According to the latest data from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), traffic fatalities in the Golden State are on the rise. California has more fatal car accidents each year than any other state according to the Insurance Information Institute (III); and, while these fatal accidents result from a variety of different causes, data from the OTS point to one cause as being particularly prevalent.
This cause is drunk driving.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one because of the careless or reckless actions of a negligent driver, the Bakersfield car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine may be able to help. Our firm has the knowledge and skill to handle even the most complex cases.
California Traffic Fatality Statistics
According to California OTS data, roughly 10% of all fatal car accidents in California involve at least one driver who was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. The III’s data suggest that distracted driving is a close second—accounting for 9% of all fatal car accidents nationwide.
In many California cities, drunk drivers cause more than 10% of fatal accidents. For example, the California OTS’s data show that close to 12% of all fatal car accidents in Bakersfield in 2019 involved alcohol impairment. This means that for every nine fatal car accidents in Bakersfield, on average one of these accidents was caused by a drunk driver.
Understanding the Dangers of Drunk Driving
Anyone who is capable of driving should know that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. We learn this during driver’s education, and we see constant reminders online, on television, and in real life.
Unfortunately, drunk driving remains a prevalent issue in cities like Bakersfield and other locales throughout California. Too often, people make bad decisions and put themselves in a position where they are capable of getting behind the wheel after drinking. Then, once they are too impaired to make the right decision, they get behind the wheel and attempt to drive home.
Alcohol consumption can severely impact a person’s ability to drive. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains:
“Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely.
“As alcohol levels rise in a person’s system, the negative effects on the central nervous system increase. . . .”
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take much alcohol to impair a person’s driving abilities. As the NHTSA reports, “[i] n 2019, there were 1,775 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a BAC of .01 to .07.” While many people assume that it is safe to drive if their BAC is below California’s legal limit of .08, the data prove that this is not the case.
According to the NHTSA, with a BAC of .02, drivers experience, “[s]ome loss of judgment; relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood,” as well as, “[d]ecline in visual functions [and] decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time.” By the time a person’s BAC reaches .08, that person is likely to experience impairments including:
- Poor muscle coordination and reaction time
- Poor vision and hearing
- Reduced ability to detect danger
- Reduced judgment, self-control, and reasoning
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of speed control
- Reduced information processing capability
- Impaired perception
With these effects (and the state’s high rate of alcohol consumption) in mind, it isn’t hard to see why drunk driving is among the most common reasons for traffic fatalities in California.
Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Fatal Drunk Driving Accident in California
What are your legal rights after a fatal drunk driving accident in California? Unfortunately, this is a question that far too many spouses, parents, children, and other loved ones are forced to ask each year.
If you have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you have clear rights under California law. Driving under the influence constitutes negligence per se, which means that if the other driver was drunk, all you need to prove is that his or her impairment is to blame for your loved one’s untimely death.
California law entitles grieving family members to pursue compensation for financial and non-financial losses they incur as a result of their loved one’s death through a wrongful death lawsuit. Punitive damages are potentially available in fatal drunk driving accident cases as well. If you have tragically lost a loved one to a drunk driver, it will be important for your family to work with a Bakersfield Car accident lawyer who can help you recover the full damages that are available.
Do you need to know more about filing a claim for a fatal drunk driving accident in California? If so, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation.
To discuss your family’s legal rights with Bakersfield car accident attorney Mickey Fine in confidence, call (661) 333-3333 or get in touch online today.