If you have been accused of causing a drunk driving accident, you may face criminal penalties that are more severe than you would in a typical Florida driving under the influence (DUI) case. At Ellis and Bryant, we have the legal knowledge and dedication to shape your defense against any criminal charges arising from a DUI accident. Our Jacksonville DUI attorneys work hard to help our clients avoid conviction, negotiate a lower charge, or otherwise defend their rights.Florida DUI Accident Crimes
Many DUI cases stem from traffic stops, where a police officer has cause to pull over a driver for violating a traffic law or driving erratically. Likewise, a drug or alcohol-related motor vehicle accident may also lead to a DUI arrest. These DUI charges may arise from multiple-vehicle collisions or one-vehicle accidents. When responding to the scene of an accident, the police will likely request a breath or blood sample from a driver whom they have reason to suspect was impaired by alcohol or drugs. If a chemical test indicates that the driver has a blood- or breath-alcohol level of .08 or more, or if field sobriety tests show that the driver’s normal facilities are impaired, the driver may be arrested for driving under the influence. In DUI accident cases, however, a conviction may carry more serious penalties.DUI Accident Penalties
In Florida, the law provides enhanced penalties for a DUI offense that results in property damage or personal injury. Under the Florida DUI statute, a person who causes property damage or a non-serious bodily injury by reason of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs commits a first degree misdemeanor. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was driving over the legal limit or impaired by alcohol or drugs, and that the defendant’s driving caused or contributed to an accident that damaged the property or person of another. A conviction is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a $1,000 fine. The penalties may be more severe under certain circumstances, such as if the defendant was driving a passenger under the age of 18, or had a blood or breath alcohol level of .15 or higher when the accident occurred. In addition, the penalties for a simple DUI may apply, including the possibility of probation, community service, vehicle impoundment, ignition interlock device, and/or other consequences.
If the DUI accident causes serious bodily injury to someone, the defendant may be charged with a third degree felony. Serious bodily injuries are those that cause loss or impartment of a body part or organ, disfigurement, or a substantial risk of death. The penalties upon conviction may include up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000, in addition to license suspension or revocation and potentially other penalties.
In a fatal drunk driving crash, the prosecution may allege that the defendant committed DUI manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter. For a DUI manslaughter conviction, the state has the burden to prove that the defendant, by reason of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, caused or contributed to causing the fatal accident. It is a second degree felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a $10,000 maximum fine. A fatal hit and run DUI accident is a first degree felony offense where the defendant knew or should have known that the crash occurred, and left the scene without rendering aid or assistance. A conviction may result in a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a $10,000 fine. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is am important step toward protecting your rights in a DUI accident case and fighting a conviction, particularly for felony DUI charges.Hire a DUI Accident Attorney in Jacksonville
At Ellis and Bryant, our criminal defense lawyers can begin working immediately on a strategy to contest charges resulting from a DUI accident in or near Jacksonville. We also assist people who have been arrested for misdemeanor or felony offenses in Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, Middleburg, and other locations in Duval, Nassau, St. Johns, or Clay Counties. Request a meeting to discuss your case with a lawyer by contacting us online or calling our office at (904) 551-4120.