What Happens If You’re Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident?

Driver with head in his hands after drunk driving accident

What happens if you’re injured in a collision caused by a driver who is under the influence of alcohol? If you were senselessly injured because of a drunk driver, you could be preoccupied with issues such as your medical bills, lost income, and your recovery.

You are likely also wondering if and how you can obtain compensation for your injuries. You don’t have to face these challenges alone. Contact the dedicated, tough personal injury attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, for a free consultation today.

What Happens If You’re Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident?

Practically speaking, the first steps to take after being in an accident caused by a drunk driver are much the same as they would be for any other traffic accident.

Call 911 immediately to bring both paramedics and law enforcement to the scene. It is essential to seek prompt medical treatment even if you do not know the extent of your injuries. Some potentially life-threatening conditions may not be immediately obvious.

The police can conduct a field sobriety test on a driver they suspect to be intoxicated, which could help your case for compensation down the road.

Liability for Accidents While Driving Drunk

A drunk driver may face both criminal and civil liability for causing an accident. While the criminal courts will determine if the driver owes a debt to society, the civil courts offer accident victims the chance to pursue compensation for the losses they’ve suffered. These losses might include injuries, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Can a Driver Be Charged with Drunk Driving in an Accident?

You may be asking, “What happens if I have an accident while driving drunk?” A drunk driver may face criminal penalties for driving while intoxicated, such as jail time and loss of driver’s license. A related question is, “How does an accident affect DUI penalties?”

The answer is that penalties are enhanced if charges are associated with an accident where someone suffers serious bodily injury, traumatic brain injury, or death.

Can a Driver Be Held Civilly Liable Regardless of Criminal Charges?

In addition to criminal penalties, a drunk driver may be held civilly liable, meaning they may be ordered to pay money to compensate anyone they injured. Civil liability does not rest on the outcome of a criminal DUI charge, however, and neither criminal charges nor a conviction is required for civil liability.

For example, if an accused drunk driver is found not guilty of DUI in a criminal case, but a civil court finds that their excessive speed caused the crash, they might still be ordered to compensate the injured victim in civil court.

Evidence of intoxication might be enough to establish civil liability without clearing the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold required for a criminal conviction.

On the other hand, if a drunk driver is rear-ended while safely stopped at a red light, and the driver of the other vehicle was injured, the drunk driver likely would not be civilly liable for those injuries even if they are convicted of DUI.

Reach Out to Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Today

If you were involved in a drunk driving accident, contact Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, for a free consultation. Our Houston drunk driving accident lawyers look forward to discussing your case and how we can help you pursue justice.

About the Author

Eric Pines
For more than 25 years, attorney Eric L. Pines has been a trusted advocate for individuals who have seen their lives turned upside down by devastating personal injuries and difficult employment/labor law matters. As a founding partner at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, he is committed to providing a strong voice for people who are at risk of being taken advantage of by large insurance companies. He knows the aggressive tactics that insurance companies use to minimize or even deny personal injury claims. Eric won’t let his clients be bullied. He takes a tough stand to demand the maximum compensation his clients need to move forward with their lives after serious accidents.