If the Drunk Driver Who Hit You is Acquitted of DUI, Can You Still Sue Them Civilly in South Carolina?

January 24, 2020

Imagine you’re driving your family home from the local mall. You have your three kids in the back and your spouse in the seat next to you. You’re driving the speed limit and follow all the rules. It’s only 9 p.m. so you don’t think you have to worry about people out drinking and driving. The bars are open for another 3-4 hours, right? The next thing you know, someone comes barreling toward you at about 70 mph. They plow into you, killing your children instantly and leaving you and your spouse paralyzed for the rest of your life.

The other driver was going the wrong way on a busy highway because they had been drinking for hours. When the police arrive on the scene, the other driver – who wasn’t injured – has a blood alcohol level of .17 – more than twice the legal limit. They don’t even bother with a field sobriety test because the other driver can’t even stand up when they get out of the car. They’re immediately arrested and charged with DUI.

You get the medical treatment you need and try to pick up the pieces. You know you’ll never get over the accident but you do your best to put one foot in front of the other. You call and talk to an experienced car wreck lawyer in Columbia, South Carolina. They assure you they’ll do whatever they can to get your family justice. Then, a week later, you hear that the defendant in your case was acquitted of drunk driving. What do you do? Does this mean you can’t go after them for damages? Not at all. This just means your attorney will have to work a bit harder to prove they were at fault.

Why Would the Defendant Be Acquitted of DUI in the First Place?

It can be really frustrating to find out that the person who hit you was acquitted of DUI. If they had such a high blood alcohol content, why would they be acquitted? There are lots of reasons why this could happen, including:

  • There was a problem with the breathalyzer test or the machine used to measure their blood alcohol content.
  • Their attorney proves that the field sobriety test was not administered properly
  • Their lawyer finds a hole in the state’s evidence
  • They plead to a lesser charge such as reckless driving

While this may make you angry – after all, they should pay for what they did – it doesn’t mean you can’t sue. If your lawyer can prove that the other driver was negligent, then you can still receive damages for your injuries. And, using evidence collected at the traffic stop and accident investigation can help them do this.

While it would be easier to have proof that they were convicted of DUI, it’s not necessary to prove your case. Your Columbia car accident attorney will gather as much evidence as possible to prove the other driver was at fault. And, even if they weren’t convicted, when a jury hears that their BAC was twice the legal limit? They’ll almost certainly find in your favor. Your attorney knows this. They know that, just because the breathalyzer tests wasn’t enough to convict them beyond a reasonable doubt – that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to prove your case.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Columbia Right Away

Hopefully, you aren’t in the situation of the couple described at the beginning of your article. Let’s presume that you’re a victim in a drunk driving accident. You did suffer serious injuries and may not be able to work again. However, you didn’t lose your family members and you are not paralyzed. Still, the last thing you want to hear is that the person who hit you got off without any consequences.

This is when it’s time to call and talk to one of our Columbia drunk driving injury attorneys. We can review your case and find another way to hold the defendant liable. Call and schedule an appointment with our office. We can sit down and let you know what we need to do to get you the compensation you deserve. Even if the defendant is acquitted of DUI, that doesn’t mean you won’t have a legitimate claim for damages.

Your first meeting with our office costs you nothing. And, you don’t pay a dime until you win or settle your case.