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What Happens If My DUI Results in a Civil Suit?

Driving drunk is a criminal offense. This means that a person who is pulled over and violated drunk driving laws will be arrested and face trial to receive a punishment. It’s likely that a trial would be presented before a jury to determine the future of the individual. If found guilty the suspect could serve jail time, pay fines, and pay restitution fees to those involved. The penalties can vary depending on whether an accident or death occurred as a result of the drunk driving. This criminal trial is one that either finds the driver guilty or not guilty or simply provides a type of sentence. In some cases, civil suits may also be filed against a driver. Civil suits that can be brought against drivers for multiple reasons. Civil claims against drunk drivers can include negligence, battery, wrongful death, emotional distress, and more. A victim or the family of a victim can bring a suit against the driver and receive damages, or monetary rewards, as a result.

Civil claims are costly and require an attorney to represent individuals that are in these similar situations. These attorneys are generally known as civil defense attorneys, attorneys normally do not “specialize” in civil defense of DUI cases alone. There is always a party that was physically and emotionally affected by the choice of a drunk driver. This could be a victim involved in the accident, a passenger of the drunk driver, or family members who lost a loved one. This is hard for anyone, but it’s important to know that the driver also has rights.

An attorney representing an alleged drunk driver is tasked with showing that the facts or procedures taken by law officers were flawed in some way. This is true for both criminal and civil proceedings. In a civil proceeding, a plaintiff will retain a civil attorney that specializes in DUI/OVI suits representing victims or the victim’s families. The plaintiff party files a lawsuit in civil court and proceeds with the process. The defendant will then be served with a notification that a lawsuit was filed and will then need to obtain an attorney. This is one of the most crucial moments of the legal process and in the lawsuit against you: finding the attorney for you

What is the Right Way To Defend Yourself in a DUI Civil Suit?

The right way to defend yourself in any civil lawsuit is to retain an attorney. Finding an attorney isn’t as easy as simply searching for an attorney on the internet, although it’s a start. You want to find an attorney that specializes in your specific case. If you were charged with a DUI but wasn’t found guilty, then you need an attorney who can defend your innocence in a civil suit as well.

Many times, that same criminal defense attorney that assisted you in your criminal case isn’t the right attorney for the civil case. This is because there are different procedures and aspects between both types of cases. A criminal case is tried by the State, which consists of government employees working for the District Attorney. Your defense may have been a “court-appointed” attorney who also works for the government. Both attorneys in a civil suit, however, are privately retained and usually with a higher price tag. This is because instead of being tried fines and jail time, you’re being tried to pay what is called “damages,” or in other words, monetary retribution to the other party. You want an attorney that will prevent you having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that may have not been completely your fault. A great DUI/OVI will be able to prove that to the court and jury, especially if you were found not guilty in your criminal case. Please note, however, just because you were found innocent of a DUI/OVI in your criminal proceeding, doesn’t mean you will also be found innocent in a civil suit.

What Are Other Defenses in a Civil Suit?

Just in 2017, an Ohio woman was found liable in a civil lawsuit against her for causing significant physical injuries and emotional distress to another woman as a result of a drunk driver. As a result, the victim’s spleen was removed, she had a lacerated liver, brain bleeding, and broken bones. As bad as this scene was it was found that the driver wasn’t solely liable for the accident and the victim’s injuries. The American Legion in Beallsville, OH was also found liable due to the excess of alcohol served to the visually intoxicated woman. Although still found liable, the woman didn’t hold the burden of liability alone causing American Legion also paid damages.

How Can a Criminal Case and Civil Suit Be Linked?

There is a reason that many civil lawsuits for drunk driving take place after the criminal case is done. Depending on what is found in a criminal proceeding for an individual’s DUI case, it may be used in the civil suit that follows behind. This can be great or not so great for the civil suit. For example, if the jury in the criminal drunk driving case found that the breathalyzer machine test that read the alcohol levels was found to be wrongfully calibrated then that evidence may be thrown out. This information can also be used in a civil suit to help the defendant; however, if the opposite was found and the breathalyzer read correctly, then that evidence can also be used in a civil suit. You need an attorney that can take the information and evidence from a DUI/OVI case and to strategically tell your story. We make sure we do all we can to help you throughout this process from when you first are charged up to when you are faced with paying thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. Call us to help you today!