A DUI lawyer is often asked to compare civil with criminal cases. Sometimes there is an overlap, but there are many differences. If you were injured by a DUI driver, it’s important to understand how the judicial system handles cases like yours. We encourage you to contact a DUI lawyer for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options and how they can help you get justice from the party who caused your injuries.
What is a DUI driver?
DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence. As a DUI lawyer might tell you, “under the influence” means that the driver is unable to safely operate their vehicle as a result of having consumed one or more substances. The driver might be under the influence of any of the following:
- Illegal narcotic(s)
- Prescription medication that was prescribed to the individual or is being used illegally
Depending on the driver’s blood alcohol content, they might be charged with a DUI or a related offense. Your DUI lawyer can explain more as the information you need to know will be specific to your case.
What is a civil lawsuit?
A civil case is litigation involving two parties, one (the plaintiff) who is pursuing compensation from the other party (defendant). Usually the two parties are private citizens, but the defendant can be a state government entity. It is a private lawsuit rather than a criminal trial, and your DUI lawyer can represent you in court. In addition:
- If the defendant is found guilty, they will be legally obligated to pay the plaintiff a financial award. The plaintiff will have calculated an amount that they feel is reasonable and fair but the Judge or jury will make the final determination as to the actual amount. If the defendant does not feel that the award is fair, they can appeal that amount but there is no guarantee that the appeal determination will be less. In fact, it may be higher than the original amount awarded to the plaintiff.
- If the defendant is found guilty, they will not be sentenced to jail or prison time.
- If the defendant is found not guilty, the plaintiff may have to reimburse the defendant for their attorney fees and trial costs.
- A civil lawsuit against a defendant is in no way related to a criminal trial and may be pursued regardless of whether or not the defendant is charged with a crime.
What is a criminal case?
A criminal case is one in which the state or federal government has charged an individual with a crime and their guilt or innocence is determined in a court trial by a jury of their peers. In the context of a DUI driver, driving under the influence is a criminal offense and if so charged, the driver will be judged in court. If found guilty, they face jail or prison time, significant fines, the revoking of their driver’s license, and other penalties.
Were you injured by a DUI driver and would like to seek justice against them? Contact a DUI lawyer about how they can help you.