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.
Solana Beach Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
The eating and drinking establishments in Solana Beach are second to none. However, an unfortunate aspect of having places to enjoy adult beverages is that some people choose to drink and then leave in their vehicles. Alcohol impairment is one of the most common causes of car accidents with 30 people dying in drunk driving crashes each day and hundreds of thousands left to recover from serious injuries each year.
If a drunk driver injured you, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts on your life caused by the accident. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Solana Beach drunk driving accidents.
How do I recover damages after being injured in a Solana Beach drunk driving accident?
If an accident was caused by a drunk driver and injured you, you can seek damages—which means receiving payment for the harm you’ve suffered—through a civil lawsuit. This is a legal claim filed in civil court that seeks to prove that the other driver is legally liable for your injuries and the related expenses and impacts.
In most cases, plaintiffs must file drunk driving lawsuits within two years of the accident or lose the right to recover damages.
The Solana Beach drunk driver who hit me was leaving a bar. Can the bar also be found liable for the accident?
Potentially. California law explicitly states that “the furnishing of alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries resulting from intoxication, but rather the consumption of alcoholic beverages is the proximate cause of injuries inflicted upon another by an intoxicated person.” While the language of the law absolves most social hosts (including bars) from liability for drunk driving accidents, there are some exceptions. These include parents or legal guardians who furnish alcohol in their home to a person they knew or reasonably should have known was under 21 and business establishments who serve alcohol to a visibly drunk individual that they knew or had reason to know was a minor.
How do I know if the Solana Beach driver who hit me was drunk?
Often, the police officer who investigated the accident will include information about driver intoxication in their accident report, which you can obtain from the police station after the officer files it. If the driver was visibly drunk or the officer smelled alcohol while speaking to them, the officer will generally note those facts and will say whether they arrested the driver because they suspected the driver was drunk. The officer’s general notes about the accident may contain a narrative about what the officer believed caused the accident based on interviews with all parties and evidence from the scene.
Who else can be liable in a Solana Beach drunk driving accident?
Generally, liability in a drunk driving accident rests with the drunk driver.
However, there are some situations in which other individuals could share liability, including:
Other drivers on the roadway. Accidents are often not so black and white to have the liability rest entirely with one party. If another driver’s negligence contributed to the accident, they can also be held responsible for the costs and impacts associated with your injuries and other damages.
The drunk driver’s employer, if they got into the accident while working and during the normal scope of their employment. This situation generally arises in accidents involving a drunk commercial truck or bus driver.
What is the average settlement in a Solana Beach drunk driving accident?
Settlements are developed based on the expenses that the injured party has incurred as a result of the accident, as well as the impacts that the accident has on the injured person’s life. Because the circumstances in every case are different, there is no “average” settlement. However, several factors can reduce or increase the value of your case.
These factors include:
How much insurance coverage the at-fault party has. Because insurance pays most settlements and awards and many people do not have the financial means to pay an injury claim out-of-pocket, it can be difficult to collect a settlement from an uninsured person. In this situation, the injured person might need to turn to other sources of compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help with this process.
How patient you’re willing to be. Agreeing to a settlement doesn’t take very much time. However, negotiating a fair settlement can take until just before (or after) a trial begins when the at-fault party faces paying for litigation and an uncertain outcome that could result in a judge or jury awarding a full payout in the case.
How old you are at the time of your accident. Your age usually correlates with the stage of your career. The costs for wage loss and lost earning capacity is generally higher for a person in the middle of their career than it is for a young person who hasn’t been working long or an older person who has already retired.
The clarity of liability. If the evidence makes it very clear that the accident was solely caused by the impaired driver, it will likely result in a higher payout than one in which fault is less clear.
Can I file a lawsuit against a Solana Beach drunk driver who was arrested at the scene?
Yes, provided you are otherwise eligible to file the lawsuit. An arrest is the first phase of the criminal legal process in which the local or state government files the complaint, prosecutes the case, and—if the suspect is convicted—orders punishment for the crime that often consists of both financial penalties and incarceration. If the victim chooses to file a drunk driving case, it goes through a separate, civil process in which the injured person attempts to prove that the drunk driver was liable for their injuries to obtain compensation for injury-related expenses and impacts.
