With a multitude of art galleries, import and antique stores, boutiques, and cafes, Solana Beach is a hot destination for coastal tourists. Solana Beach is also famous for its beautiful beaches, and for being the first city in the country to ban smoking on them.
Unfortunately, seaside retreats like ours are not exempt from the plague of drunk driving on the city’s roads and highways. Despite the illegality of driving while intoxicated, both residents and tourists alike continue to engage in this dangerous activity.
Solana Beach residents should have a compassionate resource to turn to should the worst occur, and we find ourselves involved in an accident with a drunk driver. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a drunk driving accident in the Solana Beach area, contact the experienced legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to discuss your eligibility to seek compensation for your injuries.
A Recent Solana Beach Accident Illustrates the Problem
Drunk driving accidents are among the most deadly driving behaviors, resulting in around 30 deaths a day in the U.S.—or one every 50 minutes. Drunk driving accounts for nearly a third of all traffic crash fatalities.
For example, a man and an 11-year-old boy were seriously injured in Solana Beach after an alleged drunk driver crashed into them with her car as they were riding their bicycles with family and friends. According to reports, the driver suddenly veered off the road and onto the sidewalk where the group was riding their bicycles. Afterward, the driver reportedly fled the scene and was followed by a witness until she stopped at the intersection of South Sierra Avenue and Linda Mar Drive.
Deputies arrested the woman there, and she was taken to jail on the charges of DUI and felony hit-and-run. The boy was transported to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his leg. The man was transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital, suffering from a serious head injury.
In Solana Beach, more than a dozen people are killed and injured each year due to alcohol-related collisions. If a drunk driver injured you, a Solana Beach drunk driving accident lawyer can help you to understand the legal process of recovering damages caused by the accident.
The Dangers of Drunk Driving
With more than 10,000 lives claimed each year, drunk driving comes with annual societal costs of around $44 billion in workplace losses, lost productivity, legal and court expenses, medical costs, emergency medical services, insurance administration, traffic congestion, and property damage. Alcohol is a dangerous substance for drivers, as it reduces the brain’s ability to function, creating impairments to many of the skills needed for driving.
When drivers are suspected of being alcohol-impaired, they are often given blood or breath alcohol tests. Alcohol impairment is determined by measuring the weight of alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is known as BAC, or blood alcohol concentration. Legal impairment for most drivers is set at 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. In California, drivers under the age of 21 are considered impaired if they have a BAC of 0.01.
Unfortunately, impairment doesn’t begin when a person reaches a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. It actually begins with the first drink. Consider the following deficits associated with different levels of impairment:
At 0.02 BAC, which is generally achieved through one drink, a person will begin experiencing a decline in visual functions, such as the ability to track a moving target, as well as the ability to perform two tasks at once.
At 0.05 BAC, the person may be exhibiting exaggerated behavior, have difficulty focusing his or her eyes, difficulty steering the vehicle, a reduction in the response necessary for emergency driving situations, and a reduction in coordinated movement.
At 0.08 BAC, the legal limit for impairment, an individual is experiencing a loss of the muscle coordination needed for balance, speech, reaction time, and hearing. Judgment, self-control, and reasoning are all affected. A driver at the legal impairment limit will likely experience difficulty with concentration and short-term memory, impairments to his or her perception, and a marked reduction in the ability to process information such as signal detection and visual search skills.
At 0.10 BAC, the individual will be experiencing a clear deterioration of reaction time and control. He or she will exhibit slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking. There will be noticeable deterioration of the ability to maintain lane position or to brake effectively.
At 0.15 BAC, the person will experience a major loss of balance, far less muscle control than normal, substantial impairment to the ability to control the vehicle, pay attention to the task of driving, and audio-visual information processing.
Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities involve drivers who are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08.
Portrait of a Drunk Driver
What does a drunk driver look like? What kind of person drinks and drives and where do they do it? The truth is, anyone of any age can drink and drive. However, certain individuals are more likely to do so, based on statistics.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Males of all ages are more likely to drink and drive than females, at a rate of four to one.
Around a quarter of young drivers, ages 15 to 20 years old, who are involved in fatal crashes have a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
The highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal collisions are those in the 21 to 24-year-old age bracket. Following closely behind are those between the ages of 25 to 34.
Approximately one-quarter of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes were drunk at the time of the crash, with slightly more than half of those riders being over the age of 40.
Drivers with BACs of 0.08 or higher are 4.5 times more likely to have prior convictions for drunk driving.
22 percent of children under the age of 14 who are killed in traffic-related accidents are killed in drunk driving crashes, and 55 percent of the time, it is the driver of the vehicle carrying the child that is drunk.
