DUI Involving an Accident

Interviewer: What if an accident occurred? Will there be restitution issues?

Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, absolutely. That’s another thing that the person will have to look at closely. If the driver was found to be under the influence, they are going to be responsible for it. That’s without question. They call it strict liability. That driver is going to be responsible for all of the damages done to the other person or property and if that damage exceeds the limits of their policy coverage, then the person that’s injured can certainly go after their personal assets and hold them personally accountable beyond the limits of the insurance policy.

That’s a potential there, too. If you’re in an accident involving a DUI, you caused half a million dollars worth of damage and you only have a $250,000 insurance policy, then you might be on the hook for anything beyond what your insurance is willing to cover. It could be expensive that way. Is that what you were getting at?

Interviewer: As far as that goes, what numbers are we looking at in that regard, as far as starting amount? So far we’ve thrown out close to $10,000, but if you’re including an accident, what could someone be facing here moneywise?

Matthew Nebeker: I would say that a minimum might be $25,000 to $50,000. Those costs are adding up quickly when you are talking about a person that you may have injured in an accident, so those expenses and costs could escalate very quickly if someone is injured.

Court-Mandated Classes & Panels

Interviewer: You mentioned earlier something about classes someone may be required to attend. How much are those?

Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, in Utah, after any DUI, alcohol- or drug-related driving offense conviction, the state law says the person has to go through an assessment and treatment. The assessments, from what I’ve seen around here, usually cost around $250 to $300, and then the person will have to follow the recommendations of the assessment and the bare minimum that the law provides for is a 16-hour course. They call it a PRIME For Life course and that’s usually another $300 to $400.

Now, if the assessment and the people that do it believe that the person has a pretty significant problem and they need more treatment, then that can go on for a year. They could be in counseling once a week for a year trying to get to a point where the counselors believe that they’ve achieved all the treatment that they need. I’ve seen it on some cases where they recommend inpatient treatment, so you’re talking 20 or 30 days in a facility, away from their job, away from their family, and paying those costs; those are into the thousands of dollars also.

If you don’t have health insurance or benefits through somewhere to help cover those costs, then that’s a lot of money just to be coming out of your pocket because you need inpatient treatment. Definitely there are a lot of costs and expenses just in the treatment component of a DUI conviction.

Interviewer: The other thing I heard about in regard to that was costs that include donations to some organizations as well, like panels or something like that.

Matthew Nebeker: Yes, that is correct. A lot of courts will order the driver to participate in a victim impact panel and that’s basically a group that’s been organized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and they go and they listen to people who have been victims of drunk drivers, like the one that’s gotten hurt in the car accident by the drunk driver and things like that. Victim impact panels can cost $150 to $200 and those are court-ordered a lot of times. That’s another consequence or cost of a DUI.

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