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Intervening Cause in Florida DUI Cases

Although not a commonly asserted defense, an independent intervening cause can create a defense under Florida law. The prosecutor must provide causation for certain types of DUI cases including the following:

  1. DUI with property damage;
  2. DUI with non-serious bodily injury;
  3. Felony DUI with serious bodily injury; and
  4. Felony DUI Manslaughter.

In these cases, the person accused of the crime may attempt to show at trial that some intervening cause resulted in bodily injury or property damage. An intervening cause is an event or action that changes the natural progression of events that would have otherwise occurred.

For instance, if a car crash results in a non-deadly wound, but then medical malpractice at the hospital subsequently results in death, then the defendant may be able to argue that the prosecutor is unable to prove causation as an element of the offense, or that the defense of an independent intervening cause is present.

The presence of an intervening cause can lessen or even eliminate the culpability of a prior act such as driving under the influence of alcohol causing damage or loss. Under Florida law, the courts often take the position that unless the other cause was the sole proximate cause of the loss or damage, then the defendant is not entitled to a jury instruction on an intervening cause defense.

On the other hand, if something else caused the harm or loss, that that other cause of the harm or loss was the sole proximate cause, then the defense would likely be entitled to a defense that it may find that the intervening cause negates the causation element that the prosecutor is required to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

Contact a DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL, to discuss certain defenses that may be available under the particular facts and circumstances of your drunk driving case in Hillsborough County, FL.

This article was last updated on Thursday, December 1, 2022.