AV Preeminent
Best Law Firms
Best Lawyers
Super Lawyers

Civil vs. Criminal Charges in New Hampshire DUI Accidents

January 26, 2023

Driving Under the Influence (DUI), also known as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), can lead to serious bodily injury or even death. These senseless accidents are especially tragic because they are often preventable. If a driver simply refrained from operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the accident may have never occurred. Due to the reckless nature of these accidents, intoxicated drivers who cause bodily harm often face both criminal and civil responsibility for their actions.

Recently, a news article reported that an intoxicated driver is facing criminal charges after an accident in Unity, New Hampshire. After receiving a call about a car accident, state troopers arrived at the scene and found that a vehicle had crashed into a tree. The driver had fled. A police investigation revealed that immediately before the crash, the driver had passed another vehicle on a double yellow line, causing the vehicle to crash. Later, police found the driver, who refused to cooperate with the investigation, and determined he was under the influence. He now faces charges of driving while intoxicated, conduct after an accident, reckless operation of his vehicle, and disobeying an officer.

What are the Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, a person who drives under the influence and causes an accident resulting in serious bodily harm is guilty of an aggravated DWI. If convicted, the person will face a minimum of $750 in fines and a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 days in a county prison. Upon release from prison, the person must undergo a substance use disorder evaluation and comply with the resulting service plan to treat the person’s substance abuse. The fact that drivers may face criminal fines for a DWI does not preclude injured victims from suing drivers for the harm they suffered. In addition to criminal charges, an injured plaintiff can bring a negligence lawsuit against the driver in civil court.

How Are Civil and Criminal DUI Cases Different?

Plaintiffs who bring a lawsuit after someone commits a crime should be aware of several important differences between civil and criminal cases. First, the burden of proof—the standard for imposing responsibility on the defendant—is much higher in criminal cases. Specifically, the prosecution must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for the jury to convict the defendant of the crime. In other words, the jury cannot find the defendant guilty unless they are certain of the defendant’s responsibility for the incident. On the other hand, the burden of proof in civil cases is “more likely than not,” also known as the “preponderance of the evidence.” To hold a defendant liable for damages, the plaintiff only needs to show it is more than 50% likely that the defendant is responsible for the plaintiff’s harm.

Have You Been Injured in a New Hampshire DUI Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New Hampshire DUI accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates to discuss your case. Our New Hampshire personal injury attorneys possess years of experience handling complex damages claims involving motor vehicle accidents and many other practice areas. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office today at 800-804-2004 or reach out through our website.