A person accused of drunk driving knows that they are in for grievous consequences if they are convicted. While the punishment for a DUI is not the same in every state, this is not a conviction you want to have on your record. Additionally, most states will make your punishment more severe if you caused an accident while driving drunk or injured someone in the accident. A person who has not gotten a DUI before and does not have a record may think that a judge will be more lenient if this is their first offense. While this is true in many cases, aggravating factors—such as a personal injury while driving drunk—can turn your misdemeanor into a felony.
If there is no law regarding increased punishment, can a person get off easier?
Not necessarily. Even if a state does not have a law in place that mandates an increase in punishment if a DUI accident causes injuries, a judge (and the prosecution) may choose to make the sentence harsh. Below are some examples of harsher punishments.
- The prosecution may not offer a favorable plea bargain
- The other party involved (or their family) will file a lawsuit against you
- The judge may increase prison time
- The judge may increase the amount of the fine
- Your insurance may increase your rates or drop you
Are criminal and civil charges the same?
When a person is facing both DUI and personal injury charges, this means they have criminal and civil charges against them. The party who was injured in this accident has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defense and this will not be the same as the criminal DUI charges. Unlike criminal charges, a personal injury lawsuit is brought forth for the injured person to receive compensation for things like pain and suffering or medical bills. Civil charges are not there to put the driver in prison.
What will a DUI conviction do to a person’s life?
Aside from the fines and potential prison time, a DUI conviction can affect your personal life as well, as the lawyers at Cohen & Cohen can explain. It can dictate whether you can drive, what kinds of jobs you can get, how high your insurance rates are, or whether your insurance company drops you altogether.
What can someone do when they are faced with DUI personal injury charges?
The first thing to do is not get overwhelmed. Facing these charges quickly and head-on is the best thing to do so that you can prepare for both a civil trial and a criminal trial. These are very serious charges but attempting to defend yourself can be extremely difficult. A local DUI personal injury lawyer can work with you to gather evidence and build a defense on your behalf.