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Each year, more than 30,000 Californians are seriously injured in alcohol and drug-related auto accidents and more than 2,000 are killed. The state’s blood alcohol level (BAC) requirements for DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) differ based on the age of the driver and whether the vehicle is private or commercial. In California, you can be convicted of DUI or DWI if you are:
- Under age 21 with a BAC of 0.01% or higher
- Over age 21 with a BAC of 0.08% or higher
- Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
There is a zero tolerance blood alcohol policy for drivers under age 21 in California. If alcohol is present in any amount in the system of a driver under 21, the driver can be convicted of DUI. It is also illegal to operate a vehicle in California while impaired by drugs or medications, including illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications.
In addition to pressing criminal charges, the victims of drunk driving accidents and their families have the right to pursue claims in civil court to recover monetary damages. If a drunk driver is arrested for, or convicted of, DUI or DWI in California, you have the right to file a civil claim immediately. You do not have to wait for the criminal trial to conclude before you pursue civil legal action.
The procedures and verdicts in your civil case will be separate from the criminal case. While a conviction in criminal court may help your civil case, the drunk driver does not have to be convicted in criminal court for you to file a civil claim. The level of proof required to win a civil claim is lower than the level required to obtain a conviction in criminal court. There may be many reasons why a drunk driver is not convicted in criminal court that do not apply to civil cases, so even if the drunk driver is not convicted, you may still seek compensation through a civil claim.
A number of parties may be held responsible for drunk driving accidents, including:
- Drivers. Drunk drivers are responsible for their own behavior, including choosing to drive their vehicles after consuming alcohol.
- Hosts. People who host parties where alcohol is served can be held liable in the event a guest causes a drunk driving accident, especially if the host was known to provide alcohol to the guest after he or she was clearly inebriated.
- Bar/Restaurant Staff & Owners. Bar and restaurant owners and employees can also be held responsible for drunk driving accidents. It is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.
When you call us after your drunk driving accident, we’ll investigate the accident and any contributing factors, including any parties or bars where the negligent driver may have consumed alcohol prior to causing the crash. Then, we’ll fight to get you damages for your accident-related expenses.
At the Law Offices of James S. Hong and Associates, we’ve been helping injured victims in our community for more than 35 years. We care about our community and the people in it. To help aid the fight against drunk driving, our California DUI Lawyers designed the Safe and Sober Free Cab Ride Home program.
With the help of the Safe and Sober program, our California law firm seeks to raise community awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and to encourage individuals to make responsible choices. We provide a safe transportation alternative on many of the traditionally high alcohol consumption holidays by giving free cab rides to area residents who otherwise might attempt to drive home after drinking.
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