Drunk Driving Accidents: Criminal Penalties and Consequences of Driving under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious charge. If you operate a vehicle while under the influence of any substance you are at higher risk of causing an accident or causing harm. Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal, and depending on circumstances, may be a felony.

You can be charged with DUI as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are involved in a drunk driving accident you will be charged with a felony, even if it is your first offense. Whatever the situation of your arrest, there are life-impacting consequences for being arrested for this charge, even if you are not convicted.

Financial Consequences Of Being Charged With A DUI/DWI

DUI/DWI convictions are very expensive. Not only are there criminal penalties attached to these convictions, there are also administrative penalties. These costs can add up quickly and have a direct impact on your life. Additionally, the financial impact on your personal life will be significant.

  • Administrative Costs – These include fees of $100 to $300 for license reinstatement, suspended driving privileges, and the requirement for a special car insurance rider known as an SR-22 policy that significantly increases the cost of your insurance, for at least three years.
  • Criminal Costs – Mandatory jail time from two days up to two years. For felony charges, you could face prison sentences of up to 30 years if you cause an accident and someone dies. You may be required to attend a substance abuse treatment center, perform community service, and pay a fine.

In addition to these costs, you will also have court fees and lawyer fees attached to your defense.

On a more personal level, a conviction for a DUI represents many financial burdens. Some of these burdens include:

  • Higher costs for car insurance because of the need for SR22 policy.
  • A higher cost of health insurance premiums because you engage in high-risk behaviors.
  • Inability to get to and from work because your license is suspended. This leads to costs associated with public transportation or having to pay family and friends.
  • Inability to get promoted from work because you have a conviction on your record.
  • Inability to accept some types of jobs because of your driving record.
  • Inability to get a lease because you have to report a conviction
  • Any personal liabilities that you may have to pay due to an accident that you caused while under the influence.

Some courts may also require you to install an ignition interlock device into your car to operate it for a period of time. These portable breathalyzer units must be installed by a professional and you will be required to pay for the installation and later removal of the unit. The state will also require you to place a deposit on the unit itself to ensure that it does not get damaged.

It is very important to understand that even if you are not convicted, many of these additional financial burdens will apply to you. Your insurance company will be notified of the charges against you and will raise your rates or cancel your policy. There will be costs associated with your defense as well as the court fees, and there will be costs associated with getting around until your license is reinstated.

Why Drunk Driving Accidents Are Often More Serious Than Other Types Of Accidents

When a person is driving under the influence of any mind-altering substance, they simply do not have the decision-making skills to operate a vehicle. Their reflexes may be too slow or too quick, their decisions are not rational, and they often drive at abnormally high speeds because they do not even realize that is what they are doing.

All of these things add up to a very serious accident. High-speed accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Although some accidents may not have been able to be avoided under any circumstances, decisions made while under the influence are often incorrect and lead to a more serious event.

In the State of Louisiana, if you cause an injury or death while driving under the influence, you will be charged with a felony, even if it is your first offense. You face serious fines and penalties and may be sentenced to a prison sentence of up to 30 years if convicted. Drunk driving accidents are generally penalized to the full extent of the law.

When You Have Been Injured In A Drunk Driving Accident

Involvement in an accident with a driver who was under the influence is a very serious event. These types of cases must be handled a little differently than those involving two sober drivers because a criminal act is involved. It is very important for victims of this type of accident to seek legal representation from a Shreveport personal injury lawyer to protect their rights.

As a victim of a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your financial losses that are a result of the accident. These losses may include one or more of the following areas:

  • Costs of medical expenses to treat the injuries both current and in the future
  • Costs of extended medical care in the future such as therapy and in-home care
  • Loss of income both current and future
  • Loss of benefits both current and in the future that are a result of the injuries
  • Loss of contributions to your retirement account that are a result of the accident
  • Costs associated with services you cannot perform around your home
  • Costs of services to adapt your home
  • Compensation for loss of consortium

You may also be entitled to special types of compensation such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of limb or disfigurement

Your Shreveport personal injury lawyer will discuss with you all of the types of compensation you can request as part of your compensation package based on the facts of your case.

When criminal activity is involved in the act that caused the injury, special rules may apply to the case. This is why it is very important to seek out legal representation from an attorney who is knowledgeable about cases involving drunk drivers or those who are under the influence. A criminal conviction of the other driver can have an effect on your case.

To understand your rights as an injury victim, you are encouraged to schedule a free consultation with a Shreveport personal injury lawyer. Your attorney can provide you with complete details on your rights to seek compensation for your losses.

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