Is a Drunk Driver Deemed Automatically at Fault for an Accident?

Contact the St. Louis drunk driving car accident lawyers at the Bruning Law Firm today.

Every day drivers get behind the wheel despite the fact they are under the influence of alcohol which creates a high risk situation for the driver as well as other drivers and pedestrians who they come in contact with. Drinking and driving is a prevalent problem in the United States because approximately 16,000 people die each year in a drunk driving related car accident.2 Drunk driving also creates a large financial burden as the annual cost of alcohol related crashes totals more than 59 billion dollars.3 The presence of alcohol in a person’s system effects the brain which in turn effects the control and skills of the driver as evident in reduced reaction time, vision problems, lower concentration, coordination issues, and difficulty with comprehension.1

How do Criminal Charges Play into Finding Fault in an Auto Accident?

Low levels of alcohol can impair a driver, but a person is not considered illegally impaired or over the legal limit until his or her Blood Alcohol Content is over 0.8. When a driver receives a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or a DWI (Driving While Impaired) it shows that they were driving a vehicle with alcohol in their system, but it does not necessarily equate to responsibility on the part of the drunk driver for the car accident.4 In order for an intoxicated driver to be found at fault for a car accident the determination must be reached by a court under a personal injury claim.5

How to Prove a Drunk Driver is at Fault for an Auto Accident

In order to have a successful personal injury claim involving a drunk driver there are four elements that must be proved. First, the claim must prove there was a duty. In a car accident case, all drivers as licensed by the state to take the wheel, are under a duty to drive in a safe manner in which they obey all traffic laws. Second, this duty must have been breached by failing to obey the traffic laws. Third, the injured party must prove causation. This requires proof that the failure to obey the traffic laws was the direct cause of the auto accident. Finally, the claim must be filed by a party who was injured. Though the injury is not limited to physical damages it can include property damages, emotional suffering, or punitive damages.

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Therefore, when an intoxicated driver is involved in an auto accident it does not automatically equate to the driver being deemed at fault for the accident. However, what it does mean is that the injured party was involved in a car accident whose circumstances should be discussed and evaluated by an experienced car accident attorney who can protect the rights and interests of the injured party by determining the appropriate actions to take against the drunk driver. To contact an auto accident attorney for a free consultation about the circumstances of your car accident please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.


  5. Ibid.