If you recently let a trusted friend or family member borrow your car, it probably didn’t seem like a big deal—until that friend was charged with a DUI. At this point, you might be wondering about the legal and financial consequences you could face. The exact ramifications will depend on your particular case, but they typically reflect the events surrounding the DUI arrest, as well as your level of involvement in the incident.
A DUI usually carries penalties like large fines, jail time, and alcohol education courses for the person who was convicted (in this case, your friend). Your friend’s charge will not affect your own driving record. For people who have loaned their car to someone who was then charged with a DUI, it’s very rare to face criminal penalties. As an extreme example, let’s say you purposefully encouraged or forced your friend to drive while intoxicated, and then your friend was arrested on felony DUI charges. In that case, you could conceivably be charged as an accessory, though it’s not a sure thing. In a more likely scenario, if you knew your friend was drunk and still let them drive your car, you could face a reckless endangerment charge.
If your friend was in a car accident, you could be held civilly responsible. The plaintiff would normally have to prove that you were negligent in some way. For instance, the other party might try to show that you knew, or should have known, that your friend would likely use your car in a reckless or dangerous way. If you knew your friend had a previous DUI, seemed intoxicated when you loaned the car, or has been inclined to drink and drive in the past, you may be on the hook for “negligent entrustment.” Alternatively, if you are an employer and let an employee drive your car, the plaintiff could raise the issue of “vicarious liability.” In either of these cases, you could be found liable for the damages caused by the driver.
Aside from legal penalties, you may face the following financial consequences after your friend gets a DUI in your car:
- If your car was seized, you’ll have to find the impound lot where it was taken and pay the fees to get it back. Act quickly, because these costs go up on a daily basis.
- You may also be responsible for towing fees if your car was seized.
- If your friend was involved in an accident, and you have to pay for damage to your car or someone else’s car with insurance, your insurance rates will likely go up significantly.
If your friend was charged with a DUI without getting into an accident, it’s probably safe to say that you only need to worry about your wallet. The likelihood of legal penalties goes up if you knew your friend was driving while intoxicated, or if your friend was involved in an accident. Still, when in doubt, it’s safer to contact a DUI attorney. The lawyers at Savannah DUI will thoroughly assess your case and help you anticipate any legal problems. Call us to have extensive legal experience on your side.