Being involved in a car accident caused by the reckless actions of a drunk driver is a life-altering event that no amount of money can repair. Much of the property damage done, however, can be very expensive to fix, as can medical bills for any injuries incurred. When a drunk driver is caught and proceeds through the court system, there are many different sentences that may be applied depending on the severity of the crash, the impact on victims, and whether the incident is a first or subsequent DUI charge.
What Is Restitution?
A driver convicted of a DUI offense in Arizona may face a sentence that includes jail time, fines, fees, and restitution. Focusing on the last portion, restitution, the court system in a criminal case focuses on the victim rather than the drunk driver. Restitution is a sum of money that the defendant gets the order to pay the victim of his or her crime, opposite to a fee, which is money that a defendant must pay to the state, federal, or local government that is prosecuting the crime.
Restitution should not confuse with other types of damages that allow for payments for pain and suffering, as these types of damages are only available in civil cases. However, that someone who gets injuries in a car accident may also bring a suit against a reckless driver in civil court to recover the full amount of damages.
Calculating and Collecting Restitution
The restitution amount, in addition to the fines associated with a DUI, is calculated by a court based on the damages incurred by the victim of the drunk driver. This amount is likely to include the costs of repairing and/or replacing the victim’s car, lost wages, and any other actual monetary amount that the victim lost because of the drunk driver’s careless actions.
What many do not know about restitution orders is that the judgment cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding, may convert to a civil judgment and enforce via wage garnishment, or even extend a defendant’s probationary period by up to five additional years until they pay the restitution amount. Additionally, a restitution order can even survive the death of a defendant and be enforceable against his or her estate. Arizona law does not take restitution payments lightly, and while a defendant will not be forced to pay more than he or she can afford per month, these payments will not cease until they pay the entire balance.
Restitution is one part that makes up a criminal sentence for a driver convicted of a DUI in Arizona. As Arizona’s DUI laws are some of the strictest in the nation, a criminal setting imposes the sentence, and the damages available to victims in a civil setting are high in order to deter future drunk driving.
If a car accident injures you, the professionals at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC can help provide you with all the legal options. Especially all the options that are available to you so that you are prepared for the road to recovery.