[Content Updated 04/14/2021] One of the tragic causes of motorcycle accidents that were wholly avoidable is those involving alcohol and drugs. We read and hear about impaired drivers with impaired judgment and slower reaction times in a passenger car, truck, or even a motorcycle, weaving from side to side and swerving. Sometimes we see them crash as we travel the roads with our families. Later, if they survive, we see the perpetrators of these criminal acts standing outside of the AA meetings that they must now attend to avoid jail or prison sentences.
Yes, it isn’t very comfortable to get caught and stigmatized publicly as an impaired rider or car operator. But the elevated risk of impaired driving remains deadly to those struck by an out-of-control drunkard. And the plain truth is, every single DUI accident did not have to happen. And most would not happen if people were responsible.
But that would require them to uphold their social contract to act reasonably. Being doped up and driving is not reasonable. And that is why Ehline Law Firm assists bikers run over by alcohol or drug-impaired drivers. Or particular interest, this firm has assisted thousands of automotive-related injury victims. We have won substantial verdicts and settlements.
In any event, we say: “Just don’t drink and drive.” Also, when people get hurt on motorcycles from a DUI incident, the results are usually grave. Most of the time, these remain tragic and often fatal to riders. So we offer help to riders in the form of legal assistance.
California Vehicle Code Sec 23152 states: (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle. (Read more.)
There is some confusion as to what a vehicle is or isn’t. The California Vehicle Code classifies even a bicycle as a vehicle for purposes of DUI:
California Vehicle Code Sec 670 states: A “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway. , excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. (Read more).
So basically, a pedal-pushed bicycle, a Vespa, motor scooter, all the way to a commercial truck, bus, or other powered conveyance may be deemed by law enforcement to be a motorized vehicle, subject to criminal prosecution for DWI.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (“OTS”), the most cutting edge statistics indicate that alcohol-related roadway killings went down from 0.31% in 2008 to 0.28% in 2009. But the DUI death rate in the Golden State is lower than the national average of 0.36%.
In any event, California ranks high in overall traffic fatality rates. California has one of the highest death rates for roadway incidents. As a percent of total deaths, these lowered from 30% in 2009 to 29% in 2010. And it has only fluctuated slightly up until now.
As far as fatalities go, California has a smaller percentage of deaths from traffic mishaps. Based on the national average of 31%, we must remember certain areas like Greater Los Angeles at excessive risk for a DUI. In any case, DWI causes loss of life in many of the issues where it rears its ugly head.
Riders do not have the luxury of a metal enclosure with seatbelts (no roll cage). Plus, they don’t have an airbag. So motorcyclists who are struck or cut off by someone else tend to get thrown off the bike. Invariably, when a car or other automobile goes up against a motorcycle, the biker always comes out on the losing end. And they often lose big or even die.
Sadly, even if the biker lives after getting thrown into the pavement at high or even low speed means the rider will never be the same again mentally or physically. Also, they tend to get tossed around like rag dolls. Thrown riders also regularly get chewed up by the asphalt. But these are just some of the impact injuries motorcyclist riders tend to suffer.
As discussed on our site’s other pages related to accident causation, motorcyclists already have a significant problem. Many many motorists ignore bikers. Most of the time, they are not aware of riders on the road. As discussed, a ubiquitous example is the left-hand turn accident. On many occasions, the other driver is guilty of failure to yield to the motorcyclist.
Left-hand turn accidents, lane swerving, hard braking, rear-enders, and other causes increase when drunks are on the road. Intoxicated drivers traversing the streets exhibit decreased visibility, lack of environmental awareness, and reduced reaction times. All this makes the probability of a wreck much more incredible when someone is driving drunk.
It is essential to recognize that when a cyclist is riding down the highway, it is hard to spot. Also, at dawn and dusk, they are even harder to see. And this is when many people drink or are returning from drinking.
No matter how a rider is put out of commission, the drunk driving defendant must reimburse hospital bills. Also, they are on the hook for lost wages and pain and suffering. Furthermore, sometimes they may have to pay punitive damages.
Like most motorcycle accident claims, DUI and DWI cases that injure riders are usually quite severe and often involve death, which may be charged as vehicular homicide.
Here are some common injuries that motorcyclists face in a DUI crash:
In any event, courts and juries look at serious injury motorcycle lawsuits on a case-by-case basis. So each claim is unique, just like you are. To us, you are not only some manilla file; you are our friend. Michael P. Ehline, of Ehline Law Firm, is the “Rider’s Friend.” But it wouldn’t hurt to talk to one of our motorcycle DWI attorneys. Our proven track record and over 100 million dollars in verdicts and settlements are not the only reason to hire us. We are run by a USMC veteran who also rides motorcycles. Do or die; we make it happen for our clients.
As discussed above, the Vehicle Code and Penal Code regulations hold cyclists to the same rights, duties, and obligations as any other auto. A mere arrest for the operation of a motorcycle while DWI or DUI involves two separate agencies. The criminal prosecutor decides if evidence merits locking you up.
But they may place you on probation. And this is separate from what a judge in a criminal court says. One is administrative under Penal Code Section 9. The other is a criminal case.
