DUI and Personal Injury Enhancements
Under Florida law, a DUI charge can be enhanced if the victim of an accident is injured. A prosecutor can use the enhancement even if the injury is not serious and even if the defendant is a first time offender. These charges can be tricky as a victim may not seem to have injuries at the scene of the crime but then may later develop minor injuries that reveal serious injuries. This type of DUI can also be complicated for a defendant as they may also face civil liability if the victim of the DUI accident decides to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Penalties for DUI Non-Serious Bodily Injury
If a DUI does not involve a personal injury, then a first-time offender may face up to six months in jail. Comparing the maximum potential jail time for DUIs and DUIs involving personal injury claims gives an indication of the seriousness of the crime for Florida lawmakers. A criminal charge of DUI that causes personal injury to another is a first-degree misdemeanor. A defendant might face up to twelve months in jail and a possible $1,000 fine. This is the case even if the injuries are minor scrapes and bruises. Since DUI cases do not often involve victims, when an accident injures another person, prosecutors dedicate extra attention to these cases.
DUI Involving Serious Bodily Personal Injury
If a DUI caused serious bodily injury to a victim, then a defendant will face a third-degree felony charge. The defendant will face a maximum of five years in prison and may be subject to mandatory minimum sentences and incarceration. Depending on circumstance of the arrest, some defendants will be charged immediately with the felony version of the offense. It is also possible that the defendant could be arrested for a DUI and the charges are upgrade as a prosecutor receives updated information on the victim’s injuries.
Defenses in the DUI with Personal Injury Case
Regardless of the DUI charge, there are several defenses that a defendant facing a DUI with a personal injury charge may be able to use depending on the circumstances of the accident. Possible defenses include:
- Field Sobriety Exercises: Oftentimes a driver is asked to perform a field sobriety test immediately following an accident. These tests are not always accurate and are affected by the driver’s shock after being rattled or injured during the accident.
- Breath Test: There are many factors that may make a field breath test inaccurate. A test can pick up on food metabolized in the system and even alcohol in the air. Some experts believe airbag deployment can also produce an inaccurate or higher than normal test result.
Seek Help From an Attorney
DUI accidents that result in an injury to a victim are complex and may evolve over time. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI involving a personal injury, contact Moses & Rooth, we can guide you through a DUI charge and present the best defense before a court. Please contact us today at (407) 377-0150 to schedule an initial appointment.