Drunk Driving Accidents in San Francisco

Do I Have a Case?

Of all the different causes of car accidents in San Francisco, drunk driving is among the most serious. Statistics bore this out, with data from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) showing that there were 4,823 alcohol-related accidents that caused fatalities or injuries throughout California in 2021. Of these accidents, 38 occurred within the city limits of San Francisco.

Aside from their obvious dangers, drunk driving accidents are particularly exasperating for victims and authorities because they are entirely preventable. However, year after year, drunk driving accidents continue to happen in San Francisco. This is despite the city taking measures to both increase public awareness of and enforce stronger punishments for the issue.

Dedicated Support From Experienced San Francisco Car Accident Lawyers

The consequences of a drunk driving accident can be devastating and life-altering. Most likely, you’re facing medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma. While you may feel helpless in these situations, it’s important to understand that you have certain legal rights and options.  Working with our team of experienced and dedicated San Francisco car accident lawyers can help you navigate this challenging time.

At The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan, we can make sure you get the support and guidance you deserve. Don’t wait – contact us today to protect your rights and secure the justice you deserve.

How Does San Francisco Approach Drunk Driving Accidents?

Drunk driving in San Francisco, as in the rest of California, is defined as:

  • Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the point where physical or mental abilities are impaired.

This means that drivers are unable to operate their vehicles with the caution of a sober person, which puts themselves and others at risk of injury or death.

In California, it’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of:

  • 08% or higher

However, even if a person’s BAC is lower than 0.08%, they can still be charged with DUI if they are deemed to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.

As a city,  San Francisco takes drunk driving very seriously. Drivers who are caught driving under the influence can face severe penalties. These penalties can include:

  • Fines
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Jail time, depending on the severity of the offense and the driver’s prior record

Additionally, if a drunk driver causes an accident that results in injury or death, they can face even more severe penalties, including felony charges and prison time. Despite these measures, drunk driving continues to be an issue in San Francisco. What this means for you and other road users is that you need to be prepared to deal with the possibility of these accidents.

Types of Drunk Driving Accidents in San Francisco

As the definition of drunk driving states, a driver’s physical and mental abilities are impaired to the point that they aren’t able to drive the vehicle safely. This, in turn, leads to several different types of accidents, all of which can cause serious injuries to you or other road users. Some of the most common types of drunk driving accidents in San Francisco include:

  • Rear-end accidents – When a drunk driver is following too closely or not paying attention, they may crash into the back of another vehicle.
  • Head-on accidents – Frequently, drunk drivers aren’t able to see clearly because of blurred vision. This may lead them to cross the centerline or drive the wrong way on a one-way street, causing a head-on collision with another vehicle.
  • T-bone accidents – Drunk drivers may run stop signs or red lights and collide with vehicles that have the right of way, resulting in serious T-bone or side-impact collisions.
  • Pedestrian or bicycle accidents – It’s not just other drivers that need to watch out for drunk drivers. Pedestrians and bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to drunk driving accidents because drunk drivers may fail to see them while driving, resulting in severe injuries or fatalities.
  • Rollover accidents – Because they usually can’t judge the speed they’re driving at, drunk drivers frequently lose control of their vehicles and try to overcorrect. This often leads to rollover accidents that can be particularly dangerous for passengers.

Regardless of the type of drunk driving accident, these incidents can result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Victims of drunk driving accidents may suffer from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, or other types of harm. When you’ve been injured in one of these accidents, it’s important to first understand how liability works, and then what you need to do from there.

Liability in San Francisco Drunk Driving Accidents

Obviously, when a person is driving drunk and causes an accident, they are responsible for any injuries and damages they cause. Like any other accident in California, the legal concept of negligence ultimately determines liability.

In general, every driver has a duty to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle. When a driver chooses to drive under the influence of alcohol, they breach this duty of care and may be held liable for any damages or injuries that result.

However, liability in drunk driving accidents can also extend beyond the driver. In some cases, other parties may share responsibility for the accident, including:

  • Social hosts who serve alcohol to underage or visibly intoxicated individuals.
  • Employers that allow their employees to drive while drunk.
  • Bars or restaurants that continue to serve alcohol to patrons who are visibly intoxicated.

In these cases, the negligent party may share responsibility for any damages or injuries that result from the drunk driving accident. If this has happened to you or a loved one, our team of experienced San Francisco car accident lawyers can help you pursue your legal options.

What Legal Options Do San Francisco Drunk Driving Accident Victims Have?

Figuring out who is liable for your injuries and damages in a San Francisco drunk driving accident is only one part of the equation. The other is actually taking steps to hold them accountable, which usually includes filing a claim for damages. This can be done either by filing an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier or filing a lawsuit.

While every case is unique, the legal options for San Francisco drunk driving accident victims typically include the following:

  • Filing an insurance claim – As a victim of a drunk driving accident, you can file a claim with any insurance company that covers the people at fault for the accident. In the vast majority of cases, this will be with the drunk driver’s insurance company, but it can extend to places like bars or restaurants in the event that the drunk driver was served there prior to the accident. The goal of an insurance claim is to seek compensation for your damages, which includes medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
  • Filing a lawsuit – In some cases, you may choose to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages. This may be an option if insurance coverage is insufficient or if you suffered particularly severe injuries or damages. The lawsuit process requires a lawyer to file a Complaint in civil court, then proceed to exchange evidence and ultimately present your case to a judge and jury. Our team has a wealth of experience with the process and can make sure your case is as strong as possible.


With these options, it’s possible for you to recover at least some compensation for what the drunk driving accident took away from you. Whether it be your health or peace of mind, our team can make sure you have a full understanding of your options and how to best approach your particular case.

Don’t Wait To Contact MJQ Law After a San Francisco Drunk Driving Accident

It’s no stretch to say that drunk driving accidents are among the most dangerous that you will likely encounter. Despite concerted efforts from city authorities, drunk driving continues to plague San Francisco, leading to accidents and serious injuries year after year. If you or a loved one have been a victim of a drunk driving accident, don’t wait to get the help and support you deserve. Reach out to our team at The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan for a free consultation to get started on the road to recovery.