DUI Accidents-Whose Fault is it Anyway?
When a person is involved in a traffic accident and the police smell alcohol on their breath, judgements are made and the police often jump to the conclusion that the accident was caused by the person to be prosecuted for DUI. This is not always the case. It is possible to be driving while under the influence of alcohol and be the victim of a road traffic accident caused by someone else's negligent driving.
In these circumstances, it is imperative that the court understands the defendants account of events and is presented with evidence that the accident was caused by the other party even if that person was sober. An accident can significantly increase the penalties for a DUI, particularly if personal injuries are caused. It is not fair to punish a defendant in this way if the accident was genuinely not their fault. Sometimes, particularly if the defendant is facing a felony DUI prosecution based on an accident, early contact with an accident reconstruction expert can be important. Witnesses should always be interviewed seperately. Often witness comments in a police report can be inaccurate. I recently interviewed a witness to a collison who allegedly told the police that my client was driving at night without her lights on. It turned out that she had not witnessed the accident at all, but had seen the aftermath and at that time, my clients vehicle did not have its lights on. This was explainable as my client had turned off her headlights after the accident.
The criminal court has the power to order a person convicted of a DUI to pay restitution to the victim. As part of any plea bargain, the court often expects a defendant to stipulate to liability for the accident. Obviously, if the accident was the other drivers fault, or a least partly the other drivers fault, no stipulation should be given and the issue of restitution must be challenged at a restitution hearing.
If you have been involved in a DUI accident, it is more important than ever that you consult with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer with experience in this area. Please call Gold & Witham for a free consultation.