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Do criminal charges prevent you from suing a drunk driver?

Drunk driving is a very irresponsible decision, and it is also clearly against the law. The person who causes a drunk driving crash can face multiple different kinds of consequences.

For example, if they cause a crash that resulted in property damage or injuries to another person, those affected by the crash could bring a civil lawsuit against them. The state may also pursue criminal charges against the driver.

Will the prosecution of a drunk driver who injured you or one of your loved ones prevent you from taking civil action against that irresponsible driver?

Civil consequences occur separately from criminal consequences

Many people have heard about the legal concept of double jeopardy. They know that someone shouldn’t face penalties twice for the same criminal offense.

Some people misinterpret that concept, which originated in the U.S. Constitution, and believe it prohibits them from filing a civil lawsuit. They might think that a drunk driving conviction or even an unsuccessful charge prevents them from filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Double jeopardy protections only apply to prosecution by government entities for the same criminal act. They do not protect someone from facing civil consequences after already facing criminal consequences for the same incident.

If anything, criminal charges against the drunk driver can strengthen your claim in civil court. If the state convicts them or they plead guilty, that will make it much easier for you to prove that they engaged in wrongful conduct that affected your family. Knowing your rights after a Connecticut drunk driving crash can help you pursue justice for your family.

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