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Injury and property damage caused by drunk driving is not an unusual occurrence in the United States, unfortunately. In 2010 alone, the economic price tag of alcohol-related crashes totaled $44 billion. In 2018, 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities were caused by drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Being charged with driving under the influence is a very serious matter. If you’re involved in an automobile accident while under the influence of alcohol, you will likely face more serious legal consequences than if you were arrested for drunk driving only. When an automobile accident is involved with impaired driving, you may be charged with an aggravated DUI. Many factors, including which state the accident occurred in, will be considered when your case is brought to court. Was someone injured? Was there extensive property damage? Did you endanger someone else in your vehicle? Was the collision your fault?
Some states’ drinking and driving laws don’t specify stronger penalties for aggravated DUI offenders who cause property damage or injury, and other states may upgrade the DUI charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. You can also expect to receive more severe treatment from prosecutors and judges if you’re charged with an aggravated DUI. Chances of a favorable plea bargain are reduced, and judges will usually hand out longer sentences if additional damages or injury occurs. If the automobile accident results in a fatality, however, you will most likely receive a jail sentence.
A 2015 survey compared the experiences of drivers who received standard DUIs (DUIs without accidents) to drivers who received aggravated DUIs (involving property damage or injury). The survey showed:
Along with the legal and financial ramifications of a DUI conviction, you will see a drastic increase in your car insurance rates, especially if a collision is involved.
Depending on the state, an aggravated DUI could also implicate any passengers who were in the vehicle during the accident. If the passenger is of legal driving age and has a blood alcohol concentration of zero, they could also be arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, providing the driver showed obvious signs of intoxication. However, this law is not applicable in all states, so check the drinking and driving laws of the state where you live.
If you are driving while intoxicated and are involved in a collision, you will most likely be considered the negligent driver and cause of the accident. If you feel that this is not the case, you will need to hire a good DUI attorney to help fight these charges and prove that your intoxication did not cause the accident. If you don’t have a good defense, you could end up paying thousands of dollars for any medical or property damage.
If you need assistance with your DUI case, DUI.org experts are available to answer questions and help guide you through your requirements. Call us today at (833) 989-1443 to get started.
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