At The Dominguez Firm, we understand the devastating impact that DUI (driving under the influence) accidents have on victims and their families. As a leading personal injury law firm serving all of Southern California, we specialize in advocating for those who have suffered due to the acts of drunk or drugged drivers.

Each year, countless lives are shattered by preventable car accidents caused by impaired drivers. Despite strict laws and public awareness campaigns, DUI incidents continue to cause irreparable harm. Victims often face serious injuries, long-term disabilities, or tragically, even death. What compounds the tragedy is that DUI perpetrators may receive lenient criminal sentences, failing to fully account for the pain and suffering they’ve caused.

However, justice can still be pursued through civil court. Even if a DUI driver escapes serious criminal consequences, our car accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm can help victims seek financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. Call us at (800) 818-1818 for a free consultation today. Together, we can fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

California and National Impaired Driving Statistics 

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS):

  • DUI Deaths: 1,370 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in California in 2021.
  • Trend: There was a disturbing 16% increase in drunk driving fatalities between 2020 and 2021.

Of the 15 largest cities in California, Los Angeles ranked tenth for people injured and killed in DUI accidents with 2,033 victims. Long Beach ranked third with 299 victims. If you were wondering, Sacramento had the sad distinction of ranking first with 508 DUI accident injuries and deaths.

Nationally, the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show:

  • 13,524 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2022.
  • This translates into an average of 37 victims per day or one person every 39 minutes.

These statistics aren’t just numbers. Each one represents a person who was senselessly killed or injured due to someone else’s irresponsible behavior. These tragic incidents deeply impact victims and their loved ones, highlighting the human cost of this preventable problem.

What DUI Laws Does California Have?

California has strict DUI laws with escalating consequences depending on the severity of the offense.

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): The legal limit in California is 0.08% BAC for drivers over 21. However, anyone can be arrested for DUI if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol, regardless of BAC level.
  • First Time Offense: A first-time DUI can result in up to six months in prison, fines up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension for up to six months, mandatory DUI classes, and depending on the circumstances, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the defendant’s vehicle.
  • Repeat Offenders: Penalties become much harsher for subsequent offenses within ten years. Second or third DUIs can lead to longer jail sentences (up to one year), increased fines, longer license suspensions or revocations, and mandatory DUI classes. Prosecutors may even file felony DUI charges for repeat offenders, especially if there are injuries involved.
  • Fatalities vs. Injuries: The penalties for DUI are significantly harsher if the accident results in fatalities. DUI causing injury can be a misdemeanor or felony, while DUI causing death is always a felony with potential prison sentences.

These are just some of the key facts about California’s DUI laws. If you’ve been impacted by a DUI accident, don’t wait to consult with a personal injury law firm experienced in handling drunk or drugged driver accident cases.

How Do DUI Accidents Differ From Regular Car Accidents? 

DUI accidents have several key differences compared to regular car accidents:

1. Liability and Fault

In DUI accidents, liability is often clearer because driving under the influence is illegal and strongly implies negligence. In regular car accidents, determining fault can be more complex and may require detailed investigation.

2. Criminal Charges

DUI accidents involve criminal charges against the intoxicated driver, in addition to civil claims for damages. Regular car accidents usually involve only civil claims unless there is criminal behavior such as reckless driving.

3. Punitive Damages

Victims of DUI accidents may be eligible for punitive damages, which are meant to punish the drunk driver and deter similar behavior. Regular car accident claims typically do not include punitive damages unless there is particularly malicious misconduct.

4. Insurance Claims

Insurance companies may handle DUI accident claims differently, often being more aggressive in pursuing compensation from the drunk driver’s insurance. This can sometimes result in faster settlements for victims.

5. Evidence Collection

DUI accident cases often have additional evidence such as police reports, breathalyzer results, and witness testimony about the driver’s behavior and intoxication level. This evidence can strengthen the victim’s case.

6. Legal Consequences for the Driver

The intoxicated driver faces not only civil liability but also severe legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. In regular car accidents, the consequences are usually limited to traffic citations and civil liabilities.

7. Impact on Victims

Victims of DUI accidents may experience more significant emotional and psychological trauma due to the criminal nature of the accident and the knowledge that it was preventable.

I Lost a Family Member in a DUI Accident. What Are My Rights?

Losing a loved one in a DUI accident is a devastating experience. If you’re in this painful situation, it’s important to know that you have rights and options to seek justice and compensation if you are the legal next-of-kin of the deceased. The order in California is:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Parents

If you don’t fall into any of the categories listed above, you may still be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney specializing in wrongful death lawsuits can help you determine your legal standing in relation to the deceased.

  1. Wrongful Death Claim: As a family member, you can file a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver. This claim seeks compensation for the emotional and financial losses caused by the accident.
  2. Compensation: You may be entitled to compensation for various damages, including:
    • Funeral and burial expenses
    • Loss of income that the deceased would have provided
    • Loss of companionship and support
    • Pain and suffering
  3. Punitive Damages: In DUI cases, courts may award punitive damages to punish the drunk driver and deter similar behavior in the future.
  4. Victim’s Rights: As a victim’s family member, you have the right to be informed about the criminal proceedings against the driver and to make a victim impact statement during sentencing.

Steps to Take After a Fatal DUI Accident

  1. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer: A lawyer specializing in DUI accidents can guide you through the legal process, help gather evidence, and represent your interests in court.
  2. Gather Evidence: Collect any evidence related to the accident, such as police reports, witness statements, and medical records. Your lawyer can help with this process.
  3. File a Claim: Your lawyer will help you file a wrongful death claim within the statute of limitations, ensuring that your case is heard in a timely manner.
  4. Seek Support: Dealing with the loss of a loved one is incredibly challenging. Consider seeking support from counseling services or support groups to help you cope with your grief.

What Compensation is Available for the Victims of DUI Accidents?

If you’ve been seriously injured in a DUI accident, understanding the types of compensation available can be crucial in the recovery process. In California, victims of drunk or drugged driving accidents may be entitled to two main categories of compensation: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages are intended to reimburse you for financial losses directly resulting from the accident. These can include medical expenses such as hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing medical care. Additionally, economic damages may cover lost wages if you’re unable to work due to your injuries. For instance, if you sustained a severe injury that requires long-term treatment and prevents you from returning to your job immediately, economic damages can help cover these financial setbacks.

Non-Economic Damages compensate for the emotional and intangible losses you’ve experienced. These damages are harder to quantify as they encompass pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and psychological trauma caused by the accident and its aftermath. Unlike economic damages, there is no specific cap on non-economic damages in California, allowing victims to seek compensation that reflects the true extent of their suffering.

In some cases, victims may also pursue Punitive Damages, which are designed to punish the DUI driver for their reckless behavior and deter others from similar actions in the future. These damages go beyond compensating the victim and are intended to send a clear message that drunk or drugged driving will not be tolerated in society.

Regardless of what happens in criminal court—whether the DUI driver is charged, convicted, or acquitted—you still have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit in California. This means you can seek justice and compensation through the civil legal system even if the criminal justice system does not provide the outcome you hoped for.

Call the DUI Accident Attorneys at The Dominguez Firm Today

If you or someone close to you was injured by a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, The Dominguez Firm can help. Let our award-winning litigation attorneys help you seek justice and hold the perpetrator accountable for their senseless act.

Call us at (800)818-1818 today for a free consultation. We are here for you!

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— Ashley Magana

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My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.

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