Drinking and driving is one of the most reckless behaviors anyone can engage in behind the wheel. While the driver is at risk of getting into a crash that could cause him or her to suffer severe or fatal injuries, the driver could also cause others to suffer severe or fatal injuries.
That is why a drunk driving conviction carries severe penalties – we discuss these penalties below. However, it is important to note that these penalties are not going to provide the compensation you need for medical expenses, wrongful death damages if you lost a loved one, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Sometimes victims of criminal activity receive restitution, but this is unlikely to cover all your damages.
This is the reason why you need to find an experienced Lafayette auto accident lawyer to help you. Drunk driving victims are allowed to pursue a civil case while the drunk driver goes through the criminal justice system. Your damages could be significant and last a lifetime. Without compensation you may be unable to get the medical treatment you need. Your quality of life could also be negatively affected.
What are the Criminal Penalties for Drunk Driving?
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. If a driver gets arrested for breaking this law, he or she could spend between 10 days and six months in jail and face fines between $300 and $1,000. It is also possible for the offender’s driver’s license to be suspended if the offender is placed on probation.
If the judge decides to place the driver on probation instead of a 10 day to six-month jail sentence, the offender could still spend two days in jail. The judge may require the driver to complete 32 hours of community service instead of going to jail. Drivers may also be required to complete a substance abuse program and driver improvement program.
The penalties increase significantly for each subsequent offense. For example, a second offense could result in a prison sentence between 30 days and six months. The judge may also give the offender a choice between 48 hours and 15 days in jail or completing 240 hours of community service. If this happens, the driver will also be required to complete a driver improvement program and substance abuse program.
The third offense could result in a prison sentence between one to five years and a $2,000 fine.
There are also penalties specifically for failing a chemical test of your blood alcohol level. The first offense will result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension. The second offense will result in a one-year suspension of your license.
Can DUI Crash Victims Receive Restitution from the Driver?
In Louisiana, it may be possible to obtain restitution for your pecuniary losses related to a criminal prosecution. Pecuniary losses are economic losses that can be quantified, like medical expenses, lost earnings, property damage and more.
If a criminal court finds that you have incurred losses because of the defendant’s conduct, which is the reason for the prosecution, the court can order restitution as part of the defendant’s sentence.
However, it may be difficult to obtain some or all the money the court ordered the defendant to pay. The defendant might not be able to pay, or he or she might decide not to pay. If the court finds the defendant does not have the ability to pay, it may set up a payment plan. However, you might need to take action to get the defendant to make payments.
That is why DUI crash victims should meet with an injury attorney to discuss a potential civil claim to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. If you have a valid claim, you will be seeking compensation from the liable driver’s insurance policy and/or your own insurance policy. You will not be hoping for an individual to pay for your damages, you will be seeking compensation from an insurance company that has the money to pay you.
Are Punitive Damages Available for Drunk Driving Crash Victims?
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases, but there may be a better chance of obtaining punitive damages in a drunk driving case. Punitive damages are meant as punishment for the egregious actions of the defendant. They are not connected to losses you suffered.
In Louisiana, drunk driving crash victims may be able to recover punitive damages if they can establish:
- The driver who caused the crash was intoxicated or had taken enough drugs or alcohol to cause him or her to lose control of physical or mental faculties
- The drunk driver’s wanton, reckless disregard for others’ safety while operating a motor vehicle caused you to get injured
This is another reason why you should find an experienced attorney to represent you. The attorneys at our firm are committed to seeking maximum compensation. We can discuss legal options with you and if you hire our firm, we are ready to manage every step of the legal process on your behalf.
Galloway Jefcoat is Ready to Help. Call Us to Learn More
If you were injured in a car crash in Louisiana, we are here to help you determine your legal options. We know how devastating many car crash injuries can be, not only to your health but also to your finances and quality of life.
We are committed to pursuing all the compensation you need for the damages caused by your injuries. Our services come with no financial risk, as there are no upfront fees, and the initial consultation is free.
Have legal questions? We have answers. Call: (337) 984-8020.