While both cases arise from the same set of circumstances, a criminal case and a civil case are completely separate actions and the outcome in one case does not have a direct bearing on the outcome in the other case. You can pursue your civil case even if the drunk driver is incarcerated.
The Solana Beach drunk driver in my accident was a teenager. Are they liable or are their parents liable?
The answer to this question may depend on who owns and insures the car. If the teenage drunk driver was driving a car that their parents insured, then the parents’ insurance company will likely pay any compensation you receive for your injuries. Parents are also liable for drunk driving accident injuries if they served alcohol to their (or someone else’s) minor child.
What types of expenses can I be compensated for after a Solana Beach drunk driving accident?
California allows victims to seek both economic damages, which cover out-of-pocket costs such as medical expenses, as well as non-economic damages, which compensate the injured victim for the physical and emotional toll that the injury has had on their life.
Commonly included costs in economic damages are:
Lost wages, if the victim is too injured to work or must miss work for medical appointments related to the injury.
Loss of future earning capacity, if injuries leave the victim disabled and unable to return to work or to earn as much income as they did before the accident.
The cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle or other personal property that was damaged in the accident.
Non-economic damages are payments for the impacts that the injury has had on the injury victim’s life.
Common non-economic damages include compensation for:
Pain and suffering.
Loss of the enjoyment of life, if the injury prevents the injured person from participating in activities they previously enjoyed.
Loss of consortium, if the injury prevents the injured person from providing their spouse with physical intimacy and companionship.
Does my Solana Beach drunk driving accident case qualify for punitive damages?
Punitive damages are unrelated to the accident’s impact on the injured person’s life and finances. Instead, courts sometimes include these damages to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior. In some cases, courts have considered driving while intoxicated to be reckless enough behavior to justify punitive damages. Your attorney will advise you if punitive damages may be available in your case.
My loved one died in an accident with a Solana Beach drunk driver. Can I sue?
Yes, but the process is slightly different. Spouses, domestic partners, parents, and children of individuals killed in drunk driving accidents in California can seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Like cases brought by injured victims themselves, family members of the deceased must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the accident.
To establish liability in a wrongful death case, the family must show:
Their loved one died due to another person’s negligence or intent to harm (even if they didn’t necessarily intend to cause death).
Surviving family members are suffering financial injury as a result of the death.
A personal representative for the decedent’s estate was appointed to accept and distribute compensation to eligible survivors.
Some of the damages family members can recover through a wrongful death case include:
The costs of medical treatment for the deceased’s final injuries.
The cost of funeral services and burial or cremation.
Lost wages, including the amount the deceased would have likely earned through the course of their career had they lived.
Loss of support and services that the decedent provided to their survivors.
The loss of companionship, love, and affection for surviving family members.
Do I need an attorney for my Solana Beach drunk driving accident lawsuit?
Yes. An attorney provides not only knowledge of and experience with the legal process but can also provide services that an injured individual would have a difficult time obtaining on their own.
Some of these services include:
A free case evaluation that provides you with guidance about the legal process and the options that are available to you for obtaining compensation.
A contingency fee agreement means you will not have to pay for your lawyer’s services unless and until there is a successful outcome in your case.
Timely filing all court-ordered paperwork in the proper jurisdiction and attending all pre-trial conferences and hearings on your behalf.
A thorough review of your case to identify all potential sources of liability and all insurance resources that may compensate you.
A valuation of your case that is based on the expenses you have incurred, expenses you will likely incur in the future, and compensation for the profound impacts that your injuries have had on your life.
Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider and other relevant parties to obtain a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
Gathering and organizing evidence and witness testimony that can help prove your case.
Guidance about the pros and cons of accepting any settlement offer you receive.
If your attorney cannot reach a fair settlement with the other party, litigating your case including delivering opening and closing statements, examining witnesses, and presenting evidence.
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.
John Gomez, Solana Beach Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
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.
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.