Court papers have been filed against actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, because of the involvement of their son, Chet Hanks, in an alleged criminal-related car accident. The person suing, Terry Moogan, is claiming that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are responsible for her injuries because they allowed their son to drive under the influence of either drugs or alcohol on February 25, 2016, which resulted in an accident. Moogan claims he suffered a brain injury and whiplash after hitting his head on the dashboard. The theory of the case is that his parents knew that he was a habitual drug and alcohol user, and negligently allowed him to operate their car anyways.
Does Mr. Moogan Have a Case?
The police were not called to the scene of the accident when it occurred, and Chet Hanks was not charged with driving under the influence at the time of the accident. There is no record of him being under the influence, therefore, at the time of the accident. Further, Chet Hanks was 25 years old at the time of the accident; parental liability usually attaches only in cases of a child who is age 18 or less, or otherwise considered a legal dependent of their parents. Mr. Moogan’s claim that the parents were negligent for even allowing him to drive their car in the first place, given his past issues with drug use, are weak. His claims might be stronger if there was an actual criminal charge on the books relating to the accident, but there is not. At this point he does not have a criminal defense attorney officially on the case. If you have been accused by anyone of driving under the influence, however, you can see by this lawsuit how important it is to discuss it with a criminal lawyer, as you could be facing legal action.
Steps to Investigating a Criminal Charge
In most cases, if you are accused of committing a criminal offense, the accusation will be made by a police officer, and the first question is going to be “Have you had anything to drink tonight?” An officer cannot force you to answer any question that might be incriminating, so we suggest that you request an attorney if you are asked this question and have, in fact, had any alcohol to drink. However, if you have not been drinking, you should answer the questions, as having a blood alcohol content of lower than .08 is not considered driving under the influence, and admitting to having one drink does explain why you may smell of alcohol.
If the officer is not sure whether or not you are being truthful, the next step is a field sobriety test. California does not allow you to consult a criminal lawyer before submitting to this, but you can politely refuse the tests. The risk of taking the field sobriety test is that an officer can decide you failed even if your results are borderline, and this can be used against you in a court of law. Ozols Law Firm can always help in a situation like this.
The next step is the breathalyzer test, referred to as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. Breathalyzer tests are used in California before and after an arrest. If it is before your arrest, you have the right to refuse to take it, although you will likely be arrested at that point. Once you are arrested, the law requires you take a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol level.
Crimes involving alcohol or drugs can be very serious. Drug related crimes are something that can affect someone for the rest of their lives. It is something that employers frown upon when looking at someone’s criminal history. Having a lawyer in San Diego that specializes in drug related offenses could make a big difference.
If you have been arrested for a crime, or would like advice about a potential legal issue arising out of allegations of a crime, then call or fill out our online contact form now for a consultation, and let Mr. Ozols help protect your record and your freedom.