Paul Pelosi Faces DUI Charges in California

by | Jun 7, 2022 | Car Accidents

The hits kept coming for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose husband was arrested for driving under the influence in Napa Valley. California.

According to California Highway Patrol troopers, Pelosi was eastbound on Walnut Avenue when he tried to cross Highway 29. Apparently, he didn’t see a northbound Jeep and collided with it. When tested, Pelosi’s BAC was above the legal limit. He was arrested on multiple counts and posted bail a short time later. A spokesperson for his wife said the Speaker couldn’t comment on the situation, as she was in Rhode Island at the time.

In the weeks prior to her husband’s arrest, Nancy Pelosi had a bout with COVID-19 and learned that she was ineligible for communion in San Francisco because of her pro-abortion beliefs.

First Party Liability

Drive-thru liquor is legal in the Bluegrass State. In fact, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail shows travelers how to make and drink bourbon along the way. So, it’s not surprising that Kentucky has one of the highest number for impaired or intoxicated motorists in the country. 

The two I-words have much different meanings. Impairment is basically a noticeable loss of function. Nearsighted people who don’t wear their glasses aren’t blind, at least not usually. But their vision is impaired. In terms of alcohol use, noticeable impairment begins with the first drink. Legal intoxication is like legal blindness. Legally blind people cannot see and legally intoxicated people cannot function. The loss of function affects judgment and motor skills.

If an intoxicated motorist causes a car crash, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate safety laws, and
  • Those violations substantially cause injuries.

This rule only applies if an emergency responder issues a citation. Mostly for liability reasons, police officers almost always issue DUI citations if possible. If a cop lets a drunk driver go and that drunk driver later causes a wreck, the police officer, or rather the city, county, or state that employed the officer, is on the hook for civil damages in the subsequent wreck.

In other situations, like illegal turns and speeding, officers often don’t issue citations, even if a driver was clearly in the wrong. These tickets establish blame in a civil proceeding, and most police officers don’t want to be caught up in civil proceedings.

The ordinary negligence doctrine is available if the tortfeasor was impaired. Evidence of impairment includes:

  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Unsteady balance,
  • Odor of alcohol,
  • Slurred speech, and
  • Erratic driving before the wreck.

In a DWI case, such evidence is almost useless. At best, it only establishes alcohol consumption. Civil court is different, because the standard is lower. If the tortfeasor had been drinking, the tortfeasor was impaired, at least for legal purposes in civil court.

Third Party Liability

Intoxicated and impaired motorists obtain the alcohol they drink from somewhere. Usually, that “somewhere” is a commercial provider, like a restaurant or a bar. In Kentucky and many other states, these commercial providers could be vicariously liable for car wreck damages.

Vicarious liability is especially important in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury claims. The hospital bills alone are usually much more than $55,000, which is the average figure for injury-related hospital stays in Kentucky. Future expenses, like ongoing medical bills in a catastrophic injury case and lost future and emotional support in a wrongful death case, could easily be many times that total.

Most tortfeasors don’t have enough insurance coverage to make good on these losses. Kentucky has one of the lowest auto insurance requirements in the nation.

Incidentally, many victims may file claims against their own insurance companies in these situations. Uninsured/uninsured motorists policies are partially designed for such situations. Additionally, UM/UIM coverage may apply if the victim is hurt in a hit-and-run and the responsible driver gets away.

Kentucky’s dram shop alcohol provider liability law applies if “a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances should know that the person served is already intoxicated at the time of serving.” The aforementioned circumstantial evidence, except for erratic driving, is admissible on this point.

Damages Available

We mentioned compensation in a car crash case above. Now, let’s look at available compensation in more detail.

Medical bills are usually the largest component of economic losses in a car crash claim. Property damage is usually a close second. Most new cars and trucks cost well over $20,000.

These losses are usually relatively easy for a Lexington personal injury attorney to calculate. Noneconomic losses are a different story. How can anyone put a price tag on things like loss of enjoyment in life and emotional distress?

To calculate a fair amount of noneconomic damages, most attorneys multiply economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case and a few other variables. Frequently, attorneys partner with accountants, psychologists, and other outside professionals when they make these calculations.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.