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Does a DUI conviction mean you can’t sue a drunk driver?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2022 | Personal Injury Law

Drunk driving is a common and illegal form of negligence. People get behind the wheel because they assume they won’t get caught or because they have driven after drinking hundreds of times without causing a crash. They don’t stop to think about the risk their actions could have for them, let alone the impact it could have on others.

You may know this already because a drunk driver caused a crash that seriously hurt you, damaged your property or killed a member of your family. However, you aren’t sure about your right to justice. The state of California successfully prosecuted that driver. They may even be in state custody because of their decision to get behind the wheel while chemically impaired.

A criminal conviction is one form of justice that can give your family closure after a tragic loss because of a drunk driver. Is your opportunity for justice through the civil courts gone because of the criminal case against them?

A successful criminal case does not eliminate civil liability

The Double Jeopardy rule protects individuals accused of crimes from facing criminal charges twice for the same incident. The goal is to prevent government abuses of the criminal courts. A civil case brought by individuals is not the same thing as government prosecution.

More importantly, a drunk driving conviction does not absolve that driver of their civil and financial liability for causing harm to you or your family. If anything, that criminal court conviction will make it easier for you to meet the burden of proof in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Understanding your rights after a drunk driving crash can help you pursue financial justice via a personal injury claim in addition to criminal justice.