It is a crime for a driver to operate a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges.
A person can commit a first, second, third, and fourth DUI offense. Penalties for repeat offenses increase in fines and jail time; a fifth offense is a class E felony. Criminal felony charges are also possible when a drunk driving incident causes harm or death.
If caught drinking and driving multiple times, you could lose your freedom and job, suspend your license, and be mandated to attend an alcohol treatment program or rehabilitation for substance abuse.
How is a Criminal DUI Charge Different?
What elevates a drunk driving charge is whether bodily harm, serious injury, or death occurred due to a drunk driving car accident. Other circumstances influence a verdict in a criminal case, such as whether or not the driver was underage, a minor or disabled passenger was on-board, and any other prior convictions are involved.
In this instance, a criminal prosecutor will aim to prove—with the burden of proof—that every aspect of the DUI offense led to or caused another person’s injuries or death. The defendant can face prison time, substantial fines, and other penalties if convicted.
Contact our law firm to discuss your criminal charges and the path of least resistance.
What is a Civil DUI?
In civil drunk driving lawsuits, victims of a drunk driving-related accident can pursue monetary damages due to property damage and personal injury. Unlike a criminal charge, civil cases do not result in jail or prison time.
If convicted in a civil drunk driving lawsuit, the defendant must compensate a victim or victim(s) for economic losses, including medical expenses, an emergency room or hospital visit, property damage, insurance costs, and lost wages, among other expenses.
The defendant might also be responsible for noneconomic damages and fines related to physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, physical impairment, and companionship damages if a family member is killed in a drunk driving accident.
What Type of Experience Should an Attorney Have?
There’s a lot on the line in criminal and civil cases. It’s prudent to consider the experience of a civil or criminal defense attorney as opposed to a general practice lawyer that might not have the knowledge or trial experience to increase your chances of success.
In criminal drunk driving cases where you caused an accident, property damage, bodily harm, or death, your freedom hangs in the balance, and the prosecutors are tough. In a civil case, you might be responsible for significant financial restitution and face a lifetime of debt if convicted.
Both civil and criminal cases demand attorneys with proven results. See why clients choose our legal team to take on challenging issues—call (302) 678-8700.