There are generally two types of consequences that someone who drives while drunk might face. The first is the possibility of prosecution by the state. Anyone who gets behind the wheel while obviously impaired or while over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration could face charges in this way. The vast majority of such cases result in a guilty plea, in many cases that go to trial and in a conviction because the state likely has various types of evidence supporting the claim against any particular driver in question.
Those who cause drunk driving collisions could also face civil penalties in the form of personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Those hurt by a drunk driver or adjusting to life after the death of a loved one could sue to recover the financial losses caused by a drunk driving crash.
Litigation is still an option after a conviction
Some people mistakenly believe that a criminal conviction will prevent them from suing a drunk driver. They might reference double jeopardy rules as the justification for that belief. However, double jeopardy rules only apply to criminal prosecution by the state.
Those rules have no impact on an individual’s right to hold another person responsible for illegal activity or negligence. Arizona law is very clear about the right of those harmed by others to seek compensation in the civil courts. It may be possible to pursue compensation for lost wages, medical bills and any other costs not fully covered by insurance after a drunk driving crash. Even if the drunk driver is currently serving a jail sentence, the courts could still award compensation to the plaintiff.
There should be consequences for unsafe behavior
Some people feel guilty about the idea of taking legal action against someone who has already faced punishment from the state. However, laws allowing for civil lawsuits after car crashes exist for a reason. Individuals should be accountable for the damages they cause to others through their bad decisions or negligence.
Choosing to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit after a drunk driving crash is a reasonable response to another person’s poor decision-making resulting in the harm of another. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.