The Impact of DUI on Car Accident Liability

Driving under the influence is one of the leading causes of car accidents in America. It is a reckless habit that smacks of negligence on the driver’s part. In 2023, in California alone, there were over 200,000 car crashes as a result of drunken driving. While DUI accidents can cause fatal injuries, they can also result in legal proceedings that are confusing, hard to navigate, and tough to wrap your head around. Did you know that a first-time offender in a DUI case can be imprisoned for no more than six months to a year? Despite the long jail time, DUI cases are on the rise.

The negative implications of DUI in Fresno, California, extend far beyond the immediate consequences of breaking laws and endangering lives. If someone you know has been involved in such an incident, seeking legal counsel from a firm like Kuzyk Law is a great idea. They can help you navigate the legal waters with ease. In this article, we will delve into the impact that DUI has on car accident liability and why all road users must understand these implications.

Understanding Car Accident Liability

Before delving into the role of DUI in car accident liability, it is essential to understand the concept itself. Car accident liability refers to determining who is legally responsible for compensating victims for their injuries and vehicle damage caused by a collision. Various factors are considered when establishing liability. These include traffic laws, driver negligence, witness statements, and available on-scene evidence.

DUI and Negligence

Driving under the influence fundamentally compromises a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Consuming alcohol or drugs impairs judgment, coordination, reflexes, and reaction time significantly. While DUI mainly refers to drunken driving, it can also extend to the usage of and driving after consuming hard drugs, or recreational drugs. As a result, individuals who choose to drive while not entirely in their senses demonstrate negligence towards others on the road.

Negligence Per Se

In many jurisdictions, driving under the influence falls under the legal umbrella of “negligence per se.” This concept infers that if one violates a law created to protect public safety – such as drinking alcohol above the legal limit before driving – they will automatically be considered negligent if an accident occurs as a result.

The Role of DUI in Establishing Fault

When assessing fault in car accidents involving intoxicated drivers, factors such as blood alcohol concentration (BAC), field sobriety test results (if applicable), eyewitness accounts, police reports, and any other relevant evidence are considered.

Comparative Negligence

It is important to note that even when one driver involved in an accident is found under the influence, the fault may be shared among multiple parties. In cases where both drivers are deemed at fault to some degree, many jurisdictions adhere to the comparative negligence principle. Under this, each party involved is assigned a percentage of liability based on their actions leading up to the collision.

Insurance and DUI Impact

A DUI conviction carries significant consequences, including potential challenges when dealing with insurance coverage. Insurance companies consider alcohol or drug consumption while driving as an intentional act that demonstrates high-risk behavior. As a result, policyholders convicted of DUI may face multiple repercussions in terms of insurance coverage.

SR-22 Filings

One common consequence for individuals convicted of DUI is the requirement to file an SR-22 form. An SR-22 certification serves as proof of future financial responsibility and is often necessary for reinstating driving privileges after a license suspension or revocation due to a DUI conviction.

Increased Insurance Premiums

A DUI conviction can lead to increased insurance premiums or even policy cancellation. Insurance companies view individuals with past DUI convictions as risks, resulting in higher premiums or exclusion from coverage. Under increased insurance premium, you have to pay a substantially higher amount at each cycle. 

Civil Lawsuits and Compensation

Car accident victims have the right to pursue compensation through civil lawsuits against intoxicated drivers responsible for their injuries and damages. Typically, the compensation sought covers medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any other relevant economic or noneconomic losses incurred as a direct result of the accident.

Punitive Damages

In cases involving gross negligence caused by driving under the influence – such as repeat offenders or accidents involving fatalities – courts may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages aim to punish the responsible party further and deter others from engaging in similar actions in the future.


Driving under the influence poses serious risks not only to oneself but also to all other road users. The impact of a drunk driving-related car accident on liability cannot be understated. By understanding how DUI contributes to car accident liability, we can support efforts to prevent such incidents and strive towards safer roads for all. Remember, the decision not to drive under the influence is a decision to prioritize safety and save lives.

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