Understanding Your Rights After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver in California
Drunk driving is one of the most preventable causes of serious injury or wrongful death in the United States. This is particularly true in Los Angeles, where in addition to our robust public transportation system, ridesharing giants like Lyft, Uber, and other companies have dominated the transportation market. Yet, far too many people still drive drunk and cause avoidable harm to others. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides that over 10,000 people are killed each year in a drunk driving accident throughout the United States. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, in the Golden State alone there are roughly 1,300 traffic fatalities each year.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured by a drunk driving in California, or if your family suffered the tragic loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, learn how the Broadway Law Firm can help protect your rights to compensation under California law. Our experienced drunk driving accident lawyers will work with law enforcement to investigate your claim and demonstrate liability against the defendant. Our compassionate staff will also work with your treating physicians in order to establish your damages and get you the compensation that you deserve. Learn more by calling our law office today.
Drunk Driving Laws in California
It is unlawful to drive under the influence of alcohol in every state, including California. The specific limitations and restrictions for driving while intoxicated include the following:
- No one over the age of 21 shall operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher
- No one under the age of 21 shall operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .01 or higher
- No one on DUI probation shall have a BAC of .01 or higher
- No one operating a vehicle requiring a CDL shall have a BAC of .04 of higher
- No one with a passenger for hire in the vehicle shall operate a vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher.
Tougher BAC Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers
In addition, while California law allows a commercial vehicle driver with a CDL to have a BAC of .04, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted stricter requirements that govern the operation of all commercial vehicle drivers. This includes truck drivers of 18 wheelers, big rigs, flatbeds, buses, or other types of large trucks. It does not matter where the truck driver is licensed, going to, coming from, or driving through. Even though California law allows for up to .04, the FMCSA regulations which are stricter always control and set the requirement in order to keep the rules uniform across all 50 states for truck drivers. This is because truck drives operate throughout the United States as it is an interstate business.
Under 49 CFR section 392.5, the FMCSA provides the following rules for all drivers operating a CDL vehicle:
- NO BAC, not even .01
- NO alcohol within four hours of starting a shift or going to work
- NO possession of alcohol, unless it is part of the shipment or possessed by bus passengers.
These limits imposed by the FMCSA are the strictest drunk driving laws and regulations in the country.
Liability if You Were Involved in a California Drunk Driving Accident
Proving liability in a drunk driving accident is often easier than other types of motor vehicle accidents. This is because a drunk driver who causes an accident is likely to have received a ticket or otherwise have been charged by local law enforcement. Thus, law enforcement will have done a lot of the investigation for you by establishing the violation of the vehicle and traffic law, and then by charging the defendant. Sometimes you may get lucky and the defendant will even plead guilty to the offense.
This allows the plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver in California to use either a cause of action (or claim) of negligence or negligence per se. Negligence is where a person fails to use reasonable care in the use or operation of a motor vehicle and unnecessarily exposes others to a foreseeable risk of injury.
Negligence per se is where the violation of a statute can be used to automatically establish liability where that violation causes harm to a person who should have been protected from the accident. This is only for the violation of a statute, like California law, and not for the violation of a regulation like the FMCSA. In that situation, the violation of a regulation is only evidence of negligence—and not automatically liability establishing.
Ask the Broadway Law Firm for Help in a Los Angeles Drunk Driving Accident
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a drunk driving accident in Los Angeles, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed by an intoxicated driver, ask our experienced car accident lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm for help. We offer FREE consultations and can help recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and of course you pain and suffering. Call 213.444.3155 or using our easy-to-use contact us box available by clicking the link here to schedule your FREE consultation. We are here to help.