Driving under the influence is one of the most commonly occurring criminal offenses in Minnesota. When you’ve had a few to drink, the alcohol impairs your judgment, and you might make some poor decisions. One of these poor decisions could be to get behind the wheel of a car. The reason why driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is criminalized in Minnesota is because alcohol severely slows your reaction time. Your brain’s ability to process stimuli is delayed, making it extremely difficult to react in time to oncoming traffic, street signs and lights, and other hazards.
Thousands of drunk drivers are involved in alcohol-related accidents each year. Almost 400 of these accidents result in deaths. When a drunk driving crash occurs, the aftermath is akin to that of a typical car accident but also involves a criminal aspect. Normally, when you’re involved in a car accident, you inspect for injuries or damage, notify the authorities, file a police report, contact your insurance company, and either the company pays the victim or fights the compensation claim in court. When a car accident involves alcohol, however, there is usually a DWI arrest. Typically, law enforcement will arrive at the scene of the accident and evaluate the occupants of the cars for injuries. The police officer may suspect you of driving under the influence based on factors such as:
- Liquor bottles or beer bottles in your car
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- You are slurring your words or cannot stand or walk properly
- The other driver’s story of how the crash occurred
If the officer suspects you are intoxicated, he will perform various tests, such as a breathalyzer test that will analyze the alcohol concentration in your breath or a field sobriety test such as standing on one leg. When the officer has probable cause to arrest you for DWI, you will be taken to the police station and then asked to perform an evidentiary blood, urine or breath test. You then will be booked and processed. This is when a DWI crash diverges from a typical car crash.
Many car accidents involve physical injuries that result in temporary or permanent disabilities and exorbitant medical costs. These types of accidents more commonly result in contested litigation over the value of the injuries. Car insurance companies want to minimize the amount they pay victims and will often fight injury claims. If a lawsuit is filed against you and your insurance company following a DWI crash, your criminal case may heavily influence the outcome of the lawsuit.
Many civil lawsuits predicated on criminal behavior will trail the criminal case. This means that the civil lawsuit will be filed but sit, pending, until the criminal case is resolved. If you plead guilty or are convicted, the guilty verdict can be used in the civil lawsuit to prove negligence or recklessness. Car accident lawsuits require that the plaintiff (victim) show that the defendant (drunk driver) was driving negligently and caused the crash. Drunk driving is more than just negligent driving. Proving negligence is much easier when you either admitted you violated the law and drove while drunk or when the jury finds that you were drunk after a trial.
You may feel pressured to plead guilty, especially if you are a first-time offender facing less serious consequences, because you want your criminal case to end as quickly as possible. However, if there is a looming civil lawsuit waiting for the outcome of your DWI case, it is best to consult with an experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyer to craft a plan to fight the charges. To schedule a free consultation with Kans Law Firm LLC, call us today at 952-835-6314.