San Diego DUI Accident Lawyers
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Award-Winning San Diego DUI Accident Lawyers Seeking Justice For Those Injured In DUI Accidents
San Diego’s renowned beaches, picturesque parks, mild climate, and natural deep-water harbor continue to draw both tourists and, unfortunately, negligent drunk motorists. While some drunk driving accidents are minor fender benders, others are tragic. Deciding to drink and drive diminishes a person’s judgment and endangers others, often leading to catastrophic injuries and property damage. Speak to San Diego DUI accident lawyers from Arash Law, founded by famous attorney Arash Khorsandi, Esq., if you or a loved one suffers from a DUI crash.
San Diego, situated next to the Mexican border and near the Pacific Ocean, is the eighth most populous city in the U.S. and the second in California, with 1,386,932 as of 2020. The county is also the fifth most populous in the nation, with 3,338,330 as of 2019.
San Diego has long been associated with the Marine Corps and United States Navy, and in recent years, it has seen an emergence in the healthcare and biotechnology sectors. Despite these notable developments, the city also grapples with the significant challenge of ranking first in DUI rates in California. To address this issue, the city has implemented various patrols and DUI education campaigns, along with county-wide checkpoints.
With roughly 50,000 miles of California highways serving commuters, tourists, and nature enthusiasts alike, travelers can immerse themselves in beautiful landscapes, stunning views, and vibrant cities. Unfortunately, the journey may also bring encounters with careless or drunk drivers. Night driving, in particular, is the most harrowing since that is when most DUI accidents happen.
If you suffer a severe injury from a drunk driving accident or a family member is killed, you understand how impactful DUI accidents are. Speak to dedicated and compassionate DUI accident lawyers in San Diego for legal assistance.
Our client was driving with his wife and son on a two-lane highway when a drunk driver crossed the double yellow lines, causing a head-on collision that claimed the life of a loving wife and mother.
– ARASH KHORSANDI
Driving Under The Influence or DUI Explained
Before San Diego DUI accident attorneys take legal action, you must understand what a DUI is. DUI, short for “driving under the influence,” is when a person operates a motor vehicle while their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level is above the legal limit, which varies depending on age, occupation, and other factors.
California DUI laws apply to more than just alcohol. It also refers to illegal drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications. Drivers cannot hit the road if they consume alcohol, medicines, or both. These actions are dangerous and illegal that a first DUI without injuries is considered a misdemeanor.
The Numbers on DUI Crashes Speak Volumes
The most recent 2017 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration findings reveal some shocking statistics. The compiled data shows:
- Nationwide, there was an average of one death every 48 minutes.
- Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 10,874 fatal collisions.
- 32% of fatal accidents occur at night, while 9% happen during the day.
- 1,492 fatally injured passengers in drunk driver’s vehicles also had BACs over the legal limit.
- In California, 31% of fatal accidents involve a driver under the influence.
- Drunk drivers in California resulted in 1,120 deaths, which is over 10% of the national fatality amount.
- California is the second-highest state for DUI-related deaths in the country. Texas is the first.
The more alcohol someone consumes, the higher the probability they will harm others. Since it reduces the drinker’s awareness, they might not identify a potential danger when their beer goggles are on. As the alcohol enters the bloodstream, the drinker’s judgment is much lower, which is dangerous since judgment is the most vital skill for driving. It is also the first skill to suffer, as even low levels of impairment can impact judgment.
If you suffer from a drunk driving accident in San Diego, you must speak with Arash Law’s award-winning San Diego DUI accident attorneys.
Alcohol Impairment Begins with Low BACs
The legal intoxication limit for private passenger vehicles is 0.08%, a pivotal threshold that serves as the focal point for many statistics and state laws and regulations. It applies to almost every state except Utah, where the lower limit is 0.05%. While no other states have done the same, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believes lowering BACs even more is beneficial to lowering DUI accidents, as alcohol impairment while driving remains a safety issue. Another recommendation is additional law enforcement, stricter laws, and ignition interlock devices.
Lower BACs are just as dangerous as the higher legal limit, according to NHTSA. Among the 10,874 alcohol-related car accident deaths, most drivers had a BAC of over 0.08%. However, 1,837 fatal crashes had BACs between 0.01 and 0.07%. So why does it matter?
