Arizona’s traffic laws require a finding of fault. It is, therefore, a fault state as opposed to a no-fault state. At an intersection, there can be some question as to left-turn liability. And that can be further complicated when one of the drivers has been drinking. Police and/or independent investigators collect and evaluate any available evidence from the scene of the accident in order to determine who was at fault and to what degree each party shared fault.
Over the course of time since court cases have enacted Arizona’s fault liability laws, they have developed some shortcuts. These shortcuts create a presumption of liability that police officers, investigators, and courts can use to help in the determination of fault. One such presumption is the left-hand turn law. This states that the driver of a vehicle that is turning left across an intersection must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic if said traffic may represent a hazard to turning left.
Presumption is not absolute, however, and merely serves as a starting point for assigning the appropriate level of fault to parties involved in an accident. As its legal definition explains, a presumption is an inference as to the existence of one fact from proof of the existence of other facts. In other words, if after a car accident between two cars it is found that one car was making a left-hand turn across an intersection when the accident occurred, then the initial presumption will be that this car was primarily at fault for the accident. This presumption may be challenged by other evidence such as testimony or physical evidence showing that the other car was actually liable for the accident.
Driving Under the Influence and Presumptions
As one Chandler teacher discovered the hard way, these presumptions are not absolute immunity to drivers who should have the right of way. While the driver of the car in this particular case hit the vehicle while making a left-hand turn, the police investigation found that the defendant’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the collision was 0.283%, well over the legal limit and sufficient for a DUI charge. The police investigation also stated that the evidence at the scene showed that the defendant was traveling in excess of 75 miles per hour and ran through a red light when the collision occurred. While the case is still pending, these facts may be sufficient to override the statutory presumption of fault and left-turn liability for the accident.
Determining who is at fault for an accident, and therefore is liable for the injuries and damages to other parties, can sometimes be a difficult task. Lawmakers try to craft statutes so as to make the fact-finder’s job easier for accidents that occur fairly regularly. In the case of a statutory presumption, Arizona lawmakers have decided that driving while intoxicated is far more dangerous—and more likely to end in an accident—than making a left-hand turn across an intersection. Finders of fact will use blood alcohol readings as evidence when determining who is liable for a car accident.
Of course, in the aftermath of a DUI accident, an attorney can be a valuable asset to help you recover adequate compensation. Reach out to us today at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC for a consultation on your case.