Are Drunk Drivers Ever Not Responsible for a Car Accident?

when are drunk drivers not at fault for a car accident

Despite lawmaker’s best efforts, drunk driving still occurs in Maryland. Thousands of driving under the influence accidents happen every year, and there were 122 deaths from DUI accidents in 2018. Many people assume that a drunk driver is always at fault for an accident, but that might not always be the case.

If you are facing DUI charges in Maryland, you should contact The Law Office of Hillel Traub. These are severe charges, and you will need an experienced defense attorney on your side to defend you in court.


When a DUI is involved in a car accident, courts cannot automatically assume the drunk driver is at fault. A jury or judge still must find them legally liable for property damage or injuries resulting from the accident. To do this, the other party’s attorney must establish these three components: 

  • Duty of care: This is the first step to proving fault. It establishes that one party owed a reasonable duty of care to prevent another from harm. Regarding automobiles, drivers must operate a vehicle with care at all times.
  • Breach of care: A person breaches their duty of care if they do not act in a way that a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. If a driver was reckless, they might have breached the duty of care.
  • Causation: An attorney establishes causation by showing a direct link between the breach with any property damage or injuries sustained.

Ultimately, every case is different. Even if you were under the influence, if you were involved in a car accident, you might still need to seek damages for your injuries, which is why you must understand all the elements that can contribute to a successful case.


There might be some instances where the other driver was primarily responsible for an accident, regardless of your BAC. Some examples of when the other driver may be liable include:

  • The other driver ran a red light or stop sign
  • Another driver was tailgating you, causing a rear-end collision
  • The vehicle was traveling at excessive speeds
  • The driver was operating on the wrong side of the road

However, in cases where the jury is having difficulty determining fault, the defendant being drunk at the time of the accident may assist the plaintiff. You will need a DUI defense attorney to strongly present that your drunkenness was not a major contributing factor to the accident for the other driver to be liable.


Maryland is one of four states that follows contributory negligence. Under this rule, a court may bar an injured party from receiving damages if they were partially responsible for the accident. For example, say you were driving under the influence, traveling through the intersection while the light was green; however, a driver ran their red light, hitting you. In this case, a court may find both of you partially liable for the accident, barring both parties from collecting compensation from the other.

However, just because a jury finds the other partially responsible for the accident and prohibits them from collecting damages, you may still face criminal charges. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in Maryland. If a court convicts you of a DUI, you might face hefty fines, jail time, or license suspension.


If you were drunk driving and in an accident that was not entirely your fault, contact Attorney Hillel Traub right away. These are complex situations, and your case will benefit from working with an experienced DUI defense attorney. Attorney Hillel Traub will launch a thorough investigation into your accident, prepare your case for trial, and aggressively represent you in court. To schedule a free consultation, call (410) 589-2794 or complete our online contact form.