It’s tough to come to terms with the facts surrounding drunk driving and criminal liability. If you get in a car and don’t get home safe, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with drunken driving charges. But the facts may be even worse than that. After all, it’s not just the state’s fault if you get killed while under the influence.
What about drunk driving in Kauai? It’s not nearly as different from the rest of the country. The laws and the penalties vary from state to state, but in general, there are some basic elements that apply.
First, anyone who is arrested and found guilty of drunken driving will be charged with criminal charges. The law considers drunken driving to be a high-risk crime. In general, people who get drunk and then drive while being impaired (for instance, driving while having any amount of alcohol in their system, even though they aren’t consuming any) will be charged with a felony, regardless of what the legal limit is.
Because there is no such thing as “drunk driving classes” (no charge, no conviction), the accused person will have to face the bar of a courtroom before a judge and jury. The judge will determine whether the accused person was drunk or not. Sometimes, the judge will be asked to make an immediate sentence judgment, making it necessary for the person to appear in court and answer questions, rather than getting home safe immediately.
The law may also require the person to make restitution to any other person (injury victim, a pedestrian injured, etc.) or may require them to make payment for their own medical bills. Regardless of what is required, the person will have to be physically present in court, regardless of whether they have made arrangements to appear on their own.
Once the charges are filed, they may then be tried by a jury. If the jury finds that the person was in fact intoxicated at the time of the accident, they may sentence the person to jail, community service, fines, and restitution. Sometimes, these sentences can be suspended or reduced, if it is determined that the person should be driving in a controlled environment.
Finally, the person may be allowed to present his or her own defense counsel to the jury, if that would benefit them. The accused person will then have to testify to the information the lawyers have presented. A skilled lawyer will not only be able to present his or her own facts and arguments to the jury but may also be able to persuade them to make a different sentence or decide the case on a different standard.