Do Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers Happen in Criminal or Civil Court?

Civil vs. Criminal Proceedings: Lawsuits Against Drunk Drivers Who Cause Car Accidents

Impaired drivers who cause drunk driving accidents may face both criminal and civil court proceedings. 

Criminal proceedings are designed to punish the offender for breaking the law and to protect the public by acting as a deterrent against impaired driving. Driving drunk can result in criminal prosecution even if there was no accident and/or no one was injured.

Civil proceedings against an impaired driver typically come in the form of a claim or lawsuit against the drunk driver for injuries caused by the drunk driving collision.  Fatal drunk driving crashes can result in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of the victim.  In many cases a civil suit may be the only way to recover damages such as medical treatment costs, lost wages, damaged property, other economic damages and pain and suffering.