The Five Kinds Of Driver Impairment

The Five Kinds Of Driver Impairment

Every year, vehicle collisions seriously injure almost five million Americans. Sometimes, these vehicle collisions happen suddenly and with little warning. Other times, the chain of events leading to a vehicle collision starts before the tortfeasor (negligent driver) gets behind the wheel. Once this chain of events starts, almost nothing can stop it.

San Jose auto accident lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation in driver impairment-related wrecks. Arguably, these individuals know they shouldn’t drive, but they do so anyway, and intentionally put other people at risk.

Medical Condition

Driving with a serious medical condition, or even a relatively mild condition, is one of the leading kinds of driver impairment.

Serious medical conditions include diseases and disorders that could cause a sudden and unexpected loss of consciousness, such as:

  • Heart disease,
  • Diabetes,
  • Epilepsy, and
  • Narcolepsy.

If a tortfeasor passes out while driving, an out-of-control collision is the most likely result. These unpredictable crashes often cause the most catastrophic injuries. The state usually suspends drivers’ licenses in these situations, but these suspensions only last a few months.

Mild conditions include coronavirus and the flu. Eye irritation, congestion, and other such symptoms could reduce driving ability by as much as 50 percent. Only a handful of mild illnesses, like coronavirus, involve mandatory quarantine periods.

Tortfeasors who drive with suspended licenses and cause vehicle collisions could be liable for damages as a matter of law, under the negligence per se rule. Tortfeasors who ignore mild or serious medical conditions are usually negligent. The duty of care requires motorists to be at their best, physically, mentally, and otherwise, when they drive.


Driving after twenty consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .08 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit in California.

Lack of sleep, much like alcohol consumption, affects motor skills and judgment ability. Both these things must be at maximum efficiency to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Drowsy driving usually isn’t against the law. California’s broad reckless driving law could apply, but emergency responders rarely issue such tickets. In fact, many law enforcement agencies don’t even have an accident cause code for drowsiness. So, a San Jose personal injury lawyer must use circumstantial evidence to establish a lack of care.

This evidence includes the time of the crash, the amount of rest the tortfeasor had the night before, and medical records which indicate sleep apnea or another such issue.


Either ordinary negligence or negligence per se could apply in alcohol-related wrecks. Despite a decades-long crackdown against drunk drivers, alcohol still causes almost a third of the fatal car wrecks in California.

Most people are intoxicated after three or four drinks. A DUI charge, even if the tortfeasor “beats” this charge in criminal court, is usually conclusive proof of intoxication in civil court.

Dangerous impairment begins with the first drink. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes physical symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes, unsteady balance, and slurred speech. The tortfeasor’s previous schedule could be relevant as well. If the tortfeasor recently visited a restaurant or bar that serves alcohol, it’s more likely than not that s/he had at least one drink there.

In many parts of California, stoned driving is a bigger problem than drunk driving. Marijuana, which is legal to consume for personal reasons in California, is the most common impairing drug in the Golden State. Even if the drug is legal to take, it’s illegal, and dangerous, to drive under the influence of that substance.


Similar issues apply here. It’s illegal in California to use a cellphone while driving. Other forms of distracted driving, like eating and drinking while driving, aren’t technically illegal, but they are unsafe.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Santa Clara County Attorney

Car crash claims are usually complex. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Campbell, contact the Solution Now Law Firm. We have offices in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Oakland.


Solution Now Law Firm

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