are the one bringing the lawsuit against the drunk driver, and instead of seeking a conviction or legal punishment, you are seeking compensation for your damages.
Potential Damages in DUI Accidents
Any individual who drives while impaired and causes an accident may be liable for any injuries and damages that are sustained. If you or a family member was injured in an impaired driving accident, you deserve maximum compensation for your losses. Accident victims are entitled to various types of compensation, including:
- Economic Damages. These damages are those that have an objective value and include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and property damage.
- Non-Economic Damages. These include the personal losses that an individual sustained as a result of the accident, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and lost quality of life.
- Punitive Damages. In some cases, an accident victim may be entitled to punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant if their actions are deemed egregious or grossly negligent.
California has a specific time frame for personal injury victims to file lawsuits. Personal injury claims, including those involving drunk drivers, have a two year statute of limitations. This means that, if you are injured by a drunk driver in California, you must act quickly in order to ensure that your drunk driving accident lawyer is able to preserve evidence for your case.
Getting Justice For Victims Of Drunk Driving Accident
Being injured in a drunk driving accident can be life-altering and impact you physically, emotionally, and financially. At Shegerian & Associates, we understand the impacts that it can have on your life and your future. Our team of dedicated DUI accident attorneys will act as your legal advocates and pursue maximum compensation and justice on your behalf.
While you focus on getting better, we will take the stress off your shoulders by:
- Dealing with the legal system on your behalf.
- Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
- Filing a lawsuit if the insurance company offers you a lowball settlement.
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if the driver has no insurance coverage.
- Communicating with you throughout the entire process.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the drunk driving accident attorneys at Shegerian & Associates for a free consultation.