Learning About Personal Injury Cases And Drunk Driving Accidents

If you have been in a car accident due to a drunk driver, the physical, emotional, and financial turmoil is overwhelming. In such a situation, having adequate knowledge about your legal rights and options can be a crucial step on the road to recovery. Let’s discuss this particular case scenario.

What Does It Mean To Be Driving Under the Influence?

Driving under the influence, or (DUI) for short, is the condition where the driver is operating a motor vehicle with impairment due to alcohol, drugs, or other substances.

Every state has its own legal limits and definitions for what qualifies as impairment or intoxication while driving. DUI offenses are charged even if the vehicle is not in motion. On the other hand, some states require that the individual operates or “is in actual physical control” of the vehicle.

The offense can involve a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, being impaired by drugs or alcohol ingested, or a combination of both.

Differences Between Drunk Driving and Normal Car Accidents

DUI accidents are not like regular car accidents due to the criminal nature of the offense. When a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they endanger not only themselves but others on the road, too. Criminal charges like fines, jail time, and license suspension do not automatically compensate victims for their losses, necessitating civil action to seek damages.

Here are some differences between the two:

  1. Legal Consequences and Compensation
    In DUI cases, victims usually need to pursue the route for civil lawsuits against the impaired driver to recover all sorts of costs, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
    The impaired driver’s actions may result in higher compensatory damages. Punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the drunk driver for their reckless behavior.
  2. Hit-and-Run Incidents and Dram Shop Liability (where applicable)
    Drunk driving accidents, more often than not, involve hit-and-run incidents, leaving the victims to cover costs themselves. Establishments that serve alcohol to individuals who later cause accidents may also be held liable under dram shop liability laws, adding another layer of legal complexity to these cases.
  3. Wrongful Death Cases and Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings
    When the case is of wrongful death resulting from drunk driving accidents, families of the deceased can get significant damages. It is crucial to note that civil and criminal cases that are conjoined with DUI-drunk driving accidents are separate, allowing victims to seek compensation through civil lawsuits regardless of the outcome of criminal proceedings.

The Extent of DUI Penalties

The severity of penalties in drunk driving cases can easily be determined by several factors, including:

  1. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Level
    Different levels of drunkenness lead to varying penalties. It is a given with higher BAC levels; the compensation is more with severe consequences for the culprit. States often categorize BAC levels into general impairment, high BAC, and highest BAC, each carrying different penalties.
  2. Prior Offenses To The Current
    If the person has had previous DUI convictions, the severity of punishments for the current offense can significantly increase. The number of prior cases, whether it is the first, second, or subsequent DUI, plays a crucial role in determining the penalties imposed.
  3. Driver and Offense Details
    If the behavior of the drunk driver is questionable, the severity of compensation and penalties can go up. Some of them include:

    • Failure to submit to chemical or breath tests
    • Causing harm to people or property
    • Driving under the influence as a minor, commercial driver, or school bus driver
  4. Type of Vehicle
    The type of vehicle that was being driven at the time of the accident can also influence the severity of penalties. For example, driving a commercial motor vehicle with a certain BAC level can lead to consequences such as license suspension or revocation.

Closing Note

If you are in a similar situation, do not hesitate to contact our skilled lawyer. We are here to help you in every way possible. Get in touch with George Edwards III, a founder and partner at Edwards Sutarwalla Samani LLP from Howard University School of Law, his main practice areas include civil rights and personal injury. Call us at (713) 565-1353 for more information.


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