One of the biggest sources of risk for any driver on the road in California is the potential to cross paths with an impaired driver. Despite state laws making it illegal to get behind the wheel after more than a few drinks, a lot of people still choose to drive drunk. Those drunk drivers are responsible for a significant portion of crashes and collisions that occur in California each year.
Drunk drivers also cause a number of severe injuries and fatalities to other people. While you may understand that drunk driving is dangerous and choose not to get behind the wheel after imbibing, not everyone makes the same informed decision. The end result is that hundreds of people end up hurt or killed by drunk drivers in California each year.
Drunk drivers are responsible for a significant number of crashes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drunk drivers killed at least 10,327 people between 2003 and 2012 in California alone. That's more than 1,000 people each year who die in otherwise preventable collisions caused by people who choose to drink and drive.
The CDC also reports that California drivers are roughly as likely as the national average driver to get behind the wheel drunk. In a national survey, 1.9 percent of drivers admitted to driving after drinking too much in 2012. In California, that figure was 1.8 percent. In other words, while California may not be the worst state for drunk driving, with such a high population, there is still significant risk on the road.
You have the right to hold a drunk driver accountable
California law makes it illegal for anybody with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.8 percent or higher to operate a motor vehicle. For those under the age of 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy. Any detectable BAC for a driver under 21 is an illegal amount. These legal limits mean that anyone who causes a crash with an illegal amount of alcohol in their system could face criminal charges in California.
While a criminal conviction is a form of justice, it won't undo or offset the damages caused by the drunk driver. In order to do that, you will probably need to consider pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver. Typically, you can seek compensation for anything from lost wages to medical expenses.
If a drunk driver ends the life of someone you love, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to offset the financial impact of that tragedy. It is important to know your options after a drunk driver causes a crash that impacts your life. You shouldn't have to pay the cost for somebody else's terrible decision.