background hero

Why you shouldn’t drink and drive


Involved in a Car Accident With a Drunk Driver?

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our car accident attorneys have over 100 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury and drunk driving cases. We have won more than 5,000 cases, which has accumulated to over $1.5 billion recovered for our clients. Our hard work and efforts have gotten us recognized as one of the top personal injury law firms in California.

We work under a contingency-fee basis, meaning that if we do not win, you owe us nothing. To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (888) 679-1973 or filling out our online contact form.

How Dangerous Is It to Drink and Drive?

Drunk driving is deadly – plain and simple.

Alcohol has the ability to affect the way a person functions. If a person plans on drinking alcohol, they must not operate a vehicle as they are not in the right headspace to control such machinery. The level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will tamper with body functions that will make it difficult for a person to perform certain actions. Below, we have created a list of what effect each BAC has on a person’s body.

  • 0.02 percent will cause a minor loss of judgment, relaxation, and a slightly altered mood. Visual acuity will be reduced, as well. The ability to perform multiple tasks at once will be complicated.
  • 0.05 percent will result in loss of muscle control, impaired judgment, and lack of alertness. Coordination will be impacted, thus causing the person to have difficulty tracking moving objects, steering the wheel, and responding to emergency situations.
  • 0.08 percent will greatly impact a person’s balance, speech, vision, reaction times, and hearing. Short-term memory loss, inability to retain information, impaired perception, and lack of self-control will also be evident. 
  • 0.10 percent will substantially affect a person’s reaction time, speech, coordination, and thought process. 
  • 0.15 percent will result in loss of muscle control and balance following the urge to vomit. At this point, the person will likely start to experience nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, and lack of balance.

In California, it is illegal to drive if you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, you must not exceed a BAC of 0.04 percent. Drivers who are under the age of 21 must not operate a vehicle if they have a BAC of 0.01 percent.

If a person is driving at or above a BAC of 0.08 percent, they are not only putting their lives in danger, but the lives of others, as well. An intoxicated driver will have a difficult time focusing on the road while the effects of alcohol start to kick in. As their vision begins to blur and their thought process is turned into shambles, there is realistically no way for a person in this position to safely operate a vehicle.

How Often Do Drunk Driving Accidents Occur?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on average, 32 people are killed in a drunk driving accident every day in the United States. From 2011 to 2020, an estimate of 10,500 people died in a drunk driving accident per year. Just in 2020, it was reported that 11,654 fatal accidents were caused by drunk drivers. This is a 14 percent increase compared to 2019. 

Drunk drivers with a BAC of or above 0.08 percent account for 30 percent of fatal traffic accidents in the United States. In 2020, the age group with the most drunk drivers were 21 to 34 year olds. Men were the most common gender found to have driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

What Are the Consequences of DUI in California? 

In California, legal repercussions for a drunk driver may vary depending on the situation. 

Number of Offense


Jail Time


License Suspension


$390 to $1,000

48 hours to six months

Up to 5 years of informal probation. The driver must complete 3 months of DUI school, which is a total of 30 hours of classes. If the BAC was found to be of or above 0.20 percent, it would be 9 months and 60 hours of attending DUI school.

6 months if below a BAC of 0.08 percent. Above a BAC of 0.08 percent is a 4-month administrative suspension by the DMV.


$390 to $1,000 (followed with penalty assessments)

96 hours to one year

Up to 5 years of informal probation. The driver must also complete 18 or 30 months of DUI school. House arrest or other alternative programs may also be an option.

2-year license suspension with a 12-month administrative suspension if BAC was of or above 0.08 percent.


$390 to $1,000 (followed with penalty assessments)

120 days to one year

Up to five years of informal probation and 30 months of DUI school.

3-year license suspension with a 12-month administrative suspension if BAC was of or above 0.08 percent. 

What is the Punishment for Injury or Death Related to DUI?

If injuries or deaths are involved in a drunk driving accident, legal punishments will be held on a more severe level. 

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while intoxicated is defined by California Penal Code 191.5(a) as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 2f3153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”

If someone is killed by a drunk driver who has signed what’s known as a Watson Advisement, that person may be charged with murder.

California Vehicle Code 23593 says, “You are hereby advised that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If you continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and, as a result of that driving, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.

Injuries Caused by a Drunk Driving Accident

Injuries involved in a DUI accident will result in a felony for the drunk driver. The drunk driver may face 16 months to four years in prison. Fines may vary from $390 to $5,000.

Deaths Caused by a Drunk Driving Accident

If a person is killed by a drunk driver, they will be charged with murder or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Punishments may vary depending on the situation. If the drunk driver is charged with a misdemeanor for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, they will be sent to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. A second-degree murder charge is a felony, which may result in 15 years to life in prison.

Free Case Evaluation

I understand that by submitting this form, I consent to being contacted by West Coast Trial Lawyers regarding my case by way of call, email, or text. Information is not shared with third parties. Msg & data rates may apply.


510 Reviewers

They know what they're doing, very well. Not only did I not make a single phone call from the day I hired them, but I also received calls from their case managers and paralegals who want to make sure my treatment was going well. They whole team took care of me. Thank you WCTL for taking full responsibility of my case and getting me an amazing settlement.



293 Reviewers

I can say with confidence that this team is the best in the business. . . . Dean took the time to really listen and hear me out. He assured me that he was going to move mountains because he believed in me, and he ended up doing just that. I’ve never met a more focused and passionate attorney in my life. If you’re looking for a firm that treats its clients with the utmost respect and care, calling WCTL is a no-brainer. I wouldn't think twice about working with them again in the future.