Des Moines Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

A drunk driving accident can leave victims with not only physical injuries but also emotional and financial burdens. The drunk driver may face criminal DUI charges, but you, too, may seek justice and compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other damages through a civil action.

A Des Moines drunk driving accident lawyer from Hope Law Firm can explain your options for financial compensation during a free consultation. 

Why Choose Hope Law Firm for Your Des Moines Drunk Driving Accident

Andrew L. Hope, Personal Injury Lawyer

The personal injury lawyers at the Hope Law Firm are rooted in their commitment to providing aggressive, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal representation to residents in Des Moines and throughout Iowa.

Our legal team is well-versed in the nuances of cases involving injuries from vehicle accidents, including those caused by the negligence of drunk drivers. This experience is crucial for navigating the complex legal landscape and ensuring your claim is handled with the skill and diligence it deserves. 

We offer exceptional litigation experience and a proven track record of success. Our Des Moines personal injury attorneys have over 125 years of combined legal experience, having conducted more than 100 bench and jury trials in State and Federal Courts across Iowa, and successfully mediated and resolved over 1,000 disputes. Through the years, we have recovered tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for injured Iowans.

We understand the complexities of drunk driving accident cases and are equipped to handle them with care and professionalism. Contact us today for your free and confidential consultation. Let us explain how we can help you. 

Iowa Drunk Driving Laws

Iowa law prohibits anyone from driving if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of:

  • 0.08% or higher for drivers 21 years of age or older
  • 0.02% or higher for drivers under 21 
  • 0.04% for drivers of vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL)

Even if a driver doesn’t have a BAC that exceeds the legal limit, they may still face DUI charges in certain circumstances. 

Personal Injury Claims vs. Criminal DUI Charges

Personal injury claims and criminal DUI charges are two distinct legal processes that can arise from incidents involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They serve different purposes and operate within different legal frameworks. Here's an overview of each:

Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims fall under civil law. They are actions taken by victims (or their families) who have been injured or suffered losses due to another party's negligence, which can include DUI incidents. The goal is to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.

Scott-Lyon, personal injury lawyer

The focus of a drunk driving accident claim is on proving the defendant's negligence led to the injuries or losses. If the driver was under the influence, it could be a significant factor in establishing negligence. However, the plaintiff must show how this negligence caused the harm they suffered.

If successful, the claim may result in financial compensation awarded to the victim. This does not include punitive actions against the defendant but rather aims to restore the financial state of the victim as much as possible.

The standard of proof is "preponderance of the evidence," which is lower than in criminal cases. The plaintiff needs to show that it is more likely than not that their claims are true.

Criminal DUI Charges

Criminal charges for DUI are brought by the state (or federal) government against the individual accused of driving under the influence. These cases are intended to punish the offending driver and deter future violations.

2019-personal injury

If convicted, the defendant may face fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, community service, and even imprisonment. Criminal cases generally do not award damages to accident victims and their families.  

The standard of proof in criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is higher than in civil cases. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was indeed driving under the influence to such an extent that there is no reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury or judge.

A criminal conviction for DUI becomes part of the individual's criminal record, which can have long-lasting effects on employment, insurance rates, and more.

Relationship Between the Two

While personal injury claims and criminal DUI charges are separate legal matters, they can be related. For example, a conviction in a criminal DUI case can be used as evidence of negligence in a related personal injury claim.

However, a person may face a personal injury lawsuit for a DUI incident even if they are not convicted in criminal court due to the different standards of proof required in civil vs. criminal proceedings.

Who Can I Sue in a Des Moines Drunk Driving Case?

In a Des Moines drunk driving accident case, you have several potential parties you can sue, depending on the specific circumstances of yourpersonal injury case.

Consult a personal injury attorney familiar with Iowa law to get advice tailored to your situation.

Generally, possible parties to sue include:

Female driver consuming beer while operating vehicle, violating laws against drinking and driving.
  • The Drunk Driver: The most direct party responsible for the accident is the drunk driver themselves. Under Iowa law, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a clear violation of traffic laws, and those found guilty can be held liable for any damages caused by their negligence.
  • The Bar or Restaurant (Dram Shop Claims): Iowa's dram shop laws allow you to sue an establishment if you can prove that they served alcohol to the person who caused your accident, and the person was either visibly intoxicated at the time they were served or they were served a sufficient quantity of alcohol that the establishment knew or should have known would lead to intoxication. Proving a dram shop claim requires specific evidence, so it's important to work with a lawyer familiar with these types of cases.
  • Social Hosts: Unlike some states, Iowa does not have a specific social host liability law that broadly holds party hosts liable for serving alcohol to guests who then cause a DUI accident. However, there may be circumstances under which a host could be held responsible, especially if alcohol is provided to a minor. Legal strategies in these cases can be complex and require thorough investigation.
  • Vehicle Owner: In certain situations, the owner of the vehicle driven by the intoxicated person may be held liable, especially if they knowingly allowed an impaired individual to drive their vehicle. This is known as negligent entrustment.
  • Employers: If the drunk driver was working and within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident (for example, driving a company vehicle), the employer might also be held liable under certain conditions.

