Drunk Drivers Face Strong Consequences under Florida Law
Drinking while driving can dramatically increase a driver’s chances of causing a car accident. Besides dramatically increasing your chance of being in a crash, driving while intoxicated exposes a driver to both criminal penalties and civil liabilities. The Florida DMV reports that in 2011, law enforcement issued nearly 55,722 DUI citations, resulting in 33,625 DUI convictions. This high number of citations and convictions for drinking are a serious concern for lawmakers, law enforcement, and accident victims. Most of us are aware of criminal punishment related to drunk driving; however, it’s just as important to understand ramifications of driving drunk under civil law.
How Does Florida Define Drunk Driving?
Many drivers may have a glass of wine or a beer while out for dinner or drinks. Would this type of social drinking lead to a DUI citation or conviction in Florida? It depends on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Florida law states that a person is driving while intoxicated when they have a BAC at or above .08.
DUIs have Criminal and Civil Consequences
Criminal consequences for DUI are very serious. Under Florida law, first time DUI offenders may be sentenced up to six months in jail and/or a possible $2,000 fine. First time offenders may also be required to serve community service, probation, or complete an alcohol treatment program. If a driver causes an accident when driving while intoxicated, then they may also face criminal charges for any injuries or property damaged in the accident. While they are different, civil law allows an accident victim hold a driver responsible for the damage they caused.
DUI Accident Victims can Recover Losses
An accident victim can always seek compensation for losses after an accident. This is true even when the other driver was not intoxicated. An accident victim can recover for losses under Florida law by proving the other driver was negligent. Generally, demonstrating negligence under Florida requires the victim prove existence of a duty, breach of duty, causation and harm. Demonstrating duty and breach of duty can be straightforward since every driver has a duty to abide by DUI laws and not drive while intoxicated. Harm is often not difficult to prove as drunk drivers often cause devastating injuries to pedestrians and other drivers regularly. These injuries may result in broken bones, disfiguring burns or permanent disabilities. A good lawyer will help an accident victim develop a good strategy for proving the other elements of their claim.
Seek Help from an Attorney
While we often think of criminal penalties associated with drinking and driving, there are very serious civil consequences for those who injure others. Speaking to a lawyer about a potential legal claim may be the best way for a victim of a drunk driving accident to ensure they are able to fully recover from their losses. It is important that you get the best help for your case. Speak with the Miami car accident attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. We can help you determine the best strategy to seek recovery for your injuries. Please contact us today to schedule an initial appointment.