DUI and Car Accidents: Legal Consequences and Implications
Drivers who operate their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs face legal consequences from the police like fines or jail time. If they cause an accident, they could also face civil consequences like lawsuits filed by the injured party. If you were hurt by a driver who received a DUI, a car accident lawyer from our firm can go over the legal implications and your opportunities for damages.
Car Accident Legal Consequences for DUIs
Drivers who are pulled over and charged with a DUI—driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol—might face lighter consequences than ones who cause accidents. In the first scenario, the impaired driver broke the law, whereas in the second scenario, they also caused harm.
According to Florida Statutes §316.193, the DUI penalties for car accidents in Florida depends on whether this is the driver’s first conviction or not. The severity of the crash—both in terms of property damage and injuries—can also make a difference in the charges faced by the driver.
For example, a crash with property damage and minor injuries could result in the driver getting charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. By contrast, an accident that causes serious bodily injury could mean the driver faces a third-degree felony. These carry different fines, jail time, and other consequences like suspended licenses.
Legal Implications vs. Civil Consequences for a DUI Car Accident
The punishments listed above are only what a drunk driver will face from the authorities. Moreover, any fines they are charged don’t go to accident victims. While a DUI charge can hold a driver accountable to the law, it doesn’t hold the driver accountable for any losses they caused in an accident.
Instead, victims of a DUI collision have to seek compensation either through a car accident lawsuit or a car accident injury claim. This requires proving the driver was negligent:
- They owed you a duty of care – When they got behind the wheel, they were obligated to act with caution and attention.
- They violated that duty of care – By driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they did not take proper precautions.
- You have injuries – Their impaired driving caused you harm, resulting in medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
- The driver’s behavior and actions directly caused your losses – Without this breach of duty of care, you would not have injuries.
Often, a driver being charged with DUI is evidence of their negligence, allowing you to recover damages through an insurance claim. If the driver was uninsured or underinsured, or there were other issues with the case, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation directly from the driver.
How Does a DUI Affect Car Accident Injury Claims and Lawsuits?
A DUI charge can provide evidence for your civil case since it highlights the driver’s impairment. The police may cite them as the at-fault party. However, a DUI isn’t the final say in your case. In fact, you can pursue a claim or suit against the driver even if their charge is thrown out or they were under the legal limit for impairment.
This is because DUI cases and civil cases are separate from each other. Despite dealing with the same accident, each one is approached independently, with different requirements. To pursue compensation, you don’t need to prove the other driver broke the law, just that they were negligent.
As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points out, even a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 has caused crashes—well within the boundaries of the law but still evidence of negligence. A personal injury lawyer can go over how evidence can point to negligence in your case even if no one faces charges from the police.
Options for Victims of a Car Crash and Impaired Driving
You are free to contact a fort lauderdale car accident lawyer at any time about pursuing an insurance claim or suit for a DUI case. You don’t need to wait until the driver faces penalties for driving while impaired. You don’t even need to encounter resistance before getting help. boynton beach car accident Lawyers can act as your go-between, translate paperwork into layman’s terms, juggle calls, or simply get more information.
Our attorneys can spearhead your case for damages. Although our case is independent of the police’s, we can still obtain police reports and charges when gathering evidence of impairment. We also talk with witnesses, review traffic camera footage, go over photos, and reconstruct what occurred with the help of experts. In other words, we do our own investigating.
What Can You Receive for a DUI Personal Injury Case?
If you were in a car accident and can prove the other party was negligent, you can seek compensation for:
- Emergency care
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Long-term care
- Lost income
- Reduced earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced enjoyment of life
Call the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato if You Were Hurt in a DUI Accident
Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more about the consequences of DUIs and car accidents. Our firm is committed to making sure you know all your options following a crash, from claims to lawsuits. With decades of experience in Florida, we know the state’s impaired driving laws and how they’ll affect you. Reach out for a personalized assessment today when you call (954) 633-8270.