Breaking Down an Alcohol-Related Crash in California
In the late 1980s, advocates and officials began a decades-long campaign to get “drunk drivers” off the roads. This campaign included public relations pushes, tougher laws, like a lower BAC limit, and tougher law enforcement tools, like roadside checkpoints. Yet despite all these things, alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal car wrecks in California.
Frequently, alcohol-involved wrecks are also high-speed wrecks. As outlined below, impaired or intoxicated motorists cannot safely operate their vehicles and often take dangerous risks. Some resulting injuries include head wounds, severe broken bones, and serious internal bleeding.
Because of these serious injuries, and because these drivers arguably intentionally put other people at risk, a San Jose personal injury attorney can usually obtain significant compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Effects of Alcohol
Since it clouds judgement ability and impairs motor skills, consuming alcohol, which is a depressant, is a popular social activity. However, this combination is very dangerous if the person is operating heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle. Alcohol makes it very difficult to perform everyday driving tasks, like adjusting to changing conditions or estimating distances.
Many people do not know that these impairing effects begin with the first sip of alcohol. So, even one drink is one too many, if a person will be driving soon.
Furthermore, the body quickly develops an alcohol tolerance. Therefore, people must consume additional alcohol in order to achieve the same effects. That tolerance makes it almost impossible for people to break alcohol addictions on their own.
If the tortfeasor had a BAC level above the legal limit, most law enforcement agencies have mandatory arrest policies. Police officers must press DUI charges, regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
A DUI charge triggers the negligence per se shortcut in civil court. Tortfeasors could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
The negligence per se doctrine usually applies even if the tortfeasor “beats” the DUI in court. And, DUI-collision cases are rather easy to beat in criminal court, at least in many cases.
Generally, by the time emergency responders arrive, both drivers have exited their vehicles. As a result, it’s often difficult to prove the “Driving” portion of a “Driving Under the Influence” charge. However, in a civil case, the civil jury determines all the relevant facts, including guilt or innocence on a DUI charge.
Most people are intoxicated after three or four drinks. However, as mentioned, alcohol’s impairing effects begin after the first drink. These victims may use circumstantial evidence to establish alcohol impairment. Such evidence includes:
- Erratic pre-crash driving,
- Odor of alcohol,
- Unsteady balance,
- Bloodshot eyes, and
- Departure point.
The burden of proof in these situations is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, if the negligent driver just came from a place which served alcohol, it’s more likely than not that the tortfeasor had at least one drink there.
Reach Out to a Diligent Attorney
Alcohol-related crash victims have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose personal injury lawyer, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Santa Clara County and nearby jurisdictions.