Call 24/7 (405) 232-1985
When Do Car Accident Cases Go from Civil to Criminal?

After a car accident, it’s common for both police and attorneys to be involved. And one or more of the drivers involved in the crash may be cited for breaking laws, such as failure to stop, speeding, texting while driving, and more. And if one of the victims wants compensation, they may need the help of an experienced Oklahoma car accident attorney.

But after some crashes, the police investigation changes from simply determining who was at fault and which traffic laws were violated to a more serious matter of determining if more serious laws were broken. In these situations, police are primarily interested in pressing misdemeanor or even felony charges against the at-fault driver rather than simply assigning fault for the crash.

If Someone Was Driving Under the Influence

A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in Oklahoma is one of the most severe misdemeanors on the books. In addition, a person who is charged with DUI for a second time within 10 years of their first conviction can be charged with a felony. Anytime someone is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs after a crash, there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll be considered at fault for the crash.

But for most drivers convicted of DUI, a civil lawsuit is the least of their worries. The penalties for even a first-time DUI are steep in Oklahoma. Convicted drivers may have their licenses suspended for six months, be sentenced to anywhere from 10 days to one year in jail, and be fined up to $1,000. All told, the amount of money that a single DUI can cost a driver can easily add up to $10,000 or more when you factor in court costs, attorney fees, and impound fees.

If Someone Was Fleeing from Police

Seeing a police car or state trooper’s cruiser with flashing blue lights and a blaring siren behind your vehicle means you need to pull over as soon as you can safely do so. But sometimes, drivers don’t pull over, and instead, they try to escape. Running from the police is a serious charge, and if it results in an injury-causing accident, drivers can be charged with a felony.

People who are convicted of eluding the police and who also cause crashes that injure others face prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up $5,000.

If Someone Left the Scene Before Police Arrived

When an at-fault driver leaves the scene of a crash before police arrive or before they even speak with the other driver, they can be charged with a hit-and-run. Almost all crashes in Oklahoma must be reported to police, and all involved parties must remain at the crash scenes until police arrive and complete their accident reports. Leaving before this can result in criminal charges, which can be more severe if anyone was injured or killed.

If Someone Was Driving Maliciously or Aggressively

Road rage is a real phenomenon that costs many lives in Oklahoma and throughout the U.S. every year. When drivers lose control over their emotions and seek to harm others with their vehicles, they can and should be punished. People who engage in extremely aggressive and malicious driving can seriously injure or even kill others, and they can be charged with assault with a motor vehicle.

If Someone Dies as a Result of the Crash

Although most injury-causing crashes are civil matters that may also involve minor traffic law violations, crashes that involve a death are almost always more heavily scrutinized, and the at-fault party is much more likely to face criminal charges. Even minor traffic violations that result in fatal accidents can cause at-fault drivers to be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, while more severe violations such as DUI or speeding that result in a fatal crash can cause drivers to be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.

Our Oklahoma City Auto Accident Lawyers Will Protect Your Rights to Compensation

Although a driver being charged with a criminal offense after a crash can boost your chances of getting compensation, it doesn’t guarantee it. That’s because civil cases and criminal cases are separate matters entirely. For example, a defendant may be acquitted in civil court and convicted in criminal court, and vice versa. That’s why it’s still important to have an experienced law firm on your side to help you maximize your chances of getting compensation.

Contact Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. It’s our goal to help you get every penny you’re owed for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.