“Dave’s Not Here!”: The Intoxication Defense in California Law

by Michael P. Burns (March 28, 2018)

Recent concern over the use of opioid medications, whether obtained with or without a prescription, has prompted many employers to carefully examine the sobriety of their employees. Studies have shown that two-thirds of those who misuse or abuse opioids are employed. In addition to affecting productivity, drug and alcohol abuse create concerns for insurers when industrial injuries occur.

Under Labor Code 5705(b), an applicant’s intoxication is a defense to workers’ compensation benefits when the employer can prove the employee’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury. Because this defense has been narrowly applied, insurers should be aware of the requirements to prove the intoxication defense.