Restitution is defined as an act of making good, or giving the equivalent for, any loss, damage or injury. Restitution is frequently ordered by judges in DUI cases involving injury or property damage. The amount of restitution is the amount of actual or "out of pocket" losses caused by the DUI driver's conduct. This includes the victim's "economic losses" such as medical bills, including future medical expenses, lost wages and profits, as well as property damage, including automobile, car rental costs, etc. A victim can also recover attorneys fees if they have counsel assist them in collecting restitution. Criminal courts will order payment of restitution by the defendant to the victim as a condition of probation. A victim's "non-economic losses" cannot be recovered by restitution order from a criminal court. These damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of earning capacity. However, a victim can file a civil lawsuit against the DUI driver and seek these damages. A DUI driver is also subject to punitive damages if they are sued in civil court.
If you are convicted of DUI and ordered to pay restitution you still have the right to contest the amount of restitution ordered. The amount ordered must directly relate to the crime that was committed. You should not be required to pay for losses that did not arise or result from the DUI incident. For example, you will not be responsible for damages to the victim's car that were caused by a different accident, even if those repairs are made at the same time that the repairs are made for the damages that you caused. Also, if you have insurance (as required by California law) you will receive credit for any payments made by your insurance company to the victim. Hopefully, the amount paid will satisfy the full amount of the restitution that was ordered. If your insurance only covers some of it, you will be ordered to pay the balance. If you do not have insurance, or insurance does not settle the victim's claims, you will be responsible for paying the full restitution amount. Willful failure to pay restitution, meaning you have the ability to pay but do not, can result in a probation violation and jail sentence. Also, a restitution order is enforceable as a civil judgment, which means that all postjudgment tools available in civil law, such as writs of execution and wage garnishment, are available to collect the restitution amount.
Not only do DUI cases involving injury or property damage carry harsher criminal penalties, if you are convicted you may also have the court enter a restitution award against you. CONTACT Berglund Law Office, P.C. today if you have been arrested for DUI. If you got into a DUI accident you will not want to go to court without the assistance of a good DUI Lawyer. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation.