Ten Things You Should Do After a DUI-Related Accident
Protect your rights and assist those who may be injured.
Imagine it’s the moments after a traffic accident. You are sitting behind the wheel (or perhaps behind a deflating airbag). Maybe another car is involved as well. Perhaps you had something to drink prior to the accident. What should you do? Here are ten tips:
- Call for emergency medical assistance, if necessary. Is anyone hurt? Report as best as you can on the status of those with injuries.
- Report the accident. Some state laws require that all accidents involving substantial property damage or physical injury be reported. Whether or not your state law requires it, it’s a good idea to call 911.
- Avoid making any oral or written statements to police officers. If you are the suspected cause of the accident and a DUI is suspected, you may wish to consult an attorney before making a statement to police.
- Cooperate with testing (or not). Of course, you are free to not take a chemical/breath or field sobriety test. There is no legal punishment for refusing a field sobriety test (horizontal gaze, walk and turn, standing on one leg). But you will be ticketed for noncompliance and subject to administrative and criminal penalties for refusing a chemical or breath test.
- Avoid making any oral or written statements to witnesses or victims. Even statements like “I’m sorry” can come back to haunt a defendant, because in court they can sound like admissions of wrongdoing. (Laws in some states exclude expressions of regret from evidence. Judges may do so on their own in states that don’t have such laws.)
- Get names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential witnesses. This is especially true if you feel you were not at fault, since that information may not be in the police report.
- Take pictures. If you have a camera (or a cell phone with camera functionality), take pictures of the vehicle and accident scene.
- Write down your own version of what happened. Note the date and time of the writing (perhaps also mailing a copy of the statement to themselves in order to retain a postmark with the date on it). At the top of any such statement, you should write “Confidential: Attorney-Client Privileged,” and not show the document to anyone except your attorney (assuming you use one).
- Don’t leave the scene. This is especially true if there is a victim or another vehicle is involved. This may trigger a claim of felony hit and run.
- Find property owners. If you strike an unattended vehicle or damage private property, attempt to determine who owns the vehicle or property.
Follow the links below to learn more about DUI-related accidents.