Why Did the Drunk Driver Who Hit You Get Off So Easy?

March 24, 2020

Even in Columbia, South Carolina, where the general outlook on DUIs is pretty negative, the punishments are hardly ever harsh. Drunk drivers get away with quite a lot in terms of not serving jail time and not facing penalties that they should face for their actions. You were hurt by a drunk driver, possibly your passengers were injured as well, and it’s very likely that your car is gone because of the wreck.

Drunk drivers cause more than a fair amount of damage, and often the victim is left wondering why we are so easy on drunk drivers? Take a break, and we’ll help break down the ideas and thought processes behind giving easy sentences for drunk drivers.

If your car wreck was caused by a drunk driver, contact a drunk driving injury attorney right away.

The Court System May Only Put the Drunk Driver at Partial Fault

Being the drunk driver doesn’t automatically put them at fault, and you might have to argue that you’re not at fault. As the victim, it can feel even worse with all that you’re going through to also have to defend yourself, but it’s pretty common. When people get DUIs, they often go out and find an attorney to defend them. As part of their defense, they might argue that the wreck wasn’t even their fault.

When they argue that the crash wasn’t their fault, they might have some sway with the court and even get reduced fines. The trouble is that when they’re convincing, there’s nothing that you can do other than defend yourself. What’s worse is that the criminal charges aren’t something that you have input on. Basically, you can watch their charges unfold, but that’s pretty much it unless you want to take it to a civil court, more on that in a moment.

They may also use mitigating factors to reduce their penalties. One mitigating factor used in North Carolina is that a BAC with .09 or less may give way for prescriptions or even that the person was driving safely. That circles back to the “it’s not my fault” claim.

They May Have Accepted Substance Addiction or Abuse Counseling

Within North Carolina, you can accept 60 days of sobriety monitoring in an effort to reduce penalties or a sentence. While North Carolina has minimum sentences that are different from most states, but they’re not exactly strict.

For example, a level five DUI, which is the lowest level in terms of DUI penalties in North Carolina, is  between 24 hours and 60 days in jail with their night in the drunk tank counting toward that. That level five also comes up with a maximum fine of $200.

Now it’s more likely that the person being drunk and causing a collision will have a level three or four DUI. That could mean penalties between 48 hours to 6 months in jail with fines capping at $1,000.

Against, the mitigating factor of accepting treatment is pretty substantial. Judges will often choose to allow a person to get help for an addiction when they need it rather than slap them with fines. However, from the victim standpoint, a treatment arrangement could seem like a cheap copout.

What Else Can You Do About a Drunk Driver?

Many drunk driving victims start looking for other ways that they can get closure and compensation. Through a civil case, you can pursue punitive damages, as well as full compensation, in addition to whatever penalties they had for their DUI. When it comes to your civil case, you’ll start out with a claim through your insurance.

After submitting your claim, your drunk driving car accident attorney will help you move the case forward to court. For many victims, getting into court with the drunk driver can help cover the ground that you didn’t get into during that person’s DUI charge. You might believe that they got off easy, but it’s also possible that you just need to see the full scope of their outcome too.

Start Your Next Step with a Car Accident Lawyer in Columbia

At Connell Law, you can do whatever is within your power to get some action from the South Carolina state. Although your insurance may still be up in the air on the claim, you can and should involve an automobile accident law firm. With a local Columbia attorney from Connell Law, you can get your case in front of a civil judge who may not be so lenient on the defendant. In turn, you could face the chance of getting punitive awards, but also you can get the satisfaction of speaking for yourself in court.

Connect with us in Columbia at Connell Law to get your case going.