NHTSA research looks at how lower BACs impact drivers’ abilities. They found that a driver’s cognitive and physical functions decline when a person has 0.02% BAC per deciliter. Alcohol can impact a person’s visual abilities and lead to a loss of judgment. When a person reaches 0.05%, they lose some small muscle control, leading to reduced coordination and other effects.
While the legal limit is 0.08%, lower BACs can still affect driving ability. You should speak to capable DUI accident attorneys in San Diego to determine your legal options. Arash Law can provide guidance when you get injured after a drunk driver with a low BAC causes an accident.
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Courts
While drunk driving accidents can lead to civil and criminal charges, you should remember different courts handle them, as they have separate systems. A common situation is when the person under the influence is not charged with DUI. Victims may assume they have no legal options, but such a belief is inaccurate. Proficient San Diego DUI accident lawyers can assess your legal recourse for compensation.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that less than 2% of drunk driving incidents lead to arrests. Regardless, you have the right to pursue a settlement whether the drunk driver in your situation was charged or convicted. Civil law offers protection for injury victims. Fortunately for you, the burden of proof in these cases is lower than in criminal court.
Criminal cases are different, as they have a higher burden of proof. You must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver is guilty. If so, drivers convicted of DUI can face jail time, fines, license suspension, and restitution. Discuss how a criminal case can impact your civil claim with skilled DUI accident attorneys in San Diego.
What Are The Penalties for A DUI?
DUI offenders can face different penalties depending on individual circumstances. California law outlines these consequences. Some factors to consider are the driver’s record, level of intoxication, injuries, and more.
For a first-time DUI conviction, drivers can face the following penalties:
- Fines – Convicted DUI motorists will face fines between $350 and $1,000. The financial obligation can increase if there is a penalty assessment. The final total will be in the thousands of dollars.
- License suspension – The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue a four-month administrative suspension. Drivers may also have a six-month suspension upon conviction.
- Jail time – First-time offenders will often have a lenient sentence, which involves a three to five-year probation. If the driver receives a jail sentence, it can range from 48 hours to six months.
- DUI school – A DUI offender may complete a three-month DUI school course in addition to the other penalties. It usually involves the completion of 30 hours, but course length can vary. If the driver has a higher blood alcohol level, they will likely have a longer course, which can be anywhere from 60 hours to nine months. There are four DUI schools in San Diego County.
San Diego DUI accident attorneys can help address the potential consequences drunk drivers will face. These penalties can be higher if there is an accident resulting in injuries. DUI convictions will stay on driving records for ten years.
Second and third DUI offenses within ten years have steeper penalties. It can lead to at least one year in jail and a two-year license suspension. The team of San Diego DUI accident lawyers at Arash Law can inform you how these penalties affect your circumstances.
Drunk Drivers Cause Catastrophic Injuries
Drivers can act in unpredictable ways when under the influence of alcohol, which increases their chances of causing accidents and injuries. Often, they will lose control, become distracted, and speed up. Alcohol also diminishes reaction times and physical capabilities. As a result, they are unable to initiate preventive measures while driving. These factors make crashes inevitable.
Distractions, speeding, and failure to make evasive maneuvers create the perfect storm for drunken crashes. These collisions are often severe enough to cause catastrophic injuries and extensive damage. Victims may suffer devastating injuries like brain and spinal cord trauma. The Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems database finds that about 51% of 16,495 TBI patients suffered these injuries during car accidents. Additionally, the National Spinal Cord Statistical Center attributes 31.3% of the 32,727 SCI patients to vehicular accidents.
Drunk driving crashes cause significant life disruptions that require lifelong medical treatment. Injury victims may endure pain, familial changes, and physical impairments. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Paralysis from spinal cord trauma
- Fatal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Disc injuries
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Traumatic amputations
- Fractures and crushed bones
- Colliding with an object
- Broadside accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
Who Is Responsible for San Diego DUI Accidents?
When drivers choose to drink and drive, they are responsible for their actions. However, other entities may share liability with the driver.
- Private passenger vehicle – When a driver causes an accident due to negligent acts, they are responsible for damages. If they are driving a car they do not own, the vehicle owner is also responsible. The owner shares liability under California Financial Responsibility Laws §1600-16078 through negligent entrustment when they know or should have known the driver has a drinking and driving history, that even with this knowledge, they allowed the person to drive the car.
