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Who’s at fault if both drivers have alcohol in their systems?

One of the hardest things for police officers to do when responding to a car crash is to determine who was at fault. What they write in their report can have long-term implications for the people involved in the crash.

An allocation of fault could mean that one party has a lot of expenses to cover and higher insurance premiums. It also means that the other party has the right to pursue compensation from the one at fault. Illegal activity, like drinking before driving, can influence the amount of fault someone has for a collision.

Officers may even assign more fault than is appropriate to a driver because they had alcohol in their bloodstream. What happens when both drivers involved in a crash have some amount of alcohol in their systems?

Was one significantly more impaired than the other?

If both drivers are legally drunk, the police may arrest them both. If one person got behind the wheel after having a single beer but the other downed a six-pack, the person with the higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could wind up blamed for the crash. Alcohol testing when officers arrive and additional chemical testing to check for drugs may make it clear that one driver was far more dangerous.

What if both drivers are under the legal limit?

If both drivers have alcohol in their system but neither was technically in violation of drunk driving laws, the officers might assign blame to both. In that situation, Colorado’s comparative negligence law would take effect.

If you have a share of the responsibility for a crash, any compensation you receive may reflect your portion of fault. However, you can still ask for and receive both insurance coverage and possibly compensation through a civil lawsuit. You don’t have to be perfect to hold a drunk driver accountable for causing a crash.


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Litigation is a journey. This is a journey we have taken with our clients a countless number of times. If you face the uncertainty, risk, fear, anger, or disbelief that comes with the prospect of going through a legal dispute, the law firm of Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. will help you through it.