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Law Firm of Aaron Bortel

Legal Matters Involved in DUI Accidents


Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense that is commonly committed across the United States. Naturally, each DUI case has a number of legal matters surrounding it. Understanding these legal issues is absolutely important, whether you’re the intoxicated one behind the wheel or the victim of an alcohol-related car accident. If you or a loved one is involved in an alcohol-related vehicular accident, waste no time in getting the services of an experienced DUI lawyer who is well-versed in DUI laws to get a better grasp of legal matters involved in DUI accidents.

Civil liability

A drunk driver who gets involved in a car accident almost always faces a huge civil liability for any injury or damages he or she caused. For victims, it wouldn’t be too difficult to prove that the at-fault driver was drunk. Law enforcement can always confirm if the BAC or blood alcohol content levels of the driver are normal or not, with the help of breathalyzers, field sobriety tests, and blood tests. And you can count on victims of drunk driving accidents to file a lawsuit every single time.

Some drivers in no-fault states may resort to the no-fault defense, but there are exceptions that allow aggrieved parties to sue drunk drivers involved in car accidents that caused them injury or damages.

If named in a civil suit, the drunk driver could face consequences that go beyond punitive damages. Not only will the driver have to compensate the victim once a decision favorable to the latter is handed down, but he or she is also likely to face an uphill climb obtaining insurance. Renewal of driver’s license could also prove to be a problem.

Criminal liability

Being a crime, a DUI carries a certain amount of criminal liability on the part of the drunk driver. If the car accident he or she is involved in caused the death of someone, the drunk driver could be sued for vehicular manslaughter, which brings more severe consequences than your usual DUI case. In DUI-related accidents that didn’t kill or injure anyone or cause property damage, the drunk driver is still subject to a wide range of penalties which may include heavy fines, driver’s license penalties, forfeiture of vehicle and jail time.

Dram shop laws

Criminal liability in alcohol-related car accidents is not limited to the drunk driver in 38 states where so-called “dram shop laws” are in effect. Under these rules, any business that knowingly serves alcoholic drinks to an obviously intoxicated person can also be held liable by those injured in a vehicular accident caused by their customer. In fact, even social hosts that do the same and knowingly allow their drunk guest to drive may face the same kind of criminal liability.

If the drunk driver is a minor, the adults who gave him or her alcohol or simply let them drink within their property will be held equally liable for the injury, damage or death caused by the minor’s DUI offense. In some states, homeowners could be held liable if a minor involved in a DUI-related car accident was drinking in their home, regardless of whether or not they were aware of it.

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About the Author

My name is Aaron Bortel. I practice in the state of California. I handle DUI cases exclusively and have been practicing for over 25 years.

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