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Understanding What May Happen After An Accident If You Were Drinking

A car accident is sometimes just an accident where neither driver is to blame for the incident. In this case, you can typically work with your insurance company to settle damages. However, if an accident occurs after you have had an alcoholic drink or two, then the incident may turn into a much more serious situation. Keep reading to learn about some information about drinking and auto accidents so you understand the types of things that will occur after the accident.

You May Be Asked To Take A Breathalyzer

If you are involved in a serious accident, then you may need to take a breathalyzer test after the accident occurs. This typically depends on the state that you live in, and all drivers who are alive after the incident occurred will have their BAC tested in Arizona, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The testing will be mandatory. If you are unable to provide a breathalyzer test, then your blood will typically be taken at the hospital and tested.

If you do not live in a mandatory testing state or if the accident was not considered severe, then BAC testing may be discretionary and not mandatory. This means that it is up to the police officer if BAC is tested. If you are asked to take a breathalyzer and you have been drinking, then you may decide to refuse the test. While this is your right, you may be severely punished for not taking the test. Automatic license suspension is typical if you do not take the test, and the suspension will usually be similar to what you see if you are convicted of a DUI. This may mean that your license will be taken away for a year or longer. In some cases, you may need to pay a fine as well or take an alcohol education course.

You May Be At Fault For The Accident

If you do decide to take a breathalyzer after an accident, then you may be considered at fault for the incident. If you were not fully intoxicated during the accident, you still may be considered liable due to your own negligence. Specifically, you have a duty of care to drive a car in a safe manner. If you ingest alcohol and drive, then the simple act of getting behind the wheel is considered negligent. You should have known that the act of driving may cause someone else harm. Both drinking and driving are willful acts, and this alone may indicate a breach of care

You should know that a breathalyzer does not provide indisputable proof that you were drinking before the accident. However, other types of evidence can be used to prove that you were drinking, so the refusal of a breathalyzer will not automatically protect you from being at fault for the accident. For example, the police officer on the scene will indicate if you were slurring your speech, if you smelled of alcohol, or if you admitted to drinking. 

While the act of drinking can place you at fault for the accident, you may not be entirely on the hook for all damages and injuries relating to the incident. In some states, you will only have to pay for damages based on how much you were considered at fault for the accident. This is called comparative fault. For example, if the other driver ran through a red light and you hit the side of the car as it passed through an intersection, then you may not be entirely at fault for the accident. While your alcohol consumption may have slowed your reaction time, the accident never would have occurred if the driver did not drive through the light. This means that you may be 60% at fault for the accident if you were intoxicated, and you would only need to pay 60% of the damages to the other driver. 

Contact a car accident lawyer from a firm like Master Weinstein Moyer PC for more information.