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I was hit by a drunk driver. What types of penalties can he face?

When Connecticut motorists fail field sobriety and blood alcohol tests and are convicted of drunk driving, they can face hefty fines, license suspension and even jail time. Driving under the influence is typically a misdemeanor, but when it causes an injury accident, the penalties become enhanced. A DUI can become a felony charge and mean stricter penalties for the drunk driver.

Under Connecticut law, a drunk driving accident that causes serious injuries is called second degree assault with a motor vehicle. A serious injury is one that disfigures the victim, causes the loss of a limb or organ, results in physical impairment or is life-threatening. So, while a bruise or laceration may not qualify as a serious injury, an amputated leg or head injury certainly would.

The penalties for causing such a car accident are strict. The drunk driver may face up to five years in prison and may also be fined up to $5,000. Once the driver is released from prison, he or she will be unable to drive for one year. After that suspension period is over, he or she will only be allowed to drive vehicles with an ignition interlock device installed for a two-year period.

Simply being hit by a drunk driver may not constitute a felony DUI, especially if there are no injuries involved. However, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit and seek financial recovery for any damages. You will need evidence of the driver's negligence, such as witness accounts and police reports. Although a civil suit will not result in criminal charges, it can help a drunk driving accident victim and his or her family seek closure and receive financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Source: FindLaw, "Drunk Driving Sentencing," accessed Aug. 31, 2014

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