The consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance are serious. In fact, just this November, six people suffered injuries from a multi-vehicle collision that happened near Lassen Street and Amestoy Avenue in Northridge, Los Angeles.
One of the drivers crossed over a double yellow line onto oncoming traffic. The officers arrested that driver on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). The victims of the violent crash have a right to sue the driver even though the driver has not yet received a DUI conviction.
Driving under the influence is negligence per se
Every driver has a duty of care to other people on the road, including motorists and pedestrians. Motor vehicle accidents that cause injuries require potential plaintiffs to prove negligence, which is failure to exercise a duty of reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. Negligence can be challenging to prove because the plaintiff would have to find evidence that the driver broke a law or statute in one way or another.
However, in this case, the officers already arrested and charged the driver with a DUI. The driver is negligent per se. Negligence per se translates to “negligence in itself.” Because the driver already violated California’s DUI laws by operating a vehicle while under the influence, the plaintiff no longer needs to prove negligence. The burden of proof will now fall on the DUI driver, meaning the driver must gather substantial material evidence to show that their negligent actions did not cause the injuries.
Victims of a DUI accident can hold the driver accountable
A DUI conviction is not necessary to sue the driver for damages. The purpose of criminal laws is to punish the defendant, while civil liability laws allow victims to receive compensation for another’s wrongful actions. A victim looking to hold the DUI driver accountable through a personal injury lawsuit only needs to establish that the driver, more likely than not, drove under the influence and injured them. They can seek compensation for the damages the intoxicated driver caused to them.