Jacksonville Defense Attorney for DUI Accidents with Injuries

Here in Florida the Legislature has criminalized the activity of driving under the influence pursuant to Florida Statute 316.193. Moreover, as the government hopes to curb the occurrence of DUI offenses the law in Florida also establishes certain mandatory minimum penalties for anyone convicted of DUI. These minimum penalties include a conviction of the offense, being placed on six month of probation, a six month driver’s license suspension, being required to complete DUI School, being required to attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel, 50 hours of community service, a ten day impoundment of your vehicles tag, paying a $500 fine, and paying additional court costs. 

Additionally, if you are alleged to have committed a DUI in Florida there are additional factors, known as aggravators, that will increase the penalty one would face compared to a standard DUI. These aggravators could include having a minor in the vehicle, being involved in a collision, having a high blood or breath alcohol content, whether the driver has prior convictions for DUI, injuring someone, or even causing the death of another.

Now while some of these aggravators can increase the penalty that a person charged with DUI may face,DUIs that result in death or serious bodily injury to another person are highly significant. The reason being that in Florida DUIs involving death or serious bodily injury to another will be charged as felonies and as such the potential penalties are far more severe. So if you or a loved one have been arrested or charged with DUI after a traffic crash resulting in injury, you should speak with a seasoned Jacksonville DUI lawyer before you make any decisions about your case. Criminal prosecutions can move quickly, so the sooner you consult a DUI attorney, the better. 

When Does a DUI Accident with Injuries Result in a Felony Charge?

Now remember not every DUI in Florida will be charged as a felony. When a person accused of driving under the influence is involved in a traffic accident, the seriousness of the charges and the possible penalties depend in part on the extent of the harm. For example, if only property damage results, the charge will be a misdemeanor of the first degree, carrying a possible sentence of up to one year in jail. 

A DUI accident with minor injuries may also result in a misdemeanor charge, with the same maximum penalties. But, a DUI with serious bodily injury may be charged as a felony of the third degree. That means a possible prison sentence of up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000.

If someone is killed as a result of a DUI, including an unborn child, the crime is a felony of the second degree and carrys a minimum sentence of at least four years imprisonment. Such an event is known as DUI manslaughter and as DUI manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, here in Florida an individual convicted of such an offense faces up to 15 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.It is also critically important to understand that if the driver  who committed a DUI that resulted in death was aware of the crash and failed to provide information and render aid, then the charge may be a felony of the first degree, meaning a possible 30 years in prison.

What is Serious Bodily Injury?

Serious bodily injury sounds a bit subjective, but the term is specifically defined by Florida law within Statute 316.1933. For purposes of the DUI statute, serious bodily injury means an injury that “consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” If you’re prosecuted for the felony charge of DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, the prosecution will have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the injury sustained in the collision fits this description. 

Charged with DUI Causing Injuries? Talk to a Jacksonville DUI Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with DUI after a traffic accident causing injuries, your best next step is to talk to an experienced Jacksonville DUI attorney. A lawyer with substantial knowledge of Florida DUI laws can: 

  • Explain what constitutes “serious bodily injury” and assess the strength of the charges against you
  • Explore possible defenses and pre-trial strategies, such as seeking to suppress evidence against you or challenging the validity of blood or breath alcohol testing
  • Leverage any weaknesses in the case to negotiate with the prosecution for a reduction in charges or favorable plea agreement
  • Work with experts as needed to address medical and scientific issues in the case
  • If it’s in your best interest, fight the charges against you at a jury trial or it the case might be better resolved through negotiation

Attorney Matthew Lufrano is an experienced criminal law attorney with the knowledge to provide the best possible defense in a Jacksonville DUI case–including serious DUI charges such as DUI, felony DUI, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, and DUI Manslaughter. 

Mr. Lufrano has significant experience trying cases before Florida juries and he is Board Certified as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar. To learn more about how Mr. Lufrano may be able to help you or a loved one, call 904-513-3905 or fill out our online form to contact us. The initial consultation is free and there’s no obligation, so there’s no risk and no downside. Get the information you need to make informed choices about how to proceed. 

Frequently Asked Questions about DUI Accidents with Injuries

Will DUI charges affect a lawsuit against me for a DUI accident?

Civil and criminal proceedings are separate and distinct. This means that even if a criminal case for DUI moves forward against an accused, this person may also face a separate civil suit brought by the other party to the accident. It is also worth remembering that civil and criminal cases are quite different. For instance, while a criminal case is brought by the State of Florida and typically involves a person’s liberty, a civil case is brought by another person or entity and is interested in money. Likewise, the standards of proof for criminal and civil cases are also distinct. In a criminal case the matter must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, while in a civil case the legal standard is a preponderance of the evidence. However, a criminal conviction for DUI after an accident causing property damage, injury or death can help establish liability in the civil case, making it difficult to fight a civil lawsuit. Thus it is important to be aware of the potential connection between the two. Furthermore, if convicted in a criminal DUI case, the Judge may also enter a restitution order as a penalty.

What is restitution in a DUI with injuries case?

A court must normally order restitution in a criminal case when the victim of a crime has suffered losses as a result of the crime. In a DUI case involving a traffic accident, the issuance of a restitution order is common. However, there are limits on what expenses the Court can order to be paid and anyone facing a potential restitution order has the right to a hearing there they can contest the value or amount sought. So again if you or a loved one are facing a DUi charge that involved damage it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Criminal Defense attorney.

Whose injuries support a charge of DUI with serious bodily injury?

Both the misdemeanor charge for damage to property or a person and the felony charge involving serious bodily injury require harm to “another.” So, the injured party could be a driver or passenger in another car, a passenger in the defendant’s car, a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or other person.

Can I refuse a blood or breath test after a DUI involving serious bodily injury?

This question, like so many other legal questions, isn’t as simple as one might expect. In general, even if a collision involves death or serious bodily injury a driver can always register or voice their refusal to consent to a request to provide a blood or breath sample. (But remember refusing to provide such materials will have consequences) However, registering this refusal, if one chooses to do so, may later become critical if there was an issue with the law enforcement officer’s request to provide the sample.

That said, it is also critical to understand that Florida Statute 316.1933 authorizes a law enforcement officer to require chemical testing if an accident results in death or serious bodily injury and the officer has probable cause to believe the driver was under the influence of alcohol or any chemical or controlled substance. This includes serious bodily injury to the driver suspected of being under the influence. Law enforcement is even authorized to use “reasonable force” to secure a test.

What is the duty to render aid?

Any person who is involved in a traffic accident that results in injury is required to render “reasonable assistance” to any person injured in the crash. This includes, but is not limited to, securing medical attention for the injured person. In a DUI involving serious bodily injury case, failure to provide such assistance may result in an upgrade of the charges to a felony of the first degree, carrying a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

How can I fight a DUI with injury charge?

No two cases are the same and thus there is no universal best way to tackle every case. This is especially true for cases involving allegations of DUI with injury. The best approach to fighting criminal charges against you, will depend on the specifics facts and circumstance of the case. Thus the very best step to take if you or a loved one are facing a serious DUI offense is to confer with an experienced DUI Defense Attorney. They will be able to walk you through the ins and outs of your case and help you to better understand your options as well as the strengths and weaknesses of any case. Moreover, the sooner you speak with a Jacksonville DUI attorney, the better opportunity your lawyer will have to investigate the case, file any necessary pre-trial motions, assemble evidence, negotiate on your behalf, and prepare for trial.