A DUI arrest doesn’t necessarily affect a personal injury lawsuit. There’s a difference between an arrest and a conviction though. This distinction weighs heavily in the admissibility of evidence of drunk driving in a civil personal injury case.
Attorney Sean Druyon at Druyon Law tells us that a DUI conviction may also result in higher insurance rates, a mark on your criminal record, and it can damage your reputation. If you have been involved in a DUI related accident the smartest thing you can do is hire an attorney. Your attorney will go to battle for you and try to prove that you are not at fault for any injuries that may have been caused in the accident. The last thing you want is to be held accountable for any personal injury that was caused from a DUI related accident because it is cases like this that you could be indicted with criminal and civil charges. You could be facing jail time and financial penalties to pay for any damages that you may have caused.
If the prosecution met their burden of proof and the driver was found guilty of DUI, or if the driver pled guilty to DUI, evidence of intoxication at the time of the crash is generally admissible so long as it’s properly submitted. This might be done through a certified copy of the conviction or plea and/or through the investigating officer who made the DUI arrest. Being intoxicated can’t be the cause of the crash though. The cause must be the negligent operation of the vehicle by the driver because of his or her intoxication.
Proof of being involved in a motor vehicle collision while the driver was intoxicated might be grounds for an award of punitive damages. These damages are difficult to collect on though, because insurers generally don’t cover them.
Dram Shop Laws
According to Utah Code Ann. 32B-15-201, a bar or other commercial establishment that’s involved in the sale or gift of alcoholic beverages can be held liable in a personal injury accident. They must have served the individual alcohol to the point of intoxication or served an intoxicated person. Bartenders are trained to determine when somebody has had too much to drink. They’re required to stop serving people to prevent accidents and personal injuries.
The bottom line is that a mere charge of DUI resulting from a motor vehicle accident probably won’t be admitted into evidence in a personal injury case. A conviction or plea of guilty probably will.