Being involved in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver is incredibly traumatic and made worse often by the feeling of unfairness as your accident was caused solely by a driver who made the reckless decision to drive while intoxicated. If your accident happened in the state of Arizona, the law will be on your side as the state takes a famously ‘zero-tolerance’ approach meaning if you were the victim of an accident, the courts will likely be in your favor. It can feel very overwhelming to start legal proceedings after an accident- particularly when it could have been avoided so it’s important to understand your rights and the legal journey you will embark on.
Our blog explores why the laws in Arizona side with DUI accident victims and the difference in court settings that can be chosen to represent each individual case, depending on the details of the accident.
The law in Arizona with DUI drivers
Thankfully, due to Arizona’s strict DUI law, the relief that is available to help the victim of the crash depends on whether the remedies are in a civil or a criminal setting. There are two ways in which our legal system in Arizona handles a DUI accident; either in a criminal court which is designed to protect the public- or you as an accident victim- from illegal activity, or via a civil case which looks to compensate victims of individuals who break the law for damages that they incurred because of illegal behavior.
Criminal courts are specifically designed to prevent any kind of illegal activity from happening. For example, if a drink-driver causes an accident and pleaded not guilty to DUI, a criminal court would then work hard to prove that they either did or didn’t then break the law and behave in an illegal manner.
A civil court will defend the victim or person who has been impacted directly by a DUI driver who has already pleaded guilty and therefore acknowledged the illegal behavior and subsequent damages that have happened as a direct result of their own actions.
Civil vs Criminal court- DUI trials
The differences between criminal and civil courts are not only the issue of damages but also the plea; a DUI driver will likely either initially plead guilty or plead not guilty only to be found guilty of a DUI. This scenario is the most common that plays out in criminal courts, as we’ve previously covered, as their initial denial means the law has to then prove the illegal activity happened.
Depending on a number of other factors surrounding the case such as how drunk the driver was when breathalyzed, the damage to the cars and injuries sustained, your legal representative will decide which legal path will best suit your individual case.
If you’re staring down the barrel of a legal case against a DUI and want to understand just how proceedings are going to go why not give us a call on (480) 634-7480. Our team is always happy to answer any questions you may