DUI with Property Damage
If you have been arrested for DUI with Property Damage in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, enhanced penalties might apply if you are convicted of the criminal offense. Contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss fighting this very serious criminal charge.
The goal in most of these cases is protecting your driving privileges and avoiding a DUI conviction by getting the case reduced to reckless driving. Special defenses exist in these case including the exclusion of evidence covered by the accident report privilege.
We welcome your calls to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an attorney at the firm about the unique facts of your case.
Crime Statistics in DUI with Property Damage
DUI cases involving property damage are prosecuted aggressively in Tampa. Statistics published by government agencies show that DUI accidents comprise nearly forty percent (40%) of all vehicle crashes involving a fatality.
Of those vehicle crashes that result in personal injury each year in the United States, nearly 10% involve alcohol. In 2002 alone, DUI accidents killed more than 17,000 people.
Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) allege that DUI accidents are the most serious threats to public safety on the roadway.
Punishments for DUI with Property Damage in Florida
Even if your case did not involve any kind of personal injury, the prosecutors look very closely at any DUI case that involves a car accident or crash because enhanced penalties apply to those charges.
Under Florida law, the criminal charge of DUI that causes damage to another person or property is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to (12) twelve months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Compare those penalties with a first DUI without any accident which has a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for a first DUI or nine months in jail for a second DUI.
Elements of Property Damage DUI in Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3)
The elements of property damage DUI can be found at Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3). Those elements of proving a DUI with enhanced penalties for property damage requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following:
- the Defendant operated a vehicle, was driving a vehicle, or was in actual physical control of a vehicle
- the Defendant caused or contributed to causing damage to the property of another person or injury to another person
- the Defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical substance or controlled substance to the extent his or her normal facilities were impaired
- the Defendant had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood at the time of driving
- the Defendant had a breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath at the time of driving.
Defenses in DUI Property Damage Cases in Tampa, FL
Despite the seriousness of the accusation, in DUI cases with Property Damage, certain defense are more likely to be available, including:
- Crash Report Privilege -The accident report privilege under Florida law provides immunity to a person making a statement during the course of an accident or crash investigation including during a DUI with property damage investigation in Florida.
- Roadside Agility Exercises - During a DUI investigation, the law enforcement officer may request that the driver get out of the vehicle and perform certain field sobriety exercises. If the investigation takes place after a car crash with property damage then the results may not accurate to the extent they are impacted by the driver being "shook up" or injured from the crash.
- 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 the driver exited the vehicle after the accident but before the police arrived on the scene, then the prosecutor may have a more difficult time proving who actually drove the vehicle at the time of the accident, particularly if the driver did not make any admissions that he was driving or if those admissions are excluded under the crash report privilege.
- Intervening Cause Defense - If the defendant's conduct did not cause or contribute to the property damage, or if another unexpected cause contributed to the damage then an intervening cause defense may exist in the case.
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.
Call 813-250-0500 to discuss the circumstances of your DUI case in Tampa today.
This article was last updated on Friday, January 13, 2016.