It isn’t new news that car accidents caused by DUI are usually cataclysmic and the effects can last an entire lifetime, and yet people repeated drive drunk year after year. Often it is intentionally, sometimes it is accidentally but it is always devastating. The physical and emotional struggle that follows is felt not only by the survivor but the family as well. Add to that the financial struggle and the medical and legal problems associated with a DUI and the misery is compounded with no end in sight. DUI drivers who cause death or injury face serious legal penalties and enormous civil liabilities. DUI drivers found negligent and culpable are required to pay for all damages they cause, medical, physical and financial.
Out of every five fatal car accidents in California, one is DUI related. Over 20,000 people are injured in California DUI accidents each year and more than 1000 are killed, according to the CHP or California Highway Patrol. Alcohol is not the only way to have a DUI accident. DUI or Driving Under the Influence can mean the influence of anything impairing, including prescription pills, marijuana and other drugs. Studies have shown that approximately 10% of the American public has driven under the influence of some kind of chemical within any given year. It is unclear exactly how many accident this causes per year but experts say it has a definite effect on the total yearly fatalities.
Consequences for driving under the influence vary according to how often it has happened as well as how affected the driver is. The latter is deducted by blood alcohol level. California has a very low blood/alcohol level. If a drivers BAC level (Blood/Alcohol level) is .o8% or higher, they are considered under the influence. Drivers who consistently drive drunk and cause accidents can expect harsher penalties. First time offenders can count on a night in jail, hefty fines and a loss of driving privileges. If a death occurs, the driver will go to prison regardless if it’s his or her first offense. A felony DUI is one that causes death or serious injury. Harsh penalties and catastrophic effects aside, DUIs still occur with alarming regularity across California.
In order to be arrested and charged with a DUI, a driver must have one of two things happen. He or she must be driving erratically and visibly break the rules of the road, or be stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and fail. Proving a driver was driving under the influence is not always as easy as it may initially seem. A DUI investigation must occur. DUI court usually takes several proceeding over the course of months or years. A lot can change during that time. DUI accidents are stressful and can change the lives of everyone involved, drivers and victims. Victims are entitled to sue the driver for damages they received in a DUI accident. As with any legal proceeding, it is lengthy and confusing. Drivers face years of imprisonment, loss of driver’s license and thousands of dollars in fines.
Car manufactures and technology developers continue to create safety features to guard against DUI accidents. In the meantime, our best precaution is education.