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2 types of court cases stemming from drunk driving crashes

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Drunk driving crashes are serious matters because they can lead to innocent people being injured and to an impaired driver facing criminal charges. Many people don’t realize that an  impaired driving crash can also lead to two different types of court cases for an alleged drunk driver.

While the United States Constitution forbids double jeopardy in criminal matters. Yet, a drunk driver facing the two different kinds of cases discussed here doesn’t fall under that umbrella. This is because the two cases have different purposes: one takes place in criminal court, and the other takes place in civil court.

Both cases are independent of each other

Criminal and civil cases are independent of each other. This means that the outcome of one case doesn’t depend on the outcome of the other. Instead, each case has to be handled separately.

A criminal case focuses on punishing a person for doing wrong. The standard for a conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt” for these cases. This is a much stricter standard than the standard for a civil case. In a civil case, the requirement is that the complainant must show by the “preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant’s actions led to the injuries of the complainant.

Outcomes can vary

If a person is found guilty of the criminal charges and liable in the civil case, they can incur penalties for both. This could mean time in prison, fines, alcohol classes and monetary awards. The penalties of each case don’t impact the penalties in the other.

The way each case is handled can vary greatly because of the nature of them. Having different defense strategies is critical so they can be tailored to the factors that will matter during the case at hand.

Defendants should work with a legal representative who can assist them with developing a strategy for each of these cases. Because these matters are so complex, and given all that is at stake, it’s best for defendants to get started on these cases as quickly as possible.