Help Prevent California Car Accidents This Holiday Season

drunk drivingThe holidays are a time for families getting together, seeing good friends, and sharing time with those we care about. Often times, we’re together for family dinners, or parties at people’s homes. It’s important to remember during this festive time, the potential consequences of drunk driving as we are out and about.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 32,885 people were killed in auto accidents in 2010. Thirty one percent of those accidents involved intoxicated drivers. 70% of those accidents involved drivers whose blood alcohol level was above .15 grams per deciliter or higher. In California, the law provides that you are driving intoxicated if your blood alcohol level exceeds .08. Therefore, 70% of those intoxicated drivers involved in fatal accidents had blood alcohol levels which were almost twice the legal limit in California.

When people drink and drive, they are putting their own lives at risk and the lives of others. If you are arrested for impaired driving, you can lose your driving privileges, incur higher insurance rates, pay court fines, attorneys fees, and spend time in jail.

In California, if you are intoxicated and injure someone in an automobile accident, you will be responsible for the personal injuries you cause. A personal injury claim includes payment of the injured person’s medical bills, compensation for lost earnings, and for their pain and suffering. These damages may be covered by your automobile liability insurance. However, if your limits are not high enough you may be personally responsible for payment of compensation to the injured person. If you are intoxicated, you may also be liable for punitive damages to the injured person. These are damages over and above those for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The damages are assessed as a punishment for driving drunk, with a conscious disregard for the safety of others. If someone dies as a result of one driving while intoxicated, the person would be responsible for wrongful death damages.

So this holiday season, you can help prevent a tragedy by taking these steps. Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the party begins. If you will be driving, do not plan to drink. Even one too many drinks increases the risk of a crash. If you have been drinking find another way home other than driving yourself. Use a taxi, call a friend, or use other public transportation.

As an Alameda personal injury lawyer, I have unfortunately seen many drunk driving accidents over the years. I have personally seen the tremendous impact such accidents can have on the innocent victims. This holiday season, please take all the steps necessary to keep your holiday, and your loved one’s, a safe and merry one.

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