Each case is unique, and the specific details of the accident will determine who can be held liable. An attorney can help you understand the nuances of your case, including the investigation of the drunk driver's actions before the accident (like where they were drinking and how they obtained alcohol), which can be crucial in establishing liability. 

What Compensation is Available in a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?

Victims of drunk driving accidents may be entitled to various forms of compensation, depending on the specifics of their case.

Here's an overview of the types of compensation commonly available:

  • Medical Expenses: Costs for emergency treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, ongoing care, and any future medical treatments related to the injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Lost Income: Compensation for the income lost due to time off work while recovering from injuries. This also includes loss of earning capacity if the victim is unable to return to their previous job or work at the same earning level because of their injuries.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace your vehicle and any personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident. This includes both past and future pain and suffering.
  • Emotional Distress: Compensation for psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from the accident.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the inability to enjoy hobbies and other activities that were part of the victim's life before the accident.
  • Loss of Consortium: Compensation awarded to the spouse or family members of the victim for the loss of companionship, affection, and support.

Punitive Damages

Katie M. Naset, Personal injury attorney

In some cases, a court may award punitive damages. These damages are not meant to compensate the victim but rather to punish the wrongdoer for particularly reckless behavior (such as driving while severely intoxicated) and to deter similar conduct in the future. 

Wrongful Death and Survivor's Claims

If the drunk driving accident results in death, the victim's family members or estate may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation can include funeral and burial expenses, loss of the deceased's future earnings, loss of companionship, and the survivors' emotional distress.

How Can a Lawyer Help with My Des Moines Drunk Driving Accident Case?


Having a lawyer assist with your Des Moines drunk driving accident case can be incredibly beneficial for a variety of reasons. An experienced attorney can navigate the complexities of Iowa law and ensure that your rights are protected while you focus on recovery. Here’s how a lawyer can help:

A lawyer can provide crucial guidance on state-specific laws that will affect your case, such as Iowa's dram shop laws or statutes of limitations for personal injury claims. They can guide you through the legal processes, including filing insurance claims, negotiating settlements, and pursuing litigation if necessary.

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

Lawyers often conduct thorough investigations to gather evidence that supports their claims. This can include visiting the accident scene, collecting police and accident reports, and securing surveillance footage. They might enlist the help of accident reconstruction experts, medical professionals, and economic experts to strengthen your case and provide testimony on your behalf.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Attorneys are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies, which can be challenging for individuals to handle on their own. They understand the tactics insurers might use to minimize payouts and can fight for a fair settlement. A lawyer can accurately calculate the full extent of your damages, including current and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, to ensure you receive adequate compensation.

If negotiations cannot reach a fair settlement, a lawyer will represent you in court, presenting your case to a judge or jury to seek the compensation you deserve. Throughout the legal process, your lawyer will act as your advocate, representing your best interests and fighting for your rights.

Emotional Support and Efficiency


Having a lawyer take care of the legal details can provide peace of mind, allowing you to focus on recovery. Legal professionals can expedite the process, handling paperwork, meeting deadlines, and making the necessary legal arguments on your behalf, potentially leading to a quicker resolution of your case.

Contingency Fee Basis

The personal injury lawyers at Hope Law Firm work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case or settle. This arrangement aligns their interests with yours and ensures they are motivated to get the best possible outcome for you.

Contact the Des Moines Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at Hope Law Firm Today

Lauren Whitt, Des Moines Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Choosing the right legal representation after a drunk driving accident is a pivotal step toward securing justice and compensation for your injuries and losses. With the Hope Law Firm's proven track record of aggressive, knowledgeable, and compassionate advocacy for their clients, you can trust that your case will be handled with the utmost care and professionalism. 

Our commitment to accessibility, affordability, and unwavering support offers a beacon of hope during what can be an incredibly challenging time in your life.
If you need experienced legal counsel in Des Moines to navigate the complexities of a drunk driving accident claim, contact us at (712) 424-4673 or through our online form to discuss your case during a free consultation.

Hope Law Firm - Des Moines Office

Address: 666 Walnut St Suite 2220
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (712) 424-4673