Drunk driving is a criminal action that must be avoided when possible. What some people might not think about when they are discussing impaired driving is that car crashes can happen when drivers aren't able to operate the vehicle in a safe manner. This severely complicates DWI charges.
The circumstances of the accident can impact what happens after the wreck. Being involved in an accident when you are impaired can lead to more criminal charges than what might be possible if there isn't a car crash as well. In the most basic drunk driving case, you face considerable fines, time in prison, the loss of your driver's license and other consequences.
How do officers determine if alcohol was involved?
Police officers are trained to look at the evidence in the crash to determine whether a driver might have been impaired. Things like a driver slurring their words, having a smell of alcohol on their breath or having open alcohol containers in the vehicle are all signs that the person is drunk. In some cases, the driver's behavior before the crash provides a glimpse into what's going on.
Merely having an accident is a valid reason for the police officer to perform chemical testing to determine each driver's blood alcohol concentration percentage. In some cases, the officers ask you to do a field sobriety test to determine whether you need to undergo chemical testing.
Does the presence of alcohol impact what happens after the crash?
If there are injuries or a death because of the accident, you are likely going to face enhanced criminal charges. These can mean that you are looking at long terms of imprisonment, as well as considerable fines. In the case of a death, you may face manslaughter charges. Other criminal charges are possible.
You may face a civil lawsuit from the victim or the victim's family members. This can be difficult because the criminal case and the civil case aren't dependent on each other and you will have to handle each one in a different manner. This means that you will have to work on two defense strategies at the same time.