Are You Automatically at Fault if You Get in an Accident While Driving Drunk?

accident while drunk driving - BMW front end crash

Are You Automatically at Fault if You Get in an Accident While Driving Drunk?

As a DUI and Extreme DUI lawyer in Chandler, AZ, Todd Coolidge specializes in handling drunk driving cases in Arizona. And while we strongly caution against driving after consuming any amount of alcohol, it’s important to know the laws and what your rights are, should you be involved in an accident while under the influence. 

What are the Arizona DUI laws? 

In Arizona, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher within 2 hours of driving. In addition, you will be charged with Extreme DUI if your BAC is between .15% and .199%, and a Super Extreme DUI if your BAC is .20% or above. DUI penalties vary depending on your blood alcohol level and whether it was a first offense or a repeat offense. 

What are the penalties if you are driving drunk and cause an accident? 

If your BAC is over .08% and you’re pulled over, you will get an automatic DUI, which carries with it a misdemeanor charge. However, if you are driving under the influence and as a result cause an accident, you will be charged with an aggravated DUI, which carries a much heavier penalty of a class 4 felony. 

Although drunk driving is considered negligent driving, your car insurance will still cover any damages up to the liability limits of your policy. Your insurance premiums, however, will consequently go through the roof. 

What if I was driving drunk and someone else caused the accident? 

In any car accident, determining who is at fault is pivotal in deciding whose insurance will have to cover any damage or injury costs that result from the accident. Even if you believe that a collision you were involved in while driving drunk was not your fault, intoxication generally increases the likelihood that you will be found at fault. And when it comes to a drunk driving accident, a lawsuit might also be in question. That’s why it’s extremely important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to fight DUI accident cases

When establishing fault in from a legal perspective, driving drunk does not make a person automatically liable. A plaintiff must not only prove the defendant was careless in their behavior, but also that the carelessness is what caused the accident. For example, if a drunk driver is in a head-on collision with another car because they went down a one-way street in the wrong direction—well, that one is pretty obviously the fault of the drunk driver, However, if a sober driver rear-ends a drunk driver, there is a high likelihood that the intoxicated driver would not be found liable. 

Schedule your free consultation today! 

If you are faced with DUI charges in Arizona, Coolidge Law is ready to talk. We’re experienced, we’re knowledgeable, and we care. Give us a call today and schedule your free consultation: 480-264-5111


Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay (6/22/2019)