Minnesota state statutes are very clear about the legality of driving after drinking. Both those who are over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and those who have difficulty safely operating a vehicle because of chemical impairment, regardless of their BAC, can face criminal prosecution after a traffic stop or a crash.
Police officers may arrest someone at the scene of a collision if they determine that alcohol consumption directly contributed to the wreck. The parties affected by the crash can file an insurance claim, but insurance coverage may not be significant enough to cover the consequences of the collision.
Most people affected by the rule-breaking or negligence of another person have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit if they’ve been hurt themselves or a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one died due another’s conduct. Because the civil courts and the criminal courts are distinct in the U.S., the prosecution of a drunk driver does not prevent someone from seeking justice in this way.
Civil lawsuits do not violate a criminal defendant’s rights
Many people are at least familiar idea of double jeopardy. They know that an individual should not face charges twice for the same criminal incident. However, some people misinterpret the rules about protection from repeat prosecution. They might mistakenly believe that they cannot initiate legal action against someone already prosecuted by the state of Minnesota for the incident that left them hurt or killed a loved one.
Thankfully, double jeopardy rules only apply in scenarios involving government prosecution. Civil consequences are entirely different from criminal prosecution. Regardless of whether the state convicted the drunk driver or not, the people affected by the crash that motorist caused could still potentially file a civil lawsuit successfully, as the standard for evidence in the civil courts is lower.
Instead of giving up when faced with financial hardship related to a drunk driving crash, individuals may benefit from learning more about their legal rights to demand financial justice. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to start.