5 Ways a Car Accident Can Be
Caused by an Impaired Driver

5 Ways a Car Accident Can Be Caused by an Impaired Driver

More than 90% of California’s vehicle collisions are due to human error. While it might be a driving error like drifting in the lane, failing to yield the right of way, or speeding, another big contributor is driver impairment.

Here are the 5 main types of driver impairment that the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers commonly sees in car accidents.

1. Drunk Driving

About 28% of all traffic deaths are due to drunk driving. In fact, of all road deaths that involve children, 17% involved a driver who was impaired by alcohol.

Alcohol inhibits reaction time and prevents the kind of clear thinking it takes to control a vehicle. In California, it’s illegal for anyone over age 21 to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher and it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to have a BAC of .01% or higher.

But even before someone reaches that point, they may have poor balance, slow thinking, and erratic movements. You can make a personal injury claim against someone for impaired driving even if they were not above the legal limit for driving.

For example, you may be able to show that they’d been drinking at a wedding just before crashing into you and injuring you. Your lawyer can help you gather the evidence needed to prove these types of claims.

2. Drugged Driving

Although marijuana was legalized in California in 2017, this doesn’t mean it’s legal to take drugs and drive. California has strict laws about drug-impaired driving and in many jurisdictions, police officers deal with more drugged drivers than drunk drivers.

Drugged driving involves a wide variety of substances, both legal and illegal. A drugged driver may be under the influence of illegal street drugs like heroin or cocaine, legal marijuana, prescription pills like Xanax or Oxycontin, or an over-the-counter (OTC) drug like NyQuil.

In one San Francisco incident that helped shape California’s drugged driving laws, a 16-year-old driver faced legal consequences when she was pulled over for driving under the influence of cough syrup that was 26% alcohol. The District Court of Appeals noted that a minor “can maim or kill if they drank cough syrup.”

These cases are usually handled as ordinary negligence cases. With the help of your lawyer, you may be able to show that the driver had an open bottle of cough syrup in the cup holder or had recently filled a prescription for a sedative at a local pharmacy.

3. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a huge issue that has only grown worse since the invention of smartphones. Whenever a driver takes their hands, eyes, and/or attention off the road, they’re distracted.

To prove that a driver was distracted and negligent in driving carefully, you and your lawyer can look for evidence of distraction just before the crash. For example, maybe the person was texting someone in the moments before impact, or perhaps they were changing the address in their vehicle navigation system and assumed that their car’s safety features would kick in.

4. Drowsy Driving

Fatigue can cause someone to become less aware of their surroundings and less able to react quickly to stimuli. Worse yet, the drowsy person might fall asleep and drive directly into nearby motorists.

Truck drivers are especially prone to road fatigue because they work long hours and drive long distances. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 10% to 20% of truck crashes involve driver fatigue.

5. Medical Conditions

In rare cases, a medical condition contributes to a severe car accident. Seizure disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, poor eyesight, and mobility issues are some of the top contributors to these accidents.

However, a medical condition doesn’t prevent a claim and doesn’t automatically excuse someone from being found negligent in a car accident case. For example, your lawyer may be able to dig up records that show a health professional warned the person their health condition could cause driving impairment.


Molly S.

"I found Sally and her office after a long and demoralizing search for legal help, and am so glad that I did. She and her team were calm, helpful, thorough, optimistic (which is important when staring down the barrel of a confusing legal process!) and made sure that I was aware what was happening during each step. From the start, she was clearly more interested in helping me resolve my situation than in maximizing her profit. I have already recommended her to several friends, and would highly recommend her to anyone!"

Experience a serious car accident with injuries in California?

Check out our Car Accident Page to learn more about how the process works.

As you can see, impaired driving cases benefit enormously from having the assistance of an experienced California car accident lawyer. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’re here to help you if you ever face a severe injury due to someone else’s impaired driving.

We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After a serious traffic accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of personal injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

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