- Commercial vehicle – Several parties can share liability when commercial vehicles are involved in drunk driving accidents. If commercial vehicle operators like truckers and taxi drivers work for a transportation company, the employer shares liability for the negligent driver’s actions – they may be held liable when their employee drives under the influence. To prevent such liability issues, employers should conduct background checks and monitor their driver’s records periodically. They are negligent if they put drivers on the road without thoroughly checking them first.
- Social hosts and bars – Some states have dram shop laws that impose additional liability on bars, liquor stores, and social hosts. While California acknowledges DUI consumption is the driver’s responsibility, there still exists limited liability for social hosts and bars when a drinker is under 21.
Establishing liability is often a complex process in drunk driving collisions. You should speak to skilled San Diego DUI accident lawyers to uncover which liability issues apply to your case. Arash Law has decades of experience handling drunk driving accidents.
What Compensation Can San Diego DUI Accident Lawyers Recover for Injured Victims?
You can recover compensation for your damages when you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. The top DUI accident attorneys San Diego trusts can review your case and assess the damages you qualify for. Settlements may include general, economic, and sometimes punitive or exemplary damages.
These damages pay for out-of-pocket expenses and are typically easy to tabulate. If you suffer ongoing treatment, Arash Law’s DUI accident attorneys in San Diego can employ economic experts to project future expenses and losses. The legal team can calculate losses such as:
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Physician treatment costs
- Plastic surgery and scar revision
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Diminished earning capacity
- Medical transportation expenses
- Replacement services
- Prosthetic devices and mobility services
General damages are harder to calculate. They are based on the injured person’s experiences. They often consider lifestyle changes and emotional, social, and psychological concerns. Non-economic damages can include:
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of bodily function
- Permanent scars and disfigurement
- Impacts on family and spousal relationships
- Lifestyle changes
- Permanent impairments and limitations
Wrongful Death Damages
Surviving families have the right to pursue legal recourse when a drunk driving accident results in fatal injuries. They can file wrongful death actions. Recoverable damages are different in these cases than in typical personal injury cases. For instance, your San Diego wrongful death lawyer must consider the victim’s life expectancy.
Families can seek economic and non-economic damages. Economic losses can include gifts, financial support, and services the deceased will have provided to the household. It also includes funeral and burial expenses. Some non-economic damages cover the loss of consortium for the spouse or domestic partner and can also include financial and emotional support. Settlements will vary by case, so to know your legal options, speak to Arash Law’s San Diego DUI accident lawyers, spearheaded by famous attorney Arash Khorsandi, Esq., about wrongful death claims and payments.
San Diego’s Gruesome Truth – DUI by The Numbers
Authorities said 35 people were killed in DUI crashes in 2021. In 2020, 33 people died, which was the previous worst year in San Diego County for more than two decades, despite fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county typically averages around 15 to 20 DUI deaths annually.
San Diego also ranked number one in California for being the most drunk-driving city (having the highest rate of DUIs per driver), according to a study by insurance company Quote Wizard.
Why Does San Diego Rank So High for DUI?
DUI accidents can happen anywhere, but San Diego has become notorious for them. There are some reasons why these accidents are so prevalent in the area. Regardless of why these accidents happen, you must speak to our team of DUI accident lawyers in San Diego. What follows are some of the reasons why DUIs happen in San Diego.
Scenery and Weather
San Diego is known for its ideal weather and beautiful beaches. Some notable beaches where people take weekend getaways include La Jolla Shores Beach, Mission Beach Park, South Missouri Beach, and Pacific Beach. Sometimes, a drive along the coast is a relaxing event. However, when you add alcohol, that leisurely drive or weekend getaway can quickly become tragic. Drunken joyrides can lead to nightmarish collisions, debilitating injuries, and death.
Vacation Hot Spot
San Diego has miles of beautiful coastlines and year-round sunshine, making it a tourist hotspot. Often, tourists visit family, are on vacation, or celebrate a life event. The never-ending parties and get-togethers in the city have plenty of alcohol flowing, and the drinking can worsen when the party moves to local clubs or bars.
North Park and South Park have live music events and are major places in the craft beer scene. Downtown San Diego also has rooftop bars and nightclubs, where you can find a slew of sports, wine, and specialty cocktail bars. There are plenty of options for tourists looking for a good time. Conversely, it is terrible news for those on the road when drunk drivers leave these establishments. When these motorists hit the road after a night of drinking, they put everyone at risk.
