What if I Hurt Someone in a DUI Crash?

In every state in the United States, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Driving under the influence of alcohol can result in a range of criminal charges.

Depending on the state and the circumstances, you could face a felony offense for drunk driving. When a driver causes a DUI crash, the person can face additional criminal charges and penalties.

What Happens After a DUI Crash?

In most cases, the police respond to the accident scene as they do with other accidents. The officer begins investigating the crash to determine what happened. If the officer suspects a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the police officer conducts a DUI investigation.

The officer may request the driver to submit to a roadside breathalyzer. The driver may also be asked to take the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). The SFSTs are a set of three physical tests to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Some states have implied consent laws that require a driver to submit to BAC testing. If the driver refuses, the driver faces a mandatory license suspension. In some cases, the officer could obtain a court order to perform a BAC blood test.

The officer will determine if he has probable cause for a DUI arrest. If so, the DUI arrest proceeds just like any other arrest. However, the DUI charges are likely to be more severe.

What are the Criminal Charges for a DUI Crash?

The criminal charges for a DUI crash depend on the circumstances.

If you have a history of DUI convictions, the charges could be more severe. If the person is permanently disabled or killed, the charges are more severe. The charges are more severe the higher your BAC was at the time of the crash.

If the DUI crash results in injuries to another person, you could be charged with a felony if the injuries are serious. When someone dies because of a DUI crash, the drunk driver is usually charged with a felony. Depending on the state laws, the prosecutor may even charge the driver with vehicular manslaughter, involuntary homicide, or murder.

What are the Penalties for a DUI Crash?

When a person is injured because of a drunk driver, courts are not as lenient. Even with a first-time DUI charge, if someone dies or is disabled, the court is not likely to go lightly on the drunk driver.

For example, most first-time DUIs are misdemeanors. However, when you hurt someone while intoxicated, the charge generally escalates to a felony. For that reason, it is always best to consult with a DUI criminal defense attorney if you are accused of causing a DUI accident.

As with other DUI cases, the penalties for a DUI crash depend on the charges. If you are facing DUI murder charges, you could face years in prison. If the victim sustained only minor injuries, you might face some time in jail, but you could also enter a plea agreement for probation.

The potential penalties for a DUI crash include, but are not limited to:

  • Substantial fines;
  • Extended prison sentences;
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges;
  • Probation;
  • Ignition Interlock Device;
  • Alcohol treatment programs; and,
  • Restitution.

A DUI defense lawyer can help you develop a defense strategy based on the facts of the case. You could have one or more valid defenses to the criminal charges.

Potential Civil Penalties for a DUI Crash

Each year, thousands of people are killed or injured by drunk drivers. During 2018, an average of one person died every 50 minutes in an alcohol-impaired accident.

In addition to the criminal penalties you could face from causing a DUI crash, you could also face civil penalties.

When a driver causes a DUI accident, that driver is responsible for any damages caused by the accident. Damages in a drunk driving accident include the victim’s financial damages, such as medical bills, loss of income, and other expenses.

Damages in a drunk driving accident also include non-economic damages, commonly referred to as pain and suffering damages. Noneconomic damages include physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish. It includes the loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life.

Your car insurance should compensate the victim for damages caused by the crash. However, if you do not have enough liability insurance to pay the victim’s claim in full, you are personally liable for the damages.

In some states, an accident victim can request a wage garnishment for the amount of personal judgment. Judgments related to DUI damages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Therefore, you could face substantial civil penalties in addition to your criminal penalties for causing a DUI crash.

Yeargan & Kert, LLC
Atlanta DUI Lawyer
1170 Peachtree St NE #1200
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 467-1747