Am I liable for an accident just because I consumed alcohol? 8 Answers as of November 05, 2010

After having only one drink, I got into an accident. The other car rear-ended me. Even though the accident is not my fault and I think my BAC was below the legal limit, could I be liable for the accident?

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Law Offices of Phil Hache
Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
Did the fact that you had a drink come into question? Did the police arrive? Did you get charged with a DUI? All these things may come into play if the answer to the above is yes. Usually the car that hits the rear end of another car has 100% liability, but there are exceptions depending on the circumstances. Does not mean that you will be liable, but the other party may try to use it to shift liability...or a portion of it to you. Just because he tries to do this, does not mean he will be successful in doing so. Call me to discuss in further detail so I can better assist you, free consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/5/2010
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
The person who was at fault will be legally liable. However, if there is any indication that you were contributorily negligent (i.e. braking for no reason or driving erratically) you may be legally required to share the blame.

Our office is very experienced in handling these matters. For more information or to be represented, please call
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/5/2010
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
Liability means who caused it? Unless you negligently drove in a way to cause the collision, no. However, you would still be subject to charges of DUI if you were impaired by alcohol. One normal size drink would not generally do that.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/4/2010
Law Office of Joe Dane
Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
In any traffic collision, the question will be: Who caused the accident and what, if any, did the other driver do to contribute to the accident.

In a criminal sense, you can still be prosecuted for DUI if your blood alcohol was above 0.08 percent or they think you were impaired - even if you didn't cause the accident.

In a civil sense, if the alcohol in NO way contributed to the collision, then the other driver would be 100% at fault. If your intoxication - to whatever level - was a factor, then it will be for the insurance companies and lawyers to argue over how much you were at fault and reduce the other driver's liability by that amount.

For example, if you were under the influence, but stopped lawfully behind the line at a red light and another driver rear-ended you, it would appear that your intoxication had nothing to do with the accident. It would have been the same, sober or not. If however, you stopped suddenly because the alcohol made you too slow to realize the light was red, then it may have contributed to the accident.

The specific details matter.

If this is not a hypothetical question and is based on a real world situation, keep in mind that if the police confiscated your license and issued a temporary one (the pink paper), then you only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to contest the suspension of your license.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/4/2010
Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
If you were rear ended AND you didn't have excessive alcohol consumption (.08). NO.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/3/2010
    Steven Mandell
    Steven Mandell | Law Offices of Steven Mandell
    This is a difficult question to answer yes or no without more information. If you were stopped and rear-ended, you're probably not at fault. If you were moving forward, you are probably not at fault. Believe it or not, some people would claim that you were negligently backing up and caused what appeared to be a "rear ender." Chances are it was not your fault, but without more facts, it's impossible to say. If you want to talk to me about this further, feel free to call (no charge).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2010
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    If you are charged and convicted of a DUI you could be. However if you were not charged with a DUI the chances are that you will not be liable for the accident. A lot will depend upon your statements and BAC.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2010
    Wise Law Group
    Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
    It is doubtful based on the factual scenario you have described, but you would be well served to have an attorney review the report. Your insurance company should appoint one to represent you in the civil arena, however you may need criminal defense counsel as well.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2010
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