Slightly more than half of all drunk driving accidents occur in urban areas rather than rural ones, and most accidents take place on non-interstate roadways.
Individuals over the age of 65 are the least likely of all age groups to drink and drive.
Nighttime is the time when most drunk driving accidents occur. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers is 3.4 times higher at night than it is during the day.
Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving is the number one cause of death on U.S. roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). All drivers can help to prevent drunk driving accidents.
Here are some prevention tips:
If you are planning to drink, arrange in advance to have a sober driver take you home. If you cannot find a sober driver where you are, arrange for a rideshare or a taxi.
If you have a gathering that will feature alcohol, make sure that your guests who drink do not drive. One effective method of doing this is to confiscate the keys of your guests, and only return those keys to a sober driver.
Be sure to wear your seatbelt, even if you’re only going down the street. While this does not prevent drunk driving accidents, it is your main source of protection if you encounter another driver on the road who is impaired.
If you see indications that an individual is driving while impaired, give that driver space and call 911. Signs of a driver who could be impaired include weaving or drifting from one lane to another, speeding or driving too slowly, a slow response to the changing of a traffic light from red to green, tailgating, driving in an area other than a road designated for vehicles, erratic braking or stopping without cause, driving with the headlights off at night, driving into opposing traffic on the wrong side of the road, or turning abruptly or illegally.
MADD also advocates for stronger enforcement of drunk driving laws by:
Ignition interlock laws that require an individual who has been convicted of drunk driving. Ignition interlock devices require an individual to submit to a breathalyzer that is connected to the ignition of their vehicle. If the breathalyzer indicates alcohol consumption, the vehicle will not start. California began a pilot program using interlock devices that the state scheduled to run for offenders whose offenses occurred between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2025. Under this state program, repeat DUI offenders and individuals involved in DUI injury crashes are required to install an ignition interlock device and use it for between one and four years, depending on the number of previous convictions they’ve had. MADD statistics indicate a 67 percent reduction in repeat offenses in states that require the installation of these devices upon conviction of driving under the influence.
Utilizing sobriety checkpoints, which are reported to reduce drunk driving by 17 percent. While some states do not allow sobriety checkpoints, the practice is legal in California. When drivers stop at a sobriety checkpoint, they are required to provide their name, driver’s license, and registration. Under California’s implied consent law, if an officer believes that a driver has been drinking and requests that they take a chemical test, they are obligated to do so or risk having their driver’s license suspended. However, drivers need not tell an officer whether they were drinking nor submit to a field sobriety test, even if the officer has requested that they perform one.
Advanced driver technology: Since 2006, MADD has advocated for the use of advanced driver technology that will prevent individuals from drinking and driving. Two technologies that the organization has touted are a touch-based system that can read the BAC of a driver through their fingertips, and an air-sampling system that can isolate and test the air that is exhaled by the driver.
If You Were Injured by a Drunk Driver in Solana Beach, Call Gomez Trial Attorneys
If you were injured in an accident caused by an impaired driver, a drunk driving accident lawsuit can help to compensate you for your losses.
The damages available in this type of claim include:
Medical expenses, including emergency treatment at the scene as well as in the emergency department; transport to the hospital by air or ambulance; diagnostic testing, physician services, surgical services, prescription medications, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
Lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related appointments.
Loss of future earning capacity if the severity of your injuries renders you unable to perform at the job you formerly held or permanent disability renders you unable to work at all.
The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
Non-economic damages, including physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent disability, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
For a successful outcome to your claim, you must prove the following elements:
The other driver owed you a duty of care to operate his or her vehicle safely and legally.
There was a breach in the driver’s duty of care when he or she chose to drive while intoxicated.
This breach caused the accident and resultant injury, expenses, and life impacts.
Guidance as to the legal options that are available to you.
Determination of all sources of liability and all available insurance resources that can be accessed to provide your compensation.
The establishment of a value to your case that is based on the expenses you have incurred and the damages that you’ve faced as a result of your injuries.
Timely filing of court paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
Communication with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to obtain a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
Collecting evidence and deposing witnesses to help prove liability and damages.
Attendance at all pre-trial hearings and conferences.
Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing statements as well as the examination and cross-examination of witnesses.
Assistance in collecting your settlement or award.
Further representation if the defendant in your case files an appeal.
John Gomez, Solana Beach Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
Let our skilled Solana Beach car accident attorneys help answer the questions you have about obtaining compensation after a drunk driving accident. For a free consultation, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online or by calling (619) 237-3490.