Can I Be Sued for a Drunk Driving Crash in California?

You know that it’s illegal to drink and drive. But you may not know that it’s also illegal to drive under the influence of controlled substances, including lawfully-prescribed medications under California’s driving under the influence (DUI) statutes. You’re probably aware that a DUI arrest can lead to criminal charges and a DUI conviction, but what about a personal injury lawsuit? Can a drunk driver be sued in a civil lawsuit?

Whenever someone is injured in a car accident in California, the accident victim can sue the at-fault driver for damages. But what if the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash? What if the at-fault driver is already facing criminal prosecution?

When intoxicated drivers cause accidents, the innocent victims can sue the drunk drivers; therefore, DUI defendants who cause accidents can face criminal prosecutions andpersonal injury lawsuits at the same time.


Generally, when a plaintiff (injured party) hires a personal injury attorney to represent him or her in a drunk driving accident, the plaintiff’s injury lawyer will initiate a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver.

Often, injury attorneys in California seek economic and non-economic damages, but they’ll pursue punitive damages as well, which are meant to punish the drunk driver, make an example of their misconduct, and discourage other drivers from drinking and driving.

Examples of economic damages:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost income
  • Future medical bills

Examples of non-economic damages:

  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship

Sometimes, a drunk driving accident victim will participate in the at-fault driver’s criminal proceedings. For example, a victim may provide victim impact statements and participate in the defendant’s sentencing proceedings, and this can be worrisome for DUI defendants.

If you or someone you love is facing a criminal prosecution and a personal injury claim for a drunk driving accident, you need a strong defense. We urge you to contact our firm for a free case evaluationwith an Orange County DUI lawyer.

Related: What Details Can Impact a DUI Case?

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