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DWI Accidents - Legal Repercussions
Free DWI and DUI Article Tips by Doug Smith

A DWI accident (driving while intoxicated) is a vehicle crash involving at least one intoxicated driver when the accident happened. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population will be involved in a DWI accident during their lifetime, either as the cause or as a victim. DWI accidents comprise more than just intoxication by alcohol. Illegal drug use can also result in a DWI accident.

DWI accidents are much more costly in almost every way than DWI situations where no accident is involved. While a non-accident DWI arrest may involve only one vehicle and one driver, a DWI accident involves at least two drivers, two vehicles, property damage, and the potential for severe personal injury and death. Property damage and injuries are not limited to the drivers and their cars. Passengers, pedestrians, and nearby property can be involved as well.

About 40 percent of all U.S. accidents involve DWI. DWI accidents are responsible for more than 17,000 deaths. Intoxicated parties in a DWI accident may be subject to a civil lawsuit. This means they can be sued for costs of the victimís medical expenses, injuries, property damage, loss of potential income, pain and suffering, and other punitive damages.

The minimum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level in many states that is considered to be driving while intoxicated is 0.08%. For minors, any amount of alcohol detected is considered legally intoxicated. Check your state laws to be sure.

DWI is sometimes considered a misdemeanor in the criminal sense (again, check your state laws). If a DWI accident occurs, however, the charges may escalate to a possible felony conviction. If a death results from a DWI accident, vehicular manslaughter is only one of the charges than can be brought against the perpetrator. If a felony is charged, the defendant is subject to fines, incarceration, probation, and mandatory participation in an approved alcohol treatment program. In addition to any criminal and civil penalties incurred, the defendant's DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) may suspend or revoke the defendantís driving privileges if a conviction occurs.

For example, many specialized attorneys take the same classes that law enforcement personnel attend to learn the proper protocols for a field sobriety test. This experience and expertise are invaluable in defending DWI cases, because the lawyers might find procedural errors when cross-examining the arresting officers. Checking for such inconsistencies is key to a successful DWI defense.

If you are involved in a DWI accident, you have the right to consult with an attorney. It is highly recommended that you do so, regardless if you are the defendant or the victim. If possible, seek out an attorney specializing in DWI cases over a court-appointed public defender. DWI attorneys are well-versed in the specific laws and procedures that apply to DWI.

Many DWI attorneys attend the same courses that law enforcement officers attend in order to learn the proper protocol for field sobriety testing. A good DWI defense lawyer can use this invaluable experience and expertise to cross-examine the arresting officers and locate procedural errors. These inconsistencies are key to a successful DWI defense. In some cases, an experienced DWI attorney might even be able to get the DWI accident charges dropped due to improper sobriety tests, arrests, or other errors.

Attorneys specializing in DWI cases can also be invaluable at a DMV hearing. A successful DWI defense of the criminal case may mean the defendant gets a shorter revocation or suspension period of the driverís license. In exceptional circumstances an experienced attorney may even be able to get all charges dropped.

This article is ©2005 by Doug Smith, who provides many free and valuable articles on DWI Accidents. Learn more about DWI arrests, DWI attorneys, your DWI rights, and much more DWI information at This article may be freely reprinted as long as this copyright notice remains intact, the article is unchanged, and all hyperlinks remain active and clickable.

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Did You Know?
  • Field sobriety test - a series of standardized physical motor skills and mental tests performed by police officers who have stopped a suspected drunk driver to better at determining the level of impairment.
  • Whisky or whiskey - an alcoholic beverage distilled from grain, often including malt, which has then been aged in wooden barrels.
  • Car insurance - insurance that may cover both legal liability claims against the driver and loss of or damage to the vehicle itself.
  • Wine - an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting grapes or grape juice.
  • Rental insurance - most rental car companies offer insurance to cover damage to the rental vehicle.

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