If your DUI involves an accident, the penalties you face are much more serious and include prison time, restitution payments, and potentially a lawsuit.
No DUI arrest is pleasant. But the most difficult ones are those that involve a car accident. If you have been in an accident and arrested for DUI, remain calm. There is hope for your future and a good DUI lawyer can help you.
If your DUI involves a car accident, you need to be aware of the legal consequences you face. If there was property damage, injuries, or even a death, the consequences are more severe than they would be if no one was hurt. These consequences include criminal penalties, restitution payments, and potentially a lawsuit over compensation for the victims.
Legal Penalties for DUI Car Accidents
If a DUI involved an accident and no one was hurt, you will likely face a normal DUI charge—but the prosecutor may seek a heavy sentence, maximizing jail time and fines because you are seen as presenting a danger to others.
If someone was hurt, the penalties depend on how serious the injuries were. Minor injuries may carry a sentence enhancement on a regular DUI charge, adding more jail time and a one-year license suspension. Serious injuries can turn your DUI into a felony case and could carry prison time.
If someone died in the accident, there are three charges you could face:
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- DUI murder
All of these carry prison time, in some cases up to 10 or 15 years or even life in prison.
Restitution after a DUI Car Accident
Regardless of the specific charges you face, any DUI accident is likely to involve a restitution payment. Restitution is money that you pay to the victims. It is supposed to help them recoup the cost of fixing their car, paying medical bills, etc. In some cases the costs can soar, including lost time at work, legal fees and collection costs.
Restitution is money you are ordered to pay by the judge as part of your criminal trial, without a separate lawsuit needed. Learn more about restitution here: What is DUI restitution?
Facing a Lawsuit
In some cases the victims of the accident may choose to sue you. Again, this is to recover the costs associated with the accident. The lawsuit is handled separately from the criminal case. Typically they will wait to find out the results of your trial and then file suit in civil court, asking for compensation.
The types of costs the victims can recover in a lawsuit are similar to those covered by restitution. However, they may not be happy with the amount the judge decided at the restitution hearing, or feel that their costs weren’t adequately addressed. A lawsuit is their chance to get the rest of the money they’re owed.
How to Protect Yourself
If your DUI arrest involves an accident, you need to speak to an experienced DUI lawyer immediately. We can help. Let us connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.