Being involved in a car accident is scary enough, but being in a crash after drinking alcohol can be a lot more devastating for reasons we’re going to explain. If you were in a car accident and later charged with driving under the influence, you may be wondering, “Can I be charged with DUI if I wasn’t at-fault?” or “Can I be sued by the other driver?” These are both perfectly valid questions and they come up regularly.
Since DUI accidents happen all the time, we wanted to answer some frequently asked questions about DUI crashes. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact our DUI defense firm directly.
1. Can I be charged with DUI if it wasn’t my fault?
Suppose you were driving through a green light and a driver blows through a red light and strikes the side of your car, T-boning you. Clearly, the other driver was at-fault for the accident but when the officers arrive on the scene, they smell alcohol on your breath and end up arresting YOU for driving under the influence. Is this legal? Yes, it is. If the officers arrive at the scene of a crash and observe that one of the drivers is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver can be arrested for DUI, even if they are not at-fault.
2. Is a DUI accident an automatic felony?
Just because a drunk driver causes a crash, it does not mean that he or she will face felony DUI charges. If the accident caused property damage only, or minor injuries, it will most likely be charged as a misdemeanor offense. However, if someone was seriously injured or killed, the drunk driver would likely be charged with felony DUI.
3. Can I be sued in civil court if I’m facing criminal charges?
Let’s say you are found guilty of felony DUI because you killed a pedestrian as a result of drunk driving. In that case, the deceased pedestrian’s surviving family members are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against you in civil court. In drunk or drugged driving accidents involving property damage, bodily injuries or death, the victims of the crash can sue the drunk or drugged driver in civil court. In other words, there can be a criminal case and a civil case filed simultaneously against the drunk driver.
We sincerely hope this post answers your questions. If you are facing DUI charges after being in a DUI accident in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to schedule a free consultation with a Board-Certified DUI defense attorney.