Civil Suit Considerations in Manassas DUI Cases
For a crash investigation to transition into a DUI investigation, the officers on the scene will need to develop some evidence that one of the drivers has ingested alcohol and may be under the influence. This most commonly occurs when a law enforcement officer has a conversation with someone involved and either detects an odor of alcohol coming from that individual or the individual admits to having had something alcoholic to drink prior to driving.
When this occurs an investigation will often take place and a civil suit may be pursued by the victim to recover any damages from injury or personal property destruction. This makes it important a Manassas DUI lawyer who understands the effect a DUI charge may have on a civil suit is contacted immediatly.
Evidence Used in Civil Suit
Aspects of the criminal case can be used in a civil case. For example, if a person pleads guilty to the DUI charge in their criminal case, that can be used as evidence in a civil case that the person has made an admission of guilt.
In addition, anything that a person says under oath in the course of their criminal case can also be used as evidence in a civil case. For this reason, whenever there is an accident that involves a DUI, it is important for the defense attorney to keep in mind that there may well be a civil case that follows the criminal one. As such an attorney will have to determine which will do the least amount of harm to any civil complaint that the defendant may have to defend in the future.
Impact of a Guilty Plea
The primary consideration when there is potential for a civil claim is the effect that a guilty plea will have on a civil case. While not being conclusive on all of the issues of the civil case, a guilty plea will provide some evidence that the defendant has admitted their guilt. For this reason, it important for the defendant not to plead guilty for their criminal DUI charge if they can avoid it.
In addition to the plea, the attorney will also be wary of any statements made under oath in the course of a criminal trial. These can be repeated at civil court or used to impeach the testimony of the defendant gives in his or her civil trial.
In most cases, Manassas officers will not conduct a breathalyzer test on someone who has been injured in an accident. If a person is injured in an accident, the first duty that the police and emergency personnel have is to render medical assistance to the individual or transport them to a hospital for medical assistance.
Once the medical assistance has been rendered, and the police have probable cause for DUI, they can then direct that a blood test be performed. It is exceedingly rare for a person to be taken to the police station for a breathalyzer test. For any test to be valid, it has to be taken within three hours of when the person was driving. A typical accident case where someone is treated at the hospital, it takes that long to have the individual processed and receive treatment.
If no breathalyzer test is conducted, then they will not have the benefit of any scientific test to present at trial unless a blood test is done. If neither a breath test nor a blood test is done, then evidence of intoxication can be presented to the court by officer testimony. The officer will testify the observed behavior and appearance of the defendant, as well as the results of any field sobriety tests that were administered.