Criminal Cases and Civil Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is an extreme form of negligence. In Texas and every other state, it is also a serious crime that can result in severe criminal penalties for those convicted, including significant time behind bars. But these penalties do not include awarding compensation to tche victims of the crime. Obtaining compensation requires filing a civil personal injury lawsuit. While these are two separate proceedings with different rules and standards of proof, a drunk driver’s criminal case proceedings can have a big impact on a plaintiff’s personal injury or wrongful death claims.
The evidence that Texas prosecutors use to obtain DWI convictions – including police reports, field sobriety tests, blood, breath, or chemical tests, and witness testimony – can also be critical in proving negligence in a drunk driving accident injury lawsuit. If the driver is ultimately convicted of DWI in a criminal case, that conviction can be used as evidence of negligence in a civil lawsuit as well.
Even if the drunk driver obtains an acquittal or is not prosecuted for DWI, a good personal injury lawyer can still show that alcohol was in the driver’s system and impaired his or her driving at the time of the crash. Just because a driver’s blood alcohol content was lower than Texas’ legal limit does not necessarily mean he or she was not impaired and negligent.