DUI with Non-Serious Personal Injury
If you have been arrested for DUI with non-serious personal injury in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, certain enhanced penalties apply based on the harm caused by the DUI. Under Florida law, the DUI charge can be enhanced based on the fact that personal injury occurred, even if that injury is not deemed to be "serious" and even if you have no prior record. Additionally, the alleged victim in the car accident involving a DUI arrest may sue you for personal injury damages in civil court.
Contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss fighting this very serious criminal charge of DUI with non-serious personal injury under Florida law.
The Maximum Statutory Penalty under Florida Law for DUI with Non-Serious Bodily Personal Injury
The criminal charge of DUI that causes personal injury to another (when that injury is not deemed to be "serious bodily injury") is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to (12) twelve months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa tend to treat any case involving a DUI with injury seriously, even if the injury is minor. Since most DUI cases do not involve a particular victim, when an accident occurs the prosecutors dedicate extra attention to these cases.
DUI with Non-Serious Bodily Personal Injury is a Serious Charge
Under Florida law, if the DUI does not involve personal injury then instead of six months in jail for a first DUI without any personal injury or property damage or nine months in jail for a second DUI without any personal injury or property damage, the person charged is looking at one year in jail. Comparing the maximum statutory offense under Florida law gives you a glimpse into how these cases are treated differently than other types of drunk driving cases.
Getting the charges reduced to reckless driving is the goal in many of these cases. Even if the charge is dropped from DUI with property damage or non-serious injuries to just a simply DUI, the client may receive a much less harsh punishment.
We have created this website to give you information on how you can fight the criminal charges. By understanding not only the direct consequences that occur after the arrest but also the collateral consequences our clients are in the best position to make decisions about how to proceed with the defense in thier case.
Avoiding an Even More Serious Charge for DUI with Serious Bodily Personal Injury
Of course, if the DUI charge involves serious personal injury then the offense is a third degree felony charge that is punishable by at least five years in Florida State Prison.
In certain cases, the defendant may be arrested for the felony version of the offense, but an attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor's office to only file misdemeanor charges during the 21 day period after the arrest. It is also possible that the defendant could be arrested for DUI with non-serious bodily injury and then the charges could be upgraded to the felony version of DUI with serious bodily injury if new evidence comes to the prosecutor's attention that the injuries should be classified as "serious bodily injury."
Any case involving a DUI with property damage or personal injury requires an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for the best outcome.
Defenses in the DUI with Personal Injury Case
For the criminal offense of DUI with non-serious personal injury in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, certain defenses may be available because of the fact that an accident occurred:
- Accident Report Privilege -Privilege provided by Florida Statute to information provided during the course of an accident or crash investigation often leads to statements made after the accident being excluded at trial;
- Field Sobriety Exercises - When a driver is asked to perform field sobriety exercises after a car accident, the results are not accurate to the extend they are impacted by the driver being "shook up" or injured from the accident;
- Breath Test- if the air bags in the driver's vehicle were deployed during the accident many experts believe that this fact alone can cause the breath test machine to record a higher and inaccurate reading; and
- Wheel Witness - If you exited the vehicle after the accident before the police arrived on the scene, then they will have a more difficult time proving that you were the driver, particularly if you did not make any admissions that you were driving or if those admissions are thrown out under the accident report privilege.
If you have been arrested in Tampa or Hillsborough County, FL, for DUI, contact an experienced attorney to discuss ways to fight this serious charge of DUI with non-serious personal injury. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss the circumstances of your DUI case in Tampa today.
Civil Lawsuits for Personal Injury Often Occur after the Arrest in Florida DUI Cases
Additionally, in many of these cases the alleged victim will seek out the services of a Florida personal injury attorney after the car accident. These attorneys typically take the case on a contengency basis and may sue the driver and the driver's insurance company for money damages. Unlike other types of car accident cases, any allegation that the at fault driver was under the influence of alcohol may lead to a much higher settlement offer or verdict at trial.
If you had car insurance when the accident occurred, then your insurance company will manage parts of the personal injury lawsuit. Typically, your criminal defense attorney will notify your insurance company that you are represented by counsel in the criminal case. In certain cases, the individual charged with DUI must also worry about being sued for damages beyond what the insurance company is required to pay, especially if the individual has substantial assets or income. See Houston Personal Injury Attorneys for Victims of DWI / Drunk Drivers or Ft. Lauderdale FL Personal Injury Attorneys.
The outcome of your Florida DUI case may impact the civil case for personal injury damages. Also, the person charged with DUI should be careful not to talk to any insurance company about the facts of the case (including their own insurance company) without first contacting a criminal defense attorney for advice.