If you hit a car in which the driver is arrested for DWI, is he responsible at all even if the accident wasyour fault?

UPDATED: Dec 26, 2011

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If you hit a car in which the driver is arrested for DWI, is he responsible at all even if the accident wasyour fault?

Asked on December 26, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Civil liability--having to pay money for damages or injuries--is different from criminal liability; it possible to be arrested for a crime and not be civilly liable, and vice versa.

Civil liability for a car accident depends on fault. Normally, the DUI/DWI driver would be deemed at fault; but is possible that the non-DUI driver was at fault, instead or in addition, such as if the DUI car was either stopped or driving safely when the non-DUI driver, driving carelessly (e.g. too fast; on the cell phone or texting; going through a red light or stop light) hit him.

Whomever was at fault is potentially liable to pay; if both drivers are at fault, damages are usually apportioned in some fashion.

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