DUI Collisions and Sentencing
Many DUI incidents involve traffic collisions where one or more of the drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers who were involved in DUI collisions often ask about how the collision will affect any potential DUI sentencing. Judges and prosecutors are concerned about DUI incidents that result in collisions and often will impose additional penalties under these circumstances.DUI Collisions and Restitution
When a driver is arrested and charged with a DUI offense involving a collision, the law requires that the defendant be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for any and all damages. If the prosecution dismisses any counts as part of a plea agreement, the Court will take a “Harvey waiver” which would require the defendant to pay restitution on any counts that have been dismissed.
In many cases, the defendant’s auto insurance policy will cover some or all of the victim’s damages. However, the defendant would be responsible for paying for any out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance, including the victim’s deductible. Even if the defendant settled with the insurance company but still is claiming damages in excess of the settlement, the defendant may be ordered to pay this additional amount in restitution.The Restitution Hearing
Sometime after sentencing, the Court will set a date to address any existing restitution claims. The prosecution will reach out to the victim and determine how much restitution is being sought. The defendant can stipulate to the amount owed or can challenge the restitution amount by requesting a restitution hearing. All victims would have to provide evidence regarding their claims, including bills from doctors, repair shops or any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred. The defense can cross-examine the victim and can present testimony as well.
Ultimately, the judge will determine how much restitution is owed. The defendant can pay the entire amount in full or can be put on a payment plan where he or she would pay the victim a specified amount each month. The Court may order an ability to pay hearing in which the defendant would have to disclose his or her income and expenses and the Judge would set a monthly payment amount.Failure to Pay Restitution
A defendant’s willful failure to pay restitution to the victim may be considered a probation violation and result in additional penalties or even revocation of probation. A probation violation must be willful, which means that a defendant’s failure to pay because of limited funds or inability to pay would not result in additional penalties. If the defendant is unable to pay restitution during the term of probation, the probation period may be extended until the defendant is able to pay the victim off in full. If the defendant is still unable to pay the full amount at the end of the extended term, the Court may convert the unpaid restitution amount to a judgement that could be levied against the defendant’s assets or future income.Additional DUI Collision Penalties
The Court may impose additional penalties on defendants who are convicted of DUI offenses involving collisions. The Court may require that the defendant complete additional community labor or community service hours. The defendant may be required to complete the Hospital and Morgue (“HAM”) program that takes the defendant on a tour of a local hospital emergency room and a local morgue to see the results of DUI driving. The defendant may also be required to complete the MADD Victim Impact Program (“VIP”).
If you have been charged with a DUI offense involving a collision, it is critical that you speak with a knowledgeable DUI attorney immediately. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to effectively litigate DUI cases.
For more information about DUI collisions sentencing and to schedule your free consultation, Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.