Drunk drivers in Arizona may face criminal charges and a civil case in some cases. What’s the difference between a civil drunk driving case and a criminal one?
For one thing, the state government brings criminal charges to punish drivers for breaking the law. Civil cases, on the other hand, allow another person injured by the drunk driver to seek compensation for their financial losses.
You can learn more about these cases with a Phoenix drunk driving accident lawyer from our team at Zanes Law. We’re ready to answer your questions when you call or fill out our online contact form.
One of the primary differences between civil and criminal drunk driving cases involves who brings these claims. The government – led by the district attorney in this matter – decides whether or not to bring criminal charges against a drunk driver.
Individuals struck by a drunk driver, on the other hand, have a legal right to file a civil claim that can bring them compensation. In some cases, injured individuals work with the district attorney during a criminal case.
Generally, the district attorney’s office handles criminal prosecution of drunk drivers. These lawyers decide on the charges the drunk driver faces and stand against defense attorneys in court.
Typically, injured individuals do not pay the prosecution to take on a case because they work for the government.
However, personal injury lawyers in Phoenix who handle civil cases work on a contingency basis. They charge legal fees for their services but only receive payment for these services after resolving a claim.
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The civil and criminal court systems aim for different results when handling drunk driving accident cases.
The criminal court system prosecutes crimes. Driving under the influence (DUI) is against the law in Arizona, even if the drunk driver avoids an accident. Driving drunk and causing an accident represents a more serious criminal charge.
If the prosecution proves that a driver caused a wreck while intoxicated, the at-fault driver may face jail time, fines, and the suspension of their driver’s license. They may face additional penalties in some cases.
Civil courts in Arizona do not have the authority to send someone to jail or remove their driving privileges. Instead, the civil court system can order the drunk driver to pay compensation to an injured party.
A car accident lawyer in Phoenix can help you file a civil claim to seek damages for your:
In rare cases, the civil court system may award you with punitive damages as a way to punish the at-fault driver. However, most drivers do not receive this form of compensation.
Civil and criminal cases both have a burden of proof. The plaintiff must meet this burden to resolve a claim successfully.
The criminal court system requires the prosecution to prove fault beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond doubt that the drunk driver caused an accident and injury.
The civil court system has a lower burden of proof. You may secure compensation through the civil system if your lawyer provides a preponderance of evidence that the drunk driver caused your accident and financial losses, even if some doubt remains.
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The civil and criminal court systems operate independently of one another in Arizona. The conviction of a drunk driver in criminal court does not necessarily mean you would win a civil case against the same driver, for example.
However, a personal injury lawyer may use the results of a criminal case to demonstrate the other driver’s level of fault in some situations. You can learn more about both court systems and their role in the justice system by contacting our team for help.
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What’s the difference between a civil drunk driving case and a criminal one? These cases go through different court systems, have different results, and require different standards of proof to secure a judgment in your favor.
You can learn more about civil drunk driving accident cases with our team at Zanes Law. We’re ready to help you seek compensation for your losses when you call or fill out our online contact form.
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