With a population of nearly 40 million, car accidents are a fairly common occurrence in the Golden State. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2018 (the most recent year with available data), over 3500 Californians were killed in car accidents. While that might seem like a lot, it actually ranks California under the national average in terms of number of deaths per 100,000.
As we all know, however, not every accident results in a fatality. The question then is what happens when you are in an accident where no one is killed or even seriously injured? Can your license be suspended?
The short answer is no. Under normal circumstances, your license will not be suspended if you are in a car accident. However, there are a few exceptions that could lead to your license being suspended.
Driving Without Valid Car Insurance
It is the law in California that every driver has valid car insurance. The requirements for a valid insurance policy include:
- Bodily injury coverage of at least $15,000 per person
- Bodily injury coverage of at least $30,000 per accident
- Property damage coverage of $5000 per accident
If you are in an accident and you don’t have car insurance or your policy does not meet these requirements, your license can be suspended for up to four years. However, you can petition to have your license returned after one year if you can prove that you have valid insurance and keep it up for the remainder of the four years and beyond.
Driving While Under the Influence
Another scenario in which you could lose your license after an accident is if you are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. California is known for its strict DUI laws and enforcement. If you are in an accident while under the influence, your license will be suspended for six months.
The penalties are even higher for repeat offenders. A second DUI offense results in a two-year suspension, while a third offense will result in a four-year suspension.
It should be noted that when it comes to driving without insurance and while under the influence, you can lose your license even if you are not in an accident. If the police catch you, you will lose your license.
Other Situations in Which Your License Could Be Suspended After an Accident
While the two above situations are the most common ways people have their licenses suspended after an accident, there are other ways it can happen. Some of those ways include:
- Failing to report an accident
- Being convicted of underage drinking
- Refusing to take a drug test or breathalyzer
- Failing to appear at a traffic court date
As with driving without a license and driving under the influence, you don’t necessarily have to be in an accident in order to have your license suspended for the above reasons. In many cases, the accident merely serves as the touchpoint with law enforcement that leads to the loss of your license for a certain period of time.
What You Should Do if You Are in an Accident
If you have been in a car accident, after seeking the appropriate medical care and reporting the accident, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer will be able to determine if the other driver was at fault for your injuries and the damage to your car.
If the driver of the other vehicle is guilty of any of the above infractions, it could mean he or she owes you compensation. With the help of a qualified lawyer, you can maximize the money you receive.