DUI Auto Accidents

Causing a Car Accident While DUI

When a person is accused of causing an auto accident while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may face serious criminal charges. In many states, it is a misdemeanor to cause a car accident that results in property damage and a felony to cause a car accident that results in serious bodily injury or death, if the driver is found to have been intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the accident.

There are two primary types of criminal charges associated with DUI auto accidents (though the specific terminology and penalties may vary depending on the state in which the alleged offense occurred):

DUI Causing Injury
Causing serious bodily injury to another person while DUI is most often charged as a felony. A driver may face years in state prison, depending on the extent of injury and whether more than one person was injured.

Vehicular Manslaughter/Homicide
Vehicular manslaughter is the most serious type of DUI-related offense a driver may be accused of committing. Although the driver did not intentionally cause the death of another person, the fact that he or she was driving under the influence and caused a fatal car accident may be enough to result in felony charges for vehicular manslaughter or homicide. Read more about vehicular manslaughter.

What penalties may I face if convicted?

Depending upon the extent of property damage and bodily injury that the accident caused, a person facing DUI charges in conjunction with an auto accident may face jail time, fines, driver's license suspension and even years in state prison. Specific penalties will vary depending upon the state where the offense occurred, the defendant's criminal record and the particular circumstances surrounding the accident.

Just because a driver was driving under the influence and was involved in a car accident, this does not necessarily mean that the driver caused the accident. To secure a conviction for vehicular manslaughter or DUI causing injury, a prosecuting attorney must prove that the driver had an unlawful blood alcohol concentration or had abilities that were impaired by alcohol or drugs, and that the driver caused the accident.

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