Drunk drivers in California are sometimes involved in car accidents. However, just because a driver was operating a vehicle while under the influence, it does not mean they were to blame for the accident. In fact, in California, drunk drivers in a car accident are not automatically at fault.
Find out how fault is determined in court in car accident cases with the Simmrin Law Group.
Fault in Car Accidents in California
In order to be blamed for causing a car accident in California, an individual must:
- Operate a vehicle
- Commit an illegal act or fail to carry out a legal duty
- Thereby causing property damage or injuring someone
You may be aware that driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal act in California. However, a DUI alone is not enough to automatically make you accountable for causing an accident. You must also perform another illegal or dangerous act. For example, you could be considered at fault for an accident if you drank alcohol and then:
- Exceeded the posted speed limit
- Ran a red light or stop sign
- Engaged in reckless driving
However, just driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not establish accountability for an accident.
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Comparative Negligence for California Car Accidents
California is a comparative negligence state. This means that more than one person can be held accountable for an accident. Generally, the state will assess all the factors that led to an accident and assign all involved parties a percentage of the blame.
You may be able to receive compensation based on the percentage of blame you hold for the accident. For example, if you are 50% accountable for an accident, you will only be able to seek compensation for 50% of your total losses.
Note that, while you may not be totally accountable for an accident because you were driving while under the influence, DUI charges can play into levels of accountability in California. If it’s found that you would have been able to avoid a wreck if you were sober, for example, you could face a percentage of the blame for an accident.
Protecting Yourself After a DUI Accident in California
A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can help if you were involved in an accident while operating a vehicle under the influence. A legal professional could be able to demonstrate that:
- You were not operating a vehicle while inebriated
- You did not commit any additional illegal acts while driving
- You did not neglect any of your lawful duties
Additionally, establishing that another driver actually caused an accident can help you avoid fault in these situations. Your lawyer can investigate the facts surrounding your accident, speak with witnesses, go over police reports, and more to determine exactly what happened during your collision.
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Criminal Charges for DUIs in California
Thus far, we have discussed the fact that you will not automatically be at fault for a car accident if you were operating your vehicle while under the influence. However, you can still face criminal charges if you get behind the wheel after:
- Drinking alcohol
- Using illicit chemical substances
- Taking some prescription or over-the-counter medications
Drunk driving is against the law in California. You can face misdemeanor or felony charges for a DUI offense. You can even face specific charges for a DUI causing injury if you are involved in a drunk driving accident. A misdemeanor conviction for a DUI causing injury can result in:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- License suspension of up to three years
- Jail time of up to one year
A felony conviction can lead to:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- License revocation of up to five years
- Prison time of up to four years
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Handling Accidents Associated with Drunk Driving
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help if you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence. The team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you face criminal charges and work to ensure you are not unfairly blamed for the collision.
Improve your odds of successfully moving forward after a drunk driving accident by calling us as soon as possible after your wreck.
Speak to a Lawyer Following a Drunk Driving Accident
Drunk drivers involved in car accidents are not automatically at fault in California. However, you can still face criminal charges for a DUI causing injury. You may also be assigned a percentage of blame in the accident. Take steps to mitigate these circumstances by speaking with the Simmrin Law Group. Call (310) 997-4688 or complete our online contact form or learn more.
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