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All states use the blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 as a measure for determining whether a person is impaired by the alcohol he or she has consumed. BAC is based on a variety of factors, including the person’s weight, genetic makeup, and gender. Even if a person’s BAC is lower than .08, that person may still be too drunk to drive. A driver’s reaction times to unexpected events can be affected by alcohol, and erratic driving can result.

People who are charged with drunk driving and are acquitted in criminal court might be surprised to find themselves still liable for damages in civil court if they injured anyone while driving drunk. The criminal and civil justice systems are separate and use different standards of proof. Civil courts’ requirements are more stringent than those of criminal courts.

We understand if this is a little confusing. Not everyone is an expert on how this all plays out. To help you understand this better, we thought it would be useful to put together a brief discussion on this subject. If you’re interested in learning more about this, read on as we discuss what you need to know about drunk driving accidents and lawsuits.

How Do Damages Work In a Drunk Driving Case?

In any car crash case, both parties may be compensated for economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include past and future medical bills and lost wages, while non-economic losses are those intangible losses from pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or even the loss of a sense of security.

Plaintiffs typically request punitive damages in cases of egregious wrongdoing by wealthy corporate defendants. However, when a driver is drunk, a victim could sue for punitive damages when the driver pled guilty or was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). The purpose of punitive damages in such a case is to impose a penalty that is harsh enough to deter the driver from driving under the influence again.

How Do DUI Charges Impact a Drunk Driver Lawsuit?

Your personal injury claim against a drunk driver is a civil matter that is separate from a criminal DUI. Your attorney does not need to wait for the outcome of the DUI to proceed with the civil matter, though he or she will monitor it. You can take compensation for your injuries while the driver deals with the DUI charge.

Can Drunk Drivers Be Sued?

If a drunk driver caused an accident in which you were injured, you could sue the driver for personal injury. Evidence of the driver’s intoxication and any other traffic violations will help you prove negligence. Once you establish negligence and show how it caused your own injuries, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

When Should You Sue a Drunk Driver?

When you’re injured in a drunk driving accident, the first step is to file a claim with your insurance company. The Personal Injury Protection coverage will pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Then, the other driver’s insurance coverage should kick in. Unfortunately, the minimum coverage limits might not be enough to cover all of your injuries.

Filing a lawsuit after a car accident is appropriate if your insurer doesn’t pay for enough of your loss. This includes property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s also a good idea to file if the other driver was uninsured or if your insurance company denies your claim. If you’re unsure of whether to file a lawsuit, talk with an attorney. We also highly recommend you speak with an attorney before accepting an offer from the other driver’s insurance company. Many offers are significantly lower than what the case is really worth.


We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you gain a better understanding of how to take legal action if you’re ever involved in a drunk driving incident. While we certainly hope you never find yourself in this situation, it’s best to keep everything you’ve learned here in mind so you’ll know how to best navigate the incident if you’re ever involved in an accident.

Are you looking for an accident attorney in San Antonio, Texas? Harper Law Firm is committed to guiding you through your toughest injury claims. Give us a call today!