Drunk drivers cause a lot of accidents with injuries and death.  What are the steps taken by the criminal justice system to make them pay? Just because you were in a wreck does not automatically mean there will be DUI charges.

If you have been the victim of a drunk driver you should expect to have a conference with the State Attorney within a few weeks after the wreck.  He represents the State, not you, but might be able  to indirectly help you.  During the interview with the victim, the State Attorney will ask basic questions about the accident, and should also find out how seriously you were hurt.  If you have evidence to show him, bring it to the conference.  He will want copies of your hospital and doctors’ bills, photographs of your injuries and some idea of your injuries.  If you have wage losses then let him know about them too.

Once the State Attorney hears all of the evidence he will make a decision about whether to charge the suspect with  DUI, or maybe reckless driving instead. The State Attorney will be getting toxicology information from the lab based on blood alcohol or other chemical tests done shortly after the wreck.  He will know for example whether the suspect has a bad driving record, including prior DUI arrests and convictions.

So how does this help the victim?  The state of Florida has adopted important victim’s rights legislation which gives  victims of  crimes the right to know about all of the important stages of the criminal prosecution.  You might be able to get a suspect to agree to pay you restitution for the losses you have as part of any plea deal.  The State Attorney is not a collection agency for victims, but should be willing to at least keep you informed.  The victim has the right to go to the sentencing and tell the judge and the Defendant what he did to you, and how much it means for him to be sent away or pay restitution.

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