Car accidents typically fall in the realm of civil claims, unless wrongful death occurs. However, a person could also face criminal charges if they were intoxicated while driving, which is how a civil claim becomes a West Palm Beach DUI investigation. While this can seem complicated, a skilled DUI lawyer could help you navigate the DUI investigation process. Speak with an attorney today and know that you are in capable hands.
How a Car Accident Investigation Becomes a DUI Criminal Investigation
When an officer is investigating a car accident, the parties involved have an obligation to report the crash. They must answer questions about the accident because it has been determined that it is a matter of public interest. Because a person is compelled to answer questions about the crash, their answers to those questions are privilege, and it is addressed by the accident report privilege. During the course of questioning, the officer might notice that the driver seems impaired which is how a civil claim becomes a West Palm Beach DUI investigation.
When the officer wants to change a crash investigation to a criminal investigation, the officer must perform the changing of hats. Changing hats means informing the person that they were speaking to that they have completed their crash investigation and are going to begin performing a DUI investigation. The police may want to read the person their Miranda rights and make the individual aware that they have the right to remain silent.
Tests to Detect Impairment
While sobriety tests are one of the first steps that law enforcement might take during a DUI stop, it is hard for them to perform a physical sobriety test if the person is injured in an accident. As a result, one of the ways that the police might use to determine intoxication is a physical examination. Signs include:
- Smell of alcohol coming from a person’s mouth
- Slurred or slow speech
- Bloodshot and/or watery eyes
- Flushed complexions
Another way that the police can gauge sobriety is by looking at witness testimony. If an individual witnessed the accident, law enforcement can ask them about the person’s actions prior to and during the accident. If the witness says that they believe the individual was impaired or seemed unaware that they were involved in an accident, they could use that evidence as well as their observations to detect the presence of alcohol.
Aspects of a Criminal Case That Can Be Used in a Civil Case
The evidence in the criminal case is the same evidence that would be used in a civil case. Someone is at fault and there are damages. Any statements made by the defendant can be used in a civil case as well as in the evidence presented in a criminal case can be used in a civil case. The ones that are most damaging to the client will be testimony, any admissions and, of course, a guilty plea. If a person has already pled guilty to a DUI because of an accident, they have admitted that they were drunk driving and caused an accident, the case is over.
Contacting a West Palm Beach DUI Attorney
If you want to know more about how a civil claim becomes a West Palm Beach DUI investigation, contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney that can answer your questions. A lawyer could also conduct their own investigation, collect evidence, and use the evidence to build a solid defense for you. Get in touch with an attorney that could devote the time and resources necessary to build your case.