Injured and Accused of DWI? Can you make a Claim?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Sat Sep 2016
It’s an interesting question. What if you are injured in a car crash and also accused of DWI? What if the accident wasn’t your fault at all? Can you make a claim? The answer might astound you.
Let’s start with the story of Pete Johnston. He caught up with some friends at the local bar. He admits that he had a few beers. Pete was feeling a bit tipsy, but didn’t consider himself drunk. Since it was just a few short blocks to his home, Pete didn’t see any harm in getting behind the wheel.
As Pete was stopped at a red light waiting to turn onto his street, the unthinkable happened. From out of nowhere, a car travelling at a high rate of speed rammed into the rear of Pete’s vehicle. The impact was so intense that the airbags went off.
Despite wearing his seatbelt, Pete was injured in the accident. When emergency personnel came to the scene, they detected the odor of alcohol on his breath. The accident was obviously not caused by any wrongdoing on Pete’s part. Why should this even be an issue?
Driving While Intoxicated Can Negate Your Personal Injury Claim
We told you Pete’s story for a reason. There does not seem any dispute that Pete was not responsible for the accident. However, if he is accused of drunk driving, Pete is facing a few problems.
First, the obvious one. Driving while intoxicated is a serious legal issue. Since the accident involved personal injury, it will likely be referred to the superior court. (DWI matters are considered motor vehicle offenses and heard in municipal court, absent injury or death).
An experienced DWI lawyer will recognize the importance of defending the DWI charge. According to the law, a party can be found guilty of this offense if their blood alcohol concentration level is found to be in excess of .08%.
However, it is not just the penalties associated with the DWI conviction that are important in this case. When someone is convicted of driving while intoxicated, they cannot make a personal injury claim. Even if the accident was not their fault at all.
We turn to another part of the law regarding a party’s right to sue. It states that if a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to driving while under the influence, they have no right to sue for losses related to the accident. The statute doesn’t address whether intoxication was a contributory factor. It’s a blanket negation regarding the right to sue.