Accidents involving driving under the influence are often harmful in terms of legal consequences, but have you considered the potential for financial consequences? While it’s true that in virtually all states DUI convictions result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines and fees, but what many people don’t realize is that some drivers convicted of DUIs may be facing a much steeper financial loss.
Who is at Risk?
In most cases, drivers who injure, kill or cause property damage while driving under the influence are the ones who are most at risk for serious financial losses. In such cases, the offending driver may be sued for damages in civil court for personal injuries and property damage, and this is where things get really serious.
Drivers who are sued in civil court for personal injury damages related to driving under the influence may be forced to pay out costs that exceed one million dollars, depending upon the circumstances. Keep in mind that DUI accidents can cause serious bodily harm and even death, and because medical costs associated with DUI accidents can be incredibly high, convicted drivers may be facing serious financial consequences. In addition, many personal injury lawsuits also cover a victim’s pain and suffering, and because it’s very difficult to place a value on such things, juries often award outrageous sums of money for them.
Even If You Aren’t Convicted
It’s also important to point out that a drunk driver who causes a personal injury doesn’t have to be convicted in criminal court in order to be sued in civil court. For example, if you were pulled over, arrested and charged with drunk driving, but you got off in criminal court on a technicality, such as the Breathalyzer device being improperly calibrated, you could still be sued in civil court for damages if you caused personal injuries.
It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents in the United States involve alcohol intoxication, meaning by drinking and driving, you are likely to be involved in a crash that kills someone. For accidents involving injuries, the statistics only rise. Additionally, the punishments for a DUI that doesn’t involve an accident, injury or death are substantially lower than those that do.
For instance, when convicted of a DUI that didn’t involve injury, you may be simply looking at fines, fees and the loss of your driving privileges. If your accident involved injury, death or property damage, you may be looking at increased costs and years of jail time in addition to a civil lawsuit.
Because of the potential for all of these consequences, drivers are strongly encouraged to avoid drinking and driving at all costs. Even though you may be tempted to drink and drive, please think of all the innocent people you could put in danger. While your desire to get home on your own may be strong, you also need to consider the potential consequences of doing so not only for yourself, but for the lives of everyone else on the road. Do yourself and everyone else a favor – don’t drink and drive.
A legal researcher who stays on top of the latest DUI laws, Kelly Kovacic writes articles for the legal community. The consequences of DUI charges involving personal injury can be devastating. If you are facing these charges you should contact a lawyer for professional help. The Law Offices of Steve E. Kellis have the expertise and years of experience to help anyone facing these devastating charges.