If you’re facing a DWI charge, you’re likely worried about some of the more immediate consequences that may result in you’re convicted. This likely includes a driver’s license suspension, fines and jail time.
If your DWI arrest involved a crash in which someone was injured, you likely need to be concerned about them filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against you. This is one of those collateral consequences, a drunk driving conviction potentially adversely impacting your job, that you need to worry about in addition to defending yourself against the criminal charges that you face.
How do criminal and civil cases intersect?
If someone else suffers injuries or is killed in the crash, then it’s likely that your DWI charges may be enhanced to more serious ones, such as hit-and-run or vehicular manslaughter. State law allows victims in these situations to file civil suits to recover compensation for medical bills or for wrongful death claims. Doing so doesn’t constitute double jeopardy.
In fact, many motorists who do end up filing personal injury lawsuits find it easier to secure a favorable outcome in their civil case when DWI defendants have been convicted. This is the case because one of the grounds on which someone can prove negligence in a personal injury case is by showing that the other party engaged in criminal behavior or other wrongful acts.
Minimizing your legal exposure when facing a DWI charge
Perhaps the best way to minimize your legal exposure is by keeping the focus on eliminating your criminal charges. You can accomplish this by having a defense strategy the refutes prosecutors’ version of events. While this won’t always protect you from facing civil action, you’ll want to shield yourself however you can. Doing so will ensure that you’ll be able to more quickly get back on your feet again.