When we think of drunk driving charges, we commonly think about the criminal implications that a driver may have to deal with. After all, driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above in the state of California is a misdemeanor. However, a drunk driving conviction could have civil implications as well if there is an accident that includes property or physical damage.
Essentially, a criminal charge (as well as a conviction) is important in car accident cases because it can be viewed as clear evidence that the person who caused the accident failed to use reasonable care while behind the wheel, and that such a failure was the proximate (i.e. direct) cause of the accident.
To prevail in a negligence case, the injured party must prove that the offending party failed to use reasonable care while they were driving. A criminal conviction is a powerful piece of evidence because of the higher burden of proof necessary in criminal matters. Since it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a person broke the law, it is more than likely that the civil standard of proof (a preponderance of the evidence) will be satisfied.
Because of this, the likelihood of success for an injured party in an accident caused by a drunk driver can be fairly high. With the holiday season in full swing, the chances of drunk driving accidents increase. Nevertheless, those who have been injured in a crash can benefit from the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.