The usual damage in your average, run-of-the-mill, DUI is to your ego, reputation, and pocket book. Sometimes, however, driving under the influence can cause damage to the property of another person or persons. If your DUI involves an accident, you may have to pay to compensate for damage caused to others. This is called restitution.
California law allows victims of crime who suffer economic loss to recover that loss. When this happens, the court may have a restitution hearing to determine if and how much a defendant will pay to compensate for damage caused by his or her DUI. The prosecutor will calculate an amount based on bills, receipts, and other evidence that may establish the victim’s out-of-pocket economic loss. The defendant or his defense attorney has the opportunity to dispute the amount at the restitution hearing. I recently represented a defendant at a DUI restitution hearing where the victim was claiming that the value of his, now totaled, vehicle was more than what it was listed at in Kelley Blue Book. The prosecutor didn’t dispute the Blue Book price and the amount the defendant was ordered to pay was considerably less. In a separate case, the defendant crashed his vehicle into a stop sign while driving drunk. The victim in this case was the city in which the collision took place. Unfortunately, there is no Kelley Blue Book for traffic signs and the defendant had to pay several thousands of dollars. Once the hearing is held and an amount of restitution established, paying the restitution will become a condition of probation. If the defendant fails to pay restitution, it may result in a probation violation.