People who drive drunk and cause an accident face both criminal and civil charges for their actions, in addition to any actions by the state’s transportation department to revoke or limit driving privileges. Criminal penalties may include fines, jail time, court-mandated treatment programs and incarceration, depending on the severity of the offense.
Those who were harmed by the drunk driver’s acts also can sue him or her to recover for their losses. These losses can include medical bills, property damage and lost wages, among others. Typically, anyone directly harmed by the driver, such as pedestrians, other motorists and passengers, can bring a civil action. If the accident resulted in a fatality, the family and/or estate of the deceased may bring a wrongful death suit.
Actions against drunk drivers are usually negligence actions. Drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers and other motorists to operate their vehicles safely. Intoxicated drivers are held to this same standard. If a drunk driver breaches his or her duty and injures another person or damages property, the driver can be held liable for his or her actions.
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