When you are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or something else, and have an accident, you have two problems to worry about: the criminal charges you will receive, and also the civil liability for persons and property that were injured or damaged in the accident. You should be clear on the ways you could be considered impaired while driving, so you can avoid being responsible for an accident.
Impairment means something has caused your judgment, reflexes, or physical abilities to deteriorate. While certainly you can be impaired by alcohol, there are other things you might do that can affect your driving ability which could result in charges and liability. These include:
Driving under the influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is driving with a blood alcohol level that is at or above the legal limits in the state you are in (usually 0.08). Each state has laws about other types of impairment as well, and Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) is one name for this type of charge.
When it comes to alcohol, you can still be charged while under the legal limit, if it is evident that your driving skills were impaired, and this often results from mixing drugs (whether legal or illegal) with drinking. Some states also have "zero tolerance" for drivers who are under the age of 21 who have consumed any alcohol at all.
The degree of your charge(s) could go from a misdemeanor to a felony or you could face additional charges if the following conditions are present:
If your accident caused the death of another, you could be charged with a high degree felony impaired driving charge that could result in several years of incarceration, or you could also be charged with manslaughter along with impaired driving.
If you cause significant property damage to another, or you injure/kill someone in the accident, you will be open to civil liability. You become liable not for impairment itself, but the fact that your impairment resulted in negligence while driving. This means you failed in your responsibility to drive safely, and did something that contributed to the resulting accident.
It gets worse: if the other party is successful in receiving an award, you would not be able to discharge this in bankruptcy. You also may not be able to get your driver's license reinstated until you have made arrangements (and keep them) to pay your victim(s) or have completely paid off the judgment.
Impairment is anything that impedes your ability to be a safe and careful driver. Driving while impaired and having an accident can result in criminal charges which can increase in severity with the amount of damage you have caused, or with the number of similar offenses you have been convicted of. You can also be sued by your victims if they are injured or suffer property damage.
If you have received a impaired driver charge, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney through resources such as Russ Jones Attorney At Law.
When I was younger, I had a hard time following the rules. I got in with a bad group of friends, and I found myself in juvenile detention more than a few times. When I was sixteen, a teacher sat me down and explained where my life was leading. That teacher was the first person that believed in me, and I decided not to let him down. That day, I decided to change my life, and I did. Because of his sound advice, I was able to finish high school, get into a great college, and become a criminal attorney. I understand the uphill battle that troubled youth face, and I want to use this website to teach other people what they need to do to turn things around.