In California, when a legally intoxicated driver is involved in a traffic crash, a criminal court can order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. The victim is entitled to compensation for property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. In DUI-related accident and injury cases, California criminal courts impose payment of restitution as a part or condition of probation. Restitution orders require a defendant to pay the victim a pre-determined amount calculated by the prosecutor’s office, a victim assistance program, or the county’s probation department.

In criminal law, the restitution amount is determined by the actual losses the victim can establish with documentary evidence. Thus, the amount of the restitution order is the amount owed the victim as a result of actual losses caused by the defendant’s DUI-related criminal conduct. A victim who incurs professional fees (for lawyers and investigators, for example) is also entitled to recover those fees as part of the restitution. Assuming the defendant is insured, his or her insurance company typically compensates the victim, ending the restitution matter as far as the criminal court is concerned. Restitution orders cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.

Sometimes, a victim claims an amount above the insurance settlement figure. The criminal court is not limited by the insurance settlement, and it may require additional restitution to the victim if the claim is reasonable. The defendant is entitled to credit for any amount already paid by his insurance company. In some cases a defendant will have no insurance or insufficient insurance, or a victim may have additional losses not covered by insurance. If so, the victim may also file a personal injury claim against the defendant.

If you are accused in any DUI-related accident in southern California, you’re going to need counsel and representation from an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. A good DUI defense lawyer will honestly explain how the law impacts your case and will fight aggressively for the best possible outcome. If you face any DUI-related charge in southern California – now or in the future – get immediate legal help. Consult an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney promptly.