Certain intersections in San Diego pose a significant risk to motorists and pedestrians. You must stay alert when you are traveling these roads. These intersections are dangerous under certain circumstances, but they become deadly when people choose to drink and drive, causing them to be less alert. Additionally, they lose coordination, judgment, and reaction times. The deadliest intersections in San Diego include:
- El Cajon Boulevard and 36th Street – This intersection is one of the most dangerous places to drive through, especially at night. Speeding drivers, dim lighting, and poor street design make this intersection hazardous for drivers and pedestrians alike. When a driver decides to go through the intersection while intoxicated, it leads to severe accidents and catastrophic injuries.
- University Avenue and 1st Avenue – With a poor design and poor lighting, more so at night, it ranks as one of San Diego’s most dangerous intersections. While best known for deadly pedestrian accidents, crashes of any kind can happen here.
- Coronado Avenue (S.B.) and Thermal Avenue – Considered a residential intersection, it is often full of foot traffic from nearby restaurants and homes. This junction also needs more lighting. Motorists often drive through the intersection while intoxicated, causing deadly collisions.
- 4th Avenue and B Street – Located in downtown near civic centers and office buildings, this intersection is commonly known for prominent businesses. Its easy access leads to heavy foot and vehicle traffic. Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for vehicles to strike pedestrians, especially after a few drinks.
Lack of Public Transportation
San Diego, compared to most other major cities, has a less-than-ideal public transportation system. Most excellent public transportation systems allow residents and tourists to get around efficiently. However, San Diego is heavily reliant on cars and passenger vehicles, meaning drunk drivers choose to drive because they cannot access public transit easily.
Settlement in a motor vehicle accident; client suffered internal injuries.– JUDD ROSS ALLEN
San Diego DUI Accident FAQs
Countless people are affected by DUI accidents in California and the rest of the country. You must speak to experienced San Diego DUI accident lawyers if you suffer an injury or a loved one dies in a drunk driving crash.
I was in an accident in San Diego and could smell alcohol on the other driver. What should I do?
The first thing you must do is to stay calm. Alcohol impairs a driver’s judgment not only while driving but in other situations as well. They might get angry and violent when confronted, so you should approach them with caution. California requires drivers to exchange information after an accident, including license plate numbers, insurance details, and contact information. If the driver looks willing to provide, get it.
However, if they seem belligerent and you feel your safety is threatened, refrain from engaging. Stay in your vehicle, lock your doors, and wait for the police. Sometimes, victims have to leave the scene because of safety concerns. If that applies to you, inform the 911 operator. Let them know why you are leaving and where you are going. They can direct the police officer to find you once they deal with the intoxicated driver.
I suffered an injury from a teenage driver in San Diego whose parents provided the alcohol. Who is liable for the accident?
While California does not have dram shop liability, which holds businesses liable if someone buys a drink from them and then causes harm, there are consequences for those who provide alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age. In this case, the child and parent can be liable. When minors receive their driver’s licenses, their parents sign a consent form, which says they consent to the child driving and accept liability for their child’s actions while driving. It is often known as parental liability.
The consent form is also a form of vicarious liability. This legal doctrine holds individuals indirectly liable for injuries. They do not have to cause these injuries themselves to be responsible. For example, a parent who provides alcohol to a minor will fall on the legal spectrum. Aside from these consequences, parents can also face criminal penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors. Ask proficient DUI accident lawyers in San Diego for further clarification.
The San Diego drunk driver who caused my accident was arrested. Does that mean I don’t have to file a claim?
You still must file a claim to pursue compensation for your injuries. Two legal actions will occur when a motorist is under the influence. Apart from filing a San Diego DUI accident lawsuit, there will also be a criminal investigation into the drunk driver spearheaded by the government. It can result in an arrest if the driver is convicted. Additionally, the drunk driver can face financial consequences, incarceration, and complete an alcohol education program.
San Diego DUI accident attorneys will handle the civil claim made on behalf of the injured individual. The goal is to recover compensation from the negligent driver or insurance company. Since the government is not involved, there is no risk of incarceration. And while both proceedings can happen simultaneously, they do not impact each other. The only time one can affect the other is by using the results of the criminal process as evidence in the civil claim.
