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Attorney Jared Pursley
Carlsbad Personal Injury LawyerBlogDrunk Driver AccidentBreaking Down an Alcohol-Related Wreck in California

Breaking Down an Alcohol-Related Wreck in California


Before coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, a long-term drunk driver crackdown appeared to be working. The number of alcohol-related car crashes had been slowly, but steadily, declining since the mid 1990s. Drivers began taking more chances, such as drinking and driving, when roads emptied. Usually, bad habits are easy to form and hard to break. Drinking and driving has proven to be no exception.

Alcohol adversely affects judgment abilities and motor skills. Therefore, impaired and intoxicated drivers often make poor decisions behind the wheel. Then, they cannot react quickly enough to make amends for their mistakes. If alcohol impairment or intoxication causes a car crash, a Carlsbad drunk driving accident lawyer can obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Impaired Drivers

The aforementioned adverse effects of alcohol begin with the first drink, long before most people are legally intoxicated. Evidence of impairment includes:

  • Erratic Driving: As mentioned, impaired motorists often make poor decisions. They mistake on-ramps for off-ramps, misjudge the distance between themselves and other vehicles, and miscalculate the amount of time they have to get through an intersection before the light changes color.
  • Physical Symptoms: These symptoms include an odor of alcohol, unsteady balance, slurred speech, and slow reflexes. Individually, these symptoms don’t prove much. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Alcohol Purchases: If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) came from a bar, restaurant, or other commercial alcohol provider, it’s more likely than not that s/he had at least one drink there.

These commercial providers could be vicariously liable for car crash damages, under California’s limited dram shop law. More on that below.

Intoxicated Drivers

Intoxication is the complete loss of mental or physical faculties due to alcohol consumption. Marijuana and other such drugs could legally intoxicated drivers as well. In fact, any chemical substance, even caffeine, could cause legal intoxication.

Usually, law enforcement departments have mandatory DUI arrest policies. If a motorist is intoxicated, peace officers must arrest drivers. Therefore, the negligence per se rule normally applies in drunk driving wrecks. This rule has two basic prongs:

  • A violation of a safety law that
  • Substantially causes injury.

An Oceanside criminal defense lawyer doesn’t need to present evidence of cause. But an attorney does need evidence of injuries, like medical bills, in order to obtain maximum compensation.

California’s dram shop law holds commercial providers vicariously liable for damages if they illegally sell alcohol to minors. Some traditional defenses, like the “s/he looked older” defense, normally don’t hold up in court.

Rely on a Dedicated San Diego County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oceanside, contact the Pursley Law Firm. Virtual, home, after hours, and hospital visits are available.

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