Drunk Driving – Criminal Versus Civil Legal Issues

Driving while drunk is a seriously bad maneuver for a host of reasons. You will learn as much if you are involved in an accident while driving drunk. Such an accident will raise the issue of criminal versus civil legal issues you’ll have to deal with in court.

There is a certain fear factor used to deter drunk driving. The fear is created by the threat of harsh penalties. The penalties range from jail time to massive fines. These penalties are all related to criminal legal actions. What is not often discussed is the fact civil actions can arise from drunk driving situations. Let’s take a look at an example.

You go down to the local watering spot to watch the big game. The game takes three hours and you consume a number of adult beverages during this period. In fact, you are legally drunk. You hop in the car to drive home. You fall asleep at the wheel and run into someone else. They are taken away to the hospital and you are taken away to jail. You later learn they suffered whiplash, but are otherwise okay. So, what now?

The first thing that is going to happen is pretty much what you would expect. You are going to be charged with a DUI and a host of other charges related to it. Depending on the state, you may well be charged with a Felony DUI since an accident occurred. You’ll need to hire an attorney, which is going to cost a pretty penny. You are probably going to be convicted or forced to take a plea bargain deal. This means facing everything from large fines to jail time. Basically, it is going to be a nightmare scenario, but there is more to consider.

The driver of the car you hit is going to be very unhappy as you might imagine. That person is going to sue you in civil court. Your car insurance will provide for your attorney and some money towards damages, but you are going to be responsible for the rest of any judgment. With massive car damage and physical injuries, the judgment is going to be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is on top of what you already spent in the criminal action.

The total cost of a DUI in both criminal and civil actions will wipe out most people from a financial perspective. Filing bankruptcy is a very common step following the cases. The next time you consume adult beverages, just spend the money on a cab. It simply makes financial sense.