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What if a Drunk Driver is Not Convicted After a Miami DUI Crash?

Drunk driving has plagued US roadways for decades, yet motorists continue to get behind the wheel of a car after consuming too much alcohol. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reports that officers make almost 34,000 arrests statewide for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), and more than 3,700 of these cases arise in South Florida. Police are always on the lookout for motorists who are swerving, driving erratically, and exhibiting other indications of intoxication. 

However, a drunk driving arrest can also result from a DUI accident, since officers will conduct an investigation when arriving on the scene. When their probe turns up sufficient information to charge and/or convict the other driver, you probably assume you have an open-shut case to recover compensation if you were injured in a crash caused by that driver. The legal issues are not quite so simple, so rely on a Miami drunk driving accidents attorney to assist with your remedies. You can also gain some insight by reviewing answers to common questions about DUI crashes in Florida.

What are the differences between a civil and criminal case after a drunk driving accident? 

In short, punishment is the goal of drunk driving criminal cases, while the point of DUI civil cases is to compensate injured victims for their losses. Both types of cases can stem from the same incident, but they are entirely separate proceedings. Note that:

  • The government is the plaintiff in a criminal case, but the injured victim is the plaintiff in a civil case.
  • To prevail, you need to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence; the burden is much higher for the prosecutor, who must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • A conviction in a DUI case does NOT automatically prove a civil claim after a drunk driving accident.

Is an arrest the same as a conviction?

No, an arrest only means that someone has been charged with a crime. Police only need probable cause to arrest, which is a much lower standard than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. It is very possible to be charged with DUI, but then have the charges dismissed or get an acquittal at trial.

How does the verdict in a criminal case affect an auto crash claim? 

Regardless of whether the at-fault party is convicted, proof in a DUI accident civil case is the same as any other motor vehicle crash. You need to prove that the at-fault motorist caused the accident by breaching the duty to drive safely. Consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of a car is evidence of the breach of duty, even if the at-fault driver is never convicted. When the person is found guilty, the conviction is powerful evidence in your favor.

Our Miami Car Accidents Lawyers Can Provide More Information

If you have additional questions about DUI accidents in Florida, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to obtain answers and details about the legal process. You can set up a no-cost case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
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