Typically an arrested rider has ten days, including holidays, weekends, etc., from the arrest date to request an administrative hearing with the DMV. If he fails to do so, he faces a permanent suspension of his driving license. If a rider does not correctly request attending the hearing, there is the risk of an automatic suspension.
That’s right; driving is a privilege. The standard court-mandated rules of evidence do not apply during a California administrative DMV hearing. The 5th Amendment does not even apply. So it is easy to see how a sharp prosecutor could use admissions or confessions made by a defendant in the pending criminal case.
All the DMV hearing officer needs to verify that the arresting agency had a reasonable belief that the rider was intoxicated or under the influence (a crime). Next, they must believe you committed the offense. The last thing they have to find is that the arrestee had 0.08 percent by volume, or higher, of alcohol content in their bloodstream. (See CVC Section 23152.)
Most unrepresented parties are found to be in violation. So they lose their license to operate a motorized vehicle (but often, they can get a temporary to and from work license). But a represented party fares much better. Also, the attorney can stand in their stead. This way, no privileges need to be waived before the DMV handing down the suspension or other action.
Motorcyclists face the same criminal DUI sentencing and punishments as any other traditional vehicle operator faces. But we learned earlier that many motorists (potential jurors), police, and even first responders have a bias and animus against riders.
Because of this, many riders may feel the weight of the cards stacked against them after a crash. And all the while, they may await a criminal tribulation. First offenses with no injury to a person or property usually involve a three (3) year probation. Penalties will probably include some AA meetings, heavy fines, and MADD classes. Other times poor riders can attend Cal-trans roadside trash pick up in exchange for paying fines.
But first offenses involving severe injury, death, or property damage remain harsh on defendants. In any case, if you want to break the public laws, don’t expect to win. Remember the famous song: “I fought the law, and the law won.” Don’t think you’re an exception!
Safe ingress and egress on the highways and roadways of California is the responsibility of all vehicle operators. Drinking and driving subjects the general population and public to an unfair, un-bargained, dangerous position. Placing life at risk and becoming a name taker is not what any self-respecting rider would ever want to happen.
Once you get through your criminal case, win or lose, you still will have to deal with your civil case. Most of all, riders and drivers causing injury or death stay on the hook. If they don’t have enough insurance or have no insurance, they could lose it all with garnished wages and criminal court restitution orders. Even if the victim is awarded criminal restitution and the evildoer pleads guilty to a lesser included offense, the civil claim remains available to the victim or their family.
At-fault drivers must pay non-economic compensation for pain, suffering, and lost wages. Also included in the award are economic damages for past, present, and future medical bills and long-term care for permanent personal injuries. The same would apply if the shoe were on the other foot.
There are many ways to avoid a wreck with a drunk person. First, learn to identify Potential Intoxicated Vehicle Operators (essential). Behavior and patterns to watch for are things like drivers swerving or veering back and forth. Or it could be people driving over the dividing lines, attempting to negotiate abnormally wide turns, or vehicles drifting into other lanes.
Some other faulty actions taken by drunks on the road include striking curbs, near misses, or sudden braking. Other problems involve driving too slow for the conditions or too fast for the weather or road conditions. And this includes ghost riding (wrong way drivers) and impaired responses. Also, these include clear and present dangers and erratic stop-and-go patterns.
As with most car accidents, motorcycle-related DUI/DWI cases often require a detailed case analysis and investigations by your motorcycle lawyer and the insurance companies. It could be that your lawyer needs to negotiate with your carrier to pick up damages for any uninsured amounts. In other words, the other driver may have only carried a minimum of 15/30/5 liability coverages, and you could have injuries that exceed this amount.
But since you will be armed with your teams of firm lawyers, we can battler the other person’s army of claims adjusters and defense attorneys. So rather than go it alone, and deal with professional taskmasters at an insurance company with an unfair advantage, now you will have our strength by your side. The key is never to let the injured party settle for less, despite the fact the insurer will attempt to pay as little money as humanly possible.
Ehline Law will level the playing field with our superior experience, knowledge, skill, and financial resources. Rest assured, if the insurance company makes an unfair, lowball offer or fails to negotiate in good faith, we will turn up the heat. One option is to make a claim with the California Department of Insurance for unfair claim adjustment practices. Another option may be suing after we weigh the possibilities as a team. But no matter what, whether it’s suing and massive litigation or pre-lawsuit negotiations, our lawyers make best efforts to get you windfall-like results in the final payout on your injury claim that rose from your motorcycle accident.
If arrested for a DUI, you still have a potential lawsuit for unrelated bodily injuries. Don’t throw up your hands and give up all hope. Rest assured that the aggressive motorcycle DUI accident lawyers at Ehline Law will take swift action. Most of all, don’t delay because there is a two-year statute of limitations in most California personal injury cases unless a narrow exception applies.
But when you hire us, we fight hard to preserve the statute and your other legal rights. And this includes attending your own DMV hearing. So while you await your criminal trial and lick your wounds, we work on a no recovery no fee (contingency fee) basis. So you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by contacting us for a free phone consult. Call now at (213) 596-9642.
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