Car accident cases in California can be incredibly complicated, especially if alcohol was involved in the accident. California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that all parties in the accident can be assigned a percentage of fault, impacting the amount of damages they can receive.
If multiple drivers involved in an accident were drunk at the time of the collision, it can make determining fault for the wreck more difficult. It may also reduce your level of negligence for the accident, allowing you to seek some compensation for the collision.
The team at the Simmrin Law Group can help you understand your legal options if you were involved in an accident involving multiple drunk drivers. Let’s consider this situation further right now.
Defining a Drunk Driver in California
In order to discuss a drunk driving car accident in California, we need to establish a definition for drunk driving. According to California’s legal codes, drivers may be considered drunk – or driving under the influence – if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limits set forth by the state.
This means that you may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if your BAC is at or above:
- 0.08% if you are over 21
- 0.04% if you are a commercial driver
- 0.01% if you are under 21
However, these are only basic guidelines to determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of alcohol. You may actually be considered inebriated even if your BAC does not exceed the state’s legal limits, which can make DUI charges difficult to handle on your own.
Fault for Drunk Driving Accidents in Los Angeles
Many people automatically assume that a drunk driver is at fault for an accident in California. However, this is not always the case. In order to establish fault legally, it must be proven that a driver:
- Had a duty of care to someone else
- Breached that duty of care and
- Caused injury to another person
All drivers automatically have a duty of care to one another. This duty requires them to operate their motor vehicles in a reasonable way. Drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel can be considered a breach of that duty of care.
However, drunk drivers do not always cause accidents. They could be hit by a completely sober driver. Or, in cases involving multiple drunk drivers, one could cause the accident while the other did not. It is also possible for more than one driver to play a role in causing an accident in California.
Pure Comparative Negligence and Car Accidents
As we mentioned, California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that all parties involved in an accident may be assigned a percentage of the blame for the accident. Your percentage of blame determines how much compensation you can be awarded following a collision.
For example, let’s say that you are in a wreck with another drunk driver. The court finds that you are both 50% to blame for the wreck. You suffered $100,000 in damages. Because you are 50% to blame for the collision, you can only be awarded a maximum of $50,000 in compensation.
Criminal Charges for DUI Car Accidents in California
Thus far, we have only discussed compensation and fault for car accidents involving drunk drivers. It is important that you understand that a DUI is a criminal act in California. If you are involved in a car accident with another drunk driver, both drivers can face criminal charges.
If you are convicted of a basic DUI, you could face:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Jail time of up to six months
- License suspension of up to one year
However, if someone was hurt in the accident you could face harsher penalties, including:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- Prison time of up to four years
- Driver’s license revocation of up to five years
The other driver could face these same penalties. In fact, anyone who was operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident could be convicted.
Getting Help After a DUI Accident in California
You can get help right away if you were part of a car accident involving multiple drunk drivers in California. The Simmrin Law Group can help you review your legal options if you are accused of a DUI. You can easily reach our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.
Find out how we can help you today with a FREE initial case evaluation.