Motorcycle DUI Accidents
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 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 your 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.
- What is a DUI Driver?
- Grave Dangers to Riders
- What do I do if in a DUI Accident?
- Motorcycle Drunk Drivers
- What is a DMV Hearing?
- Criminal Penalties
- Civil Lawsuits
- Avoiding a DUI Collision
- Tips for Drinkers
- Getting a Lawyer
Yes, it is embarrassing to get caught and stigmatized publicly as an impaired rider or car operator. But it is also deadly to many who were 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 large 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 the year 2009 to 29% in 2010. And it has only fluctuated slightly up until now.
California and DUI Deaths.
As far as fatalities go, California has a smaller percentage of deaths from traffic mishaps. But based upon the national average of 31%, we must remember, there are certain areas like Greater Los Angeles at excessive risk for a DUI. In any case, DWI causes loss of life in many of the cases where it rears its ugly head.
No Roll Cage
Riders do not have the luxury of a metal enclosure with seat-belts (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 a rag doll. Thrown riders also regularly get chewed up by the asphalt. But these are just some of the impact injuries motorcyclists riders tend to suffer.
What To Do If You are Hurt By A DUI Driver?
As discussed on the other pages of our site 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 very common 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, and rear-enders 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.
Of utmost importance to recognize is that when a cyclist is riding down the highway 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 who was negligent 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.
Michael Ehline "The Motorcycle Rider's Friend."
In any event, courts and juries look at 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.
What About When a Rider is Under the Influence?
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, which includes 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.
Rules of Evidence Don't Apply and a DMV Hearing?
That's right; driving is a privilege. The standard court-mandated rules of evidence do not apply during a California administrative DMV hearing. In fact, 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 do is 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 prior to the DMV handing down the suspension or other action.
Criminal Punishment for a Motorcycle DUI.
Motorcyclists face the exact 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 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 at large 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, you still will have to deal with your civil case. Riders causing death stay on the hook. And if he or she doesn't have enough insurance, or has no insurance, they could lose it all.
As a matter of fact, they must pay compensation for pain, suffering, and lost wages. Also included in the award are medical bills and care. The same would apply if the shoe was on the other foot.
There are many ways to avoid a wreck with a drunk person. First, learn to identify Potential Intoxicated Vehicle Operators (important). 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, or near misses, or sudden braking. Other problems include driving too slow for the conditions, or too fast for the 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.
Tips for Those Who Ride and Drink Boos.
- Don't Drink at All.
- Have a Designated Sober Driver.
- Rent a Limo.
- Take a Taxi.
- Charter a Bus.
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. So we fight hard to preserve your legal rights. And this includes attending your own DMV hearing. So while you await your criminal trial, and lick your wounds, call us for a no win no fee case consultation. Call now at (888) 400-9721.