Some individuals who drive after drinking will cause an accident, and that can bring up some serious charges. Additional criminal charges beyond the basic drunk driving charges are common if there is an injury or death associated with an accident caused by a drunk driver.
A police officer who observes behavior that is consistent with drunk driving can pull a driver over based on probable cause, or a reasonable suspicion that the driver is inebriated. The officer can then test the driver for intoxication. If you are in an accident, however, that alone can automatically meet the qualifications necessary to pursue a drunk driving investigation.
After an accident, you might be asked to take a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration percentage, or BAC. The information provided by the breathalyzer can determine what type of charges you face. If the reading shows a BAC of .08 percent (or .02 percent if you can't legally drink) you will likely face criminal charges -- but the charges may be enhanced due to the accident.
You might also have to contend with a civil lawsuit. Victims of the accident, or the loved ones they left behind if the crash was fatal, have the option of seeking compensation for the damages they have to deal with due to the incident. This means that you could end up having to defend yourself in both a criminal and a civil suit at the same time.
If you are charged, it is imperative that you start working on the defense you plan to use quickly in order to best protect your rights. It may even be necessary to work with more than one attorney if you face a civil lawsuit as well as the criminal charges.