How do I obtain compensation after a San Diego DUI accident?
You can recover compensation after a DUI accident in San Diego by filing a third-party claim. You can pursue this claim through the drunk driver’s insurance company or file a lawsuit in civil court. What often happens is that injured parties will file an insurance claim before contacting a personal injury law firm. In such a case, the insurance company will offer a low settlement, leading them to seek legal assistance.
Another reason injury victims contact San Diego DUI accident lawyers is when there is no progress toward a settlement. To get a successful outcome, you must prove the following:
- The drunk driver (at-fault party) owes you a duty of care related to actions a reasonable person will take in a similar situation. All California drivers agree to this duty when they get their licenses.
- This duty was breached when a driver drinks and acts negligently.
- The breach led to the accident, causing your injuries and financial losses. You must show the effects of your injury on your life.
I was unconscious at the scene and didn’t get the other driver’s information. Do I still have a San Diego DUI accident case?
Although California requires driver exchange, there is an exemption for those suffering severe injuries. When injuries leave you unable to exchange information, you can still file a San Diego car accident claim. And since the police will likely arrive and gather the necessary information, you can request a copy of the police report or through trusted San Diego DUI accident attorneys.
I cannot afford San Diego DUI accident lawyers. Can I file a claim myself?
Technically speaking, you can file a claim through the insurance company. However, since the legal process is highly complex, especially when it involves a DUI, you will want someone with legal experience and specialized training. The DUI accident lawyers San Diego trusts understand the process, court requirements, and evidence you need to support your claim, negotiating on your behalf.
It is easy to realize how you benefit from having a personal injury attorney. However, many are apprehensive, thinking they cannot afford their services, especially when facing the struggles of handling the unexpected expenses of car accidents. Fortunately, Arash Law has two services that make it easier to retain the critical legal representation you need regardless of your financial status. These services include:
- A free case evaluation with no obligation – Our attorney can answer your legal questions and outline your legal options.
- Contingency fee basis for claims – Under this premise, you owe nothing for legal services until a successful outcome.
We can pursue the compensation you deserve for your case. Do not let your financial status prevent you from contacting trusted DUI accident attorneys in San Diego. You can contact us online or by calling the office.
The San Diego drunk driver who hit me was uninsured. What can I do?
While all drivers in California should legally maintain insurance coverage, over 15% do not. Uninsured drivers cause severe financial hardship and emotional trauma to accident victims that insurance policies pay most of the damages, which is where the money for settlements and payouts comes from. Ultimately, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
It is possible to get a favorable judgment by pursuing compensation from the at-fault parties. Unfortunately, if someone cannot afford insurance, they may not have the funds to pay for accident injuries out of pocket, making collecting funds challenging. Instead, you may get payment through your insurance policy.
Injury victims can obtain compensation using their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or personal health insurance plan. Other policies may be available that can pay for your losses. When you work with DUI accident attorneys in San Diego, they can find all liable parties and available insurance policies.
How do liable parties defend their actions?
You might assume there are few defenses available for drunk drivers. In fact, the insurance company will do its best to use them all and control settlement negotiations. The insurer’s goal is to preserve its client’s policy limit, so they will offer lowball offers to save money.
Commercial policy limits are usually much higher than private vehicles. Even then, insurance companies will negotiate to minimize insurance claim payouts. If the transportation company self-insures drivers, liability and payouts will change. They will fight even harder to lower the claim so they do not have to pay from corporate funds.
Sometimes, defendants will push these cases to trial. The insurance company has substantial funds to delay the process and build a defense, counting on the plaintiff not having the same financial resources. The goal is to get the judge to render a lower verdict. Sometimes, they will use a catch-all defense strategy.
You must work with our team of San Diego DUI accident lawyers to prepare strategies for trial. The goal is to avoid trial and settle out of court, but our team is ready to go as far as possible to get you the compensation you deserve.
Speak to Our San Diego DUI Accident Lawyers for Free Consultation
If you or a loved one sustained injuries from a DUI accident in San Diego, you must speak to our award-winning San Diego DUI accident attorneys. Discuss the details of your case during a free case review and determine your eligibility and legal options. Arash Law, run by the talented team of Arash Khorsandi, Esq., is here to protect your rights.