Damaging Property While Driving under the Influence
Accidents do not always have to involve other vehicles. An accident can happen with an entirely stationary object, such as a street sign, mailbox or even a tree. Property damage happens for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, the property needs to be replaced or repaired by the person at fault, and any additional consequences are minimal. However, if the incident happened because the driver of the vehicle was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the repercussions are more severe.
When Cause Matters
DUI consequences are harsh, carrying a life-long impact. However, with the inclusion of property damages or personal injuries the penalties can double in severity. Additionally, the cause of the property damage carries variable outcomes. If the incident was avoidable if behavior had been different, the penalty is higher. Let us explore the variances of property damage.
- Property Damage: The single charge of property damage occurs when, while driving, you accidentally strike someone else’s property, such as a fence, lamp post, or mailbox. The proper insurance covers property damage, so repairs are claimable. Otherwise, you can offer to pay for repairs or a judge can order you to pay. Typically, jail time is not necessary.
- Criminal Mischief: Vandalism can be proven when the property became damaged due to intentional or reckless behavior. This activity has consequences beginning at a level of three months in jail and a $500.00 fine, all the way to five years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine, and probation.
- DUI Property Damage: The first offense can lead to one year of incarceration and a $1,000.00 fine. Punitive damages can amount to up to three times the amount of the property damages. This penalty is not covered by the property damage option in car insurance policies. The behavior of DUI is considered reckless and therefore is punishable as a higher level of criminal mischief.
Options for Defense
Every circumstance is different requiring a new defensive strategy for every case. Even if you believe you are guilty and see no way around punishment, it is not advisable to just “give up.” Everyone makes mistakes and deserves another chance. Our goal is to keep the record of our client clean. Therefore, prosecution will have to fight to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were driving the car: Do they have witnesses? How credible are these witnesses?
- The accuracy of any tests taken: Being physically and emotionally shaken after an accident alters test results. Additionally, there is scientific evidence that the deployment of airbags may alter the factors of a DUI after the deployment.
Possibilities exist that restitution payments may inspire even the harshest prosecution to drop charges. Additionally, reduction of the accusation is negotiable. Defensive strategies are boundless and having someone on your side who has experience negotiating situations such as yours can make a positive difference in your future. If you are interested in exploring the possibilities with a Stamford, CT DUI defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner at 203-348-5846 to schedule your free initial consultation.