Drunk drivers are undeniably perilous on the road, as the impairing effects of alcohol and drugs can drastically hinder their ability to react swiftly and perceive their surroundings accurately. Despite the widespread awareness of the risks involved, some individuals still choose to operate vehicles under the influence. However, the repercussions of their actions can be catastrophic, altering lives irrevocably. In the event of injury caused by a drunk driver, individuals may seek compensation to alleviate the financial burdens incurred, such as medical expenses and lost income. In Texas, DUI cases entail both criminal and civil consequences. Criminal penalties can include fines, license suspension, and even incarceration, while civil repercussions may involve compensatory damages paid to the victims. If you find yourself in such a situation, seeking the expertise of a DUI lawyer in Dallas can provide invaluable guidance and representation throughout the legal process.

Is DUI A Civil or Criminal Case In Texas

A DUI can get you in trouble with both criminal and civil law. Criminal law deals with breaking laws set by the state, like driving drunk, which can lead to criminal charges.


If a DUI causes harm to someone, that person can sue the drunk driver in civil court to get money for their injuries. But if no one is hurt, there won’t be a civil case, only a criminal one because the law was still broken.

Types of DUI Cases in Texas

In Texas, driving under the influence (DUI) can get you in trouble with both criminal and civil laws. Every state has rules for punishing DUI drivers criminally. For example, if a driver gets pulled over for driving badly and their blood alcohol level is too high, they could face criminal charges. This can happen even if they didn’t crash into anyone. But if a DUI causes someone else to get hurt, the victim can sue the drunk driver in civil court to get money for their injuries. So, the person who caused the accident might have to deal with two separate cases – one in criminal court and one in civil court.

How Texas Handles DUI Cases in Criminal Court

In criminal cases, the state takes legal action against the person accused of DUI. If the case goes to trial, a prosecutor from the state presents the case against the drunk driver in court. To prove a DUI, the prosecutor must show three things:

1) The person drove a vehicle.
2) The vehicle was motorized

3) The person was drunk or on drugs when they drove the vehicle.

The prosecutor must prove these points without a doubt. If they succeed, the defendant could go to jail, pay hefty fines, or lose their driving privileges. If someone injured in the accident sues the drunk driver in civil court, the criminal conviction can be used as proof in the civil trial that the driver was guilty of DUI at the time of the crash.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit for a DUI

In civil lawsuits, it’s between two people, not the state. If someone gets hurt, they can sue the drunk driver to get money for their losses. If the driver is found guilty, they have to pay the injured person money. DUI civil cases usually go like this:

The Victim Files the Claim

First, the victim decides if they want to sue the person who caused the accident. Civil cases can take a lot of time and be stressful, so it’s smart to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Houston first. If the lawyer thinks you have a good case, they’ll assist you in filing the necessary paperwork with the civil court.

Determining How Much Compensation You Require

Calculating the value of your claim is a long process in a DUI civil lawsuit. Victims can usually get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and emotional suffering caused by the drunk driver. If your injuries need ongoing care, you can include future expenses in your calculations. Your attorney can help you figure out a fair amount that covers all your losses.

Negotiating a Favorable Settlement

Not every civil lawsuit goes to trial. Many times, the two sides agree on a settlement before going to court. Your lawyer will look at your case and decide the best plan. For example, they might bring in another defendant, like a bar that served too much alcohol. Whatever happens, your lawyer will work to get you the compensation you need to move forward.

Civil Drunk Driving

In a civil drunk driving lawsuit, it’s not the state that files the case, but the person harmed by the drunk driver. You decide if you want to file a claim or not. Usually, you need to hire your own lawyer for this type of lawsuit.

If the defendant is found responsible, they won’t go to jail. Instead, they have to pay for damages to the injured person, like medical bills or emotional suffering. Sometimes, the court might also make them pay punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant.

In a civil case, the burden of proof is easier to meet compared to a criminal case. The plaintiff’s lawyer just needs to show that it’s more likely than not that the defendant is responsible, not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

One challenge in civil cases is if the defendant doesn’t have money to pay damages. To solve this, lawyers might target the defendant’s insurance or go after other parties, like the bar that served the drunk driver or the company that made a faulty product. This way, they increase the chances of getting compensation for their client.


1. Is DUI considered a civil or criminal case in Texas?

DUI can result in both criminal and civil consequences in Texas. Criminal charges are brought by the state for violating laws, while civil lawsuits are filed by individuals seeking compensation for injuries caused by a DUI.

2. What are the different types of DUI cases in Texas?

In Texas, DUI cases can involve both criminal charges and civil lawsuits. Criminal charges are enforced by the state and can result from driving under the influence, even without causing harm. Civil lawsuits arise when a DUI leads to injuries, allowing victims to seek compensation

3. How does Texas handle DUI cases in criminal court?

In criminal court, the state prosecutes individuals accused of DUI. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated. If convicted, defendants may face jail time, fines, or license suspension. A criminal conviction can also be used as evidence in civil lawsuits.

4. What is involved in filing a civil lawsuit for a DUI?


In civil lawsuits, victims of DUI-related accidents can sue the drunk driver for damages. This involves filing a claim, determining compensation for losses like medical bills and lost wages, and negotiating a settlement. If the defendant is found liable, they must pay the victim compensation.

5. Is a civil drunk driving lawsuit filed by the state or the individual harmed?

Civil drunk driving lawsuits are filed by the individual harmed by the drunk driver, not the state. Victims decide whether to pursue legal action and often hire their own lawyers to represent them in court.

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