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Restitution 101. A San Diego DUI and an accident adds more to the case. Driving under the influence with a collision and restitution issues. DUI with a hit and run issues

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2018 | Firm News |


I was reading the news and came across an article (see below) where someone has to pay $230.000 in restitution to another person as part of a San Diego DUI.

Anytime there is an accident as part of a San Diego DUI case, it aggravates the situation. There is usually more punishment involved.  There are more issues in the case. For more general questions about a San Diego DUI visit my website.  Today, I want to focus on Restitution and its part in a San Diego DUI case.  Call the Law Offices of Mark Deniz now at 858-751-4384 to get the ball rolling on your case.

Many DUI’s involve accidents. If your alleged DUI caused injury, property damage or other losses, you may be forced to pay to compensate the victim(s). Under California law, DUI victims can seek compensation or “restitution” through several different channels and you could face one or all of them. The damages in a DUI accident can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you need to defend yourself. 
Fight the unreasonable

In my years as both prosecutor and defense, restitution usually is an issue only when the “victims” claims are unreasonable.  Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence. Most people who are trying to pay back after a DUI case make it a point that the other party is taken care of.  In most cases, insurance takes care of a majority of the restitution.

I will give you an example:

Pacific Beach on Garnet.   Driver A was looking at their phone and rear ends a car.  No one hurt.  Both cars have minimal/moderate damage.  Officers arrest driver A for DUI.  The DUI case resolves.  Driver As insurance took care of all the bodywork on driver Bs car. However, driver B submits additional claims for loss of business in the amount of $3000.00.  They want $1800.00 because they had to get rides while the car was getting worked on.

First question….is there receipts?  Does that amount seem fair with the given facts?

These are the start of the analysis that needs to be given.  The judge wants this issue resolved often before they conclude a case.  You want to be proactive and take care of any restitution as soon as possible.


In California law “restitution” is used to mean money you are ordered to pay as part of your criminal sentence. No separate lawsuit is required. In this way it is similar to the victim fund, but you can be ordered to pay restitution directly to the victim. If you caused an injury or property damage, you will probably be ordered to pay both.

The amount of the restitution will include:

  • Property damage (to a car, fence, business, etc.)
  • Medical expenses for all injuries
  • Therapy costs related to the accident, if any
  • Lost wages because the injured person was unable to work
  • The victims’ legal costs, if any

The bill can add up quickly. In California, the victim can ask for 100% of these costs. It is up to them whether to request restitution and to show how much is owed using bills, estimates, and other documentation. If the victim doesn’t yet know the total cost at the time of sentencing, a “restitution hearing” will be scheduled at a later date to sort it out.

If you are ordered to pay restitution, you will end up paying the full amount. If you can’t pay it at once, the court will establish a payment plan. If you don’t have a job they will order you to get one as part of probation. If you do have a job they may garnish your wages so the monthly payment comes out of your check before you even get paid.

When there is a San Diego DUI with an accident you want to get the ball rolling right away. Contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz now at 858-751-4384.

Here is the article I mentioned earlier about restitution:

The full article can be found here.

A drunken driver who rear-ended a car in La Jolla, injuring two women, has been ordered to pay more than $230,000 in restitution to the victims.

Jonah Hamilton was ordered last week to pay around $218,000 in attorney fees and just under $12,000 to cover the victims’ out-of-pocket medical expenses and property damage. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI in December 2015 and was placed on five years probation

Officials with the City Attorney’s Office said it took more than two years and seven court appearances to secure the restitution award for Amy Ruminski, who was driving, and her mother, Ellen Bowen, who was a front seat passenger. The case was a “complicated restitution matter involving significant injuries and an uninsured motorist,” said Chief Deputy City Attorney Michael Giorgino.

“Victims are entitled full compensation for the losses they suffer as a result of a defendant’s criminal conduct,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a statement. “Let this be a lesson to those who drink or do drugs and then drive: the City Attorney’s Victim Services Unit will seek justice for crime victims no matter how long it takes.”


Both women were injured when Hamilton smashed his SUV into the rear of Ruminski’s Mazda CX-9 on La Jolla Boulevard in August 2015. Ruminski’s sons, ages 10 and 12, were riding in the back of the Mazda but were not hurt.

Hamilton admitted he had been drinking vodka that morning after taking prescription medication and was going to the beach to sleep it off when he ran into the Mazda, according to the City Attorney’s Office. Hamilton had a blood alcohol level of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

Ruminski struck her head against the steering wheel, which caused extreme migraines and painful injuries to her neck and lower back. Bowen suffered an umbilical hernia as a result of trauma to her abdomen caused by the seat belt.

A hearing has been set for May 4 to determine a payment schedule for the defendant, Giorgino said.





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