DUI Accidents In Maryland: Comparing Criminal And Civil Cases
Drunk driving is illegal in all US states for a reason: An impaired motorist is more likely to cause a serious DUI accident, so making it a crime is the deterrent. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore the law and the safety risks. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MD DOT) reports that there are almost 6,700 drunk driving crashes in the state every year, leading to more than 160 deaths and 3,125 injured victims. More than 1,300 of the total DUI accidents statewide occur in the Baltimore area, and around 450 of them cause a fatality or injuries to at least one person.
While drunk driving is a crime, it also causes significant losses to victims when it results in a crash. You may qualify to recover compensation after a DUI collision, but your rights are separate from the criminal case. An Owings Mills drunk driving accident lawyer will pursue your legal remedies, but a comparison of the two different proceedings is useful.
Outcomes in Criminal v. Civil Cases: A good start for understanding your rights is knowing a key distinction between these cases:
- The government is the plaintiff in a drunk driving criminal case, and the point is to convict the defendant of a crime. If found guilty, the defendant driver could be sentenced to jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension as punishment.
- In a civil case for a DUI accident, the injured victim is the plaintiff who is seeking compensation for her losses, not punishment. It might give you some closure to see the drunk driver convicted, but the criminal case does not pay money damages.
Burdens of Proof: Many people ask whether they can still recover compensation if the at-fault motorist did not receive a DUI ticket or was not convicted of drunk driving. The answer is yes, because there are different burdens for criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case, the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – the highest burden in the US judicial system.
A civil case is subject to a lower standard: You must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely so that not so, that the at-fault motorist failed to drive safely. A ticket or conviction for DUI is helpful as evidence, but other proof may be sufficient for this lower burden.
Damages for Victims of DUI Crashes: Compensation aims to make a victim whole after an accident, at least as much as practically possible. You could qualify to recover amounts for medical costs, including hospitalization, emergency care, and surgery. You might also seek damages for losses that affect your quality of life, such as pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Speak to a Maryland DUI Accident Attorney About Next Steps
Your losses as the victim of a drunk driving crash are significant, so pursuing your legal remedies is a priority. To learn how our team can assist, please contact Furman | Honick Law. You can set up a free consultation at our offices in Owings Mills or Baltimore by calling 410-844-6000 or visiting our website. Once we review your situation, a lawyer can advise you on the process.