Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were recently involved in a lawsuit for a rear-end collision. The thing is – they weren’t directly involved in the collision. But their 25-year-old son was, for alleged DUI.

Actor Tom Hanks and Wife Rita Wilson Were Charged for Son’s DUI

Plaintiff Terry Moogan has filed court papers against Hanks on Wilson for what he alleges to be negligence in allowing their son, Chet Hanks, to drive their car while he was “under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol” during the February 25th car accident.

The suit claims that, “Despite knowing that Chester Hanks was a careless and reckless driver and a habitual user of drugs and alcohol, they negligently permitted Chester Hanks to operate their vehicle.”

Moogan alleges that he suffered not only whiplash, but also a traumatic brain injury after hitting his head on the dashboard during the accident. Moogan also alleges Hanks was under the influence at the time, but Hanks was never formally charged with a DUI and cops were not called to the scene of the accident to be able to file a report.

Chet Hanks

Chet Hanks, who is an aspiring rapper that goes by the name of Chet Haze, admitted to a coke habit in a series of Instagram videos last fall.

“A couple of months ago, I was selling coke, doing coke until I couldn’t even snort it up my nose anymore because it was so clogged,” he said in one. “If I can change, you can change. There is a solution.”

“I’ve been in rehab. I’ve been trying to get my s–t together, and I’m doing pretty damn good.”

The videos have since been deleted. As he revealed on Twitter, he reached his six-month sobriety mark on Jan. 29. “Blessings are happening all around me,” he tweeted.

Can Hanks and Wilson Be Charged?

While Moogan has filed a lawsuit, the chances of it being thrown out are very high, and for a number of reasons.

Reason number one is the fact that Chet Hanks is a 25-year-old. Were he under the age of 18, Moogan might have a chance to pursue his claim. While state laws vary when it comes to a parent’s liability for their child’s harmful actions, usually a parent can be held responsible for damages caused by an underage child.

This liability can also be extended should an underage child is intoxicated and is involved in an accident. Under what is called a “family car doctrine,” the owner for the car (typically the parent) is financially liable for any damage caused by the car. The only time this may apply to children that are over 18 is if they are still considered as legal dependents.

While it’s unclear if Chet Hanks is considered a legal dependent, the fact that he has established himself as a rapper might undo the claims of dependency that Moogan might attempt to make.

Additionally, and maybe more importantly, the fact that Hanks was not arrested for a DUI, and no police report was created because police were not called to the scene, will make it even harder for Moogan to continue with his allegations that Hanks was driving under the influence.

Drunk Driving (DUI) Charges

Drunk driving charges are serious and carry serious consequences. While penalties will vary from case to case, here is a break-down of the sentencing guidelines and what you face if you are convicted of driving under the influence.

First DUI Conviction

For a first DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 96 hours and no more than 6 months.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • Suspension of driver’s license for six months. A court may grant a temporary restricted license. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • Depending on the circumstances of DUI, a first time DUI offender may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a second DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 90 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 1 year. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • Depending on the circumstances of DUI, a first time DUI offender may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a third DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time for no less than 120 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • An offender will be considered a “habitual traffic offender” by the state for 3 years following the conviction.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 2 years. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • An offender might be able to apply for a restricted driver’s license, but installation of an Ignition Interlock Device may be required. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

For a fourth DUI conviction in California, a person receives:

  • Jail-time, prison or both, for no less than 180 days and no more than 1 year.
  • A fine for no less than $390 and no more than $1,000 (plus penalties).
  • An offender will be considered a “habitual traffic offender” by the state for 3 years following the conviction.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 3 years. Your driver’s license cannot be reinstated until you have provided proof of financial responsibility and proof of completion of a state-approved “driving under the influence” program.
  • An offender might be able to apply for a restricted driver’s license, but installation of an Ignition Interlock Device may be required. This will be done at the offender’s own expense.

If you are arrested and convicted of a DUI in California, a judge will typically apply a set of minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines. A judge will also weigh the specifics of your case in addition to previous convictions.

Illegal in California

It’s important to remember that while driving in California, the following is illegal:

” Drivers under 21 are not allowed to transport or carry unsealed beer, wine,or liquor in their vehicle when they are driving alone. Exceptions can be made for work-related driving.
” Drivers under 21 are not allowed to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .01 or higher.
” Drivers under 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup, and prescription drugs.
” Any driver, regardless of age,is not allowed to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. This is a standard BAC measurement used by all states to establish that a driver is impaired.
” The driver of any vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license may not drive with a BAC of .04 percent or higher.
” A driver under 18 is not allowed to drive with ANY measurable blood alcohol concentration.
” Repeat offenders are not allowed to drive with a BAC of .01 or greater.

These drunk driving laws are similar to many other DUI laws across the United States.

Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a DUI conviction, you’ll want to work with a criminal defense lawyer that handles DUI cases. Once you and your attorney have discussed the specifics of the allegations you are facing, you will be informed about the strengths and weaknesses of your case, including the risks of conviction and punishment that you face. A defense attorney will be able to negotiate a plea deal or decide to move forward with a trial, while constantly working to ensure your best interests.

The criminal defense lawyers at Daniel Perlman Law in Los Angeles will put our experience to work for you. We believe every defendant has the right to a zealous defense. We offer free initial consultations and will usually quote a flat fee that will cover all the services necessary for your case, including trial. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers, call 877-887-4541 or contact us by e-mail.

Daniel R. Perlman, Esq.
Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman