Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer in Tampa
DUI accidents are entirely preventable, and yet they continue to be a leading cause of deadly car accidents in Florida and throughout the United States. In 2015, Hillsborough County saw 25,956 DUI crashes, causing 19,885 injuries and 196 preventable deaths. And, that trend is continuing as Hillsborough County still leads Florida in drunk driving accidents. These drunk driving facts are sobering for many of us.
Victims of DUI accidents not only have to suffer the physical pain of their injuries but have to also deal with the added financial strain of costly medical bills and an inability to work during recovery. This is an injustice that can be remedied by taking legal action.
Intoxicated drivers who cause car accidents can and should be held liable for the costs of any injuries that result from their recklessness. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you should immediately contact a Tampa car accident attorney at Darrigo & Diaz, Attorneys at Law. We are available days, nights, and weekends to offer you immediate help.
What are the Drunk Driving Penalties in Florida?
Laws and penalties for DUIs are becoming increasingly harsh. However, in states like Florida, the more often a person is arrested for drunk driving, the penalties begin to level out in their severity. Florida law states that people who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be subject to the following consequences:
- First Offense
- Fine of $500—$1,000; increases to $1,000—$2,000 if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Imprisonment up to 6 months; 9 months if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Vehicle impounded or immobilized for 10 days.
- Loss of license for 180 days to one year.
- Penalties increase by $1,000 or one year in prison and loss of license for 3 years if there is property damage or personal injury involved.
- Second Offense
- Fine of $1,000—$2,000; increases to $2,000—$4,000 if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Imprisonment up to 9 months; 12 months if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Vehicle impounded or immobilized for 30 days.
- Loss of license for up to 5 years.
- Third Offense
- Fine of $2,000—$5,000; up to $4,000 if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Imprisonment up to 12 months.
- Vehicle impounded or immobilized for 90 days.
- Loss of license for up to 10 years.
- Fourth & Subsequent Offenses
- Fine up to $2,000; up to $4,000 if BAL is higher than 0.15 or there is a minor in the vehicle.
- Imprisonment up to 5 years.
- Vehicle impounded or immobilized for 90 days.
- Permanent revocation of license.
These figures are a generalized overview of some of the possible penalties for drunk driving in Florida. However, depending on the circumstances, the courts may add or reduce the penalties. For example, if there is a grievous bodily injury or death involved in a drunk driving accident, the offender may find themselves behind bars for up to 15 years. They may also require offenders to attend DUI school or other forms of training course.
What is the Legal Threshold for Drunk Driving in Florida?
Drivers with a blood alcohol content at or above .08% can be convicted of driving under influence; commercial drivers can be convicted with a blood alcohol content of .04%, and drivers under 21 years of age can be convicted with a blood alcohol content of .02%.
How Many People Die From Drunk Driving Accidents Each Year?
Over the past several years, the number of drunk drivers arrested in Florida has increased dramatically. While Florida is now taking harsh measures to fight drunk driving, there is still a lot more work to be done.
Every year, fatal drunk driving accidents claim the lives of an average of 10,500 people, according to the NHTSA. The drunk driving statistics are a stark realization that despite an abundance of effort to reduce fatal drunk driving accidents around the nation, we still have a lot of work to do.
Quick Drunk Driving Facts
These few quick drunk driving facts shed light on the problem that the US is faced with when it comes to the increase in drunk driving accidents. The problem is especially prolific among young adults, especially if they begin drinking at a very young age.
- A drunk driver will normally drive drunk an average of eighty times before their arrest for drunk driving.
- On average, one person dies every 51 minutes in a drunk driving accident. In contrast, one person is injured in a drunk driving accident every 2 minutes. This equals 31 lives changed forever every hour.
- Of the people that have had their licenses revoked, an estimated 50-75% of them continue to drive without their license.
- The leading cause of death for teens is traffic accidents. Approximately ⅓ of those accidents are related to drunk driving.
I was Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident. What Should I do?
The first step is to immediately seek appropriate medical attention immediately by calling 911. Do not worry about a potential lawsuit before accessing medical care, but try to make sure that the police officer on the scene tests the blood alcohol content of the other driver(s) involved.
If you see a doctor, make sure you provide him or her with accurate information about your injury and the events surrounding it; the resulting medical documents will be useful should you choose to pursue options in court. If at all possible, you should attempt to capture photos or video of the time and location of your injury, and you should examine the area for witnesses and try to gauge their reactions; this will be helpful in determining culpability on the part of the other driver. The more tangible evidence you can produce, the better case an attorney can make for the worth of your case.
Should I Sue the Drunk Driver Responsible for the Accident in Criminal Court, Civil Court, or Both?
You cannot sue a person in a criminal court. The District Attorney for the county in which your accident took place is responsible for filing criminal charges against the defendant.
You are responsible for bringing a civil case against the drunk driver responsible for your accident; you can be awarded legal remedy in the form of restitution and, in the most likely situation, settlement, after mediation with the driver’s legal defense attorney and your insurance companies.
While proof of intoxication alone may not be enough to demonstrate complete culpability of the drunk driver, the burden of proof in a criminal case for drunk driving lies in establishing that you, the plaintiff, were not equally responsible for the accident as was the drunk driver.
Should I Deal Directly with the Insurance Company or a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney?
You should not have to suffer financially for an accident that was not your fault, especially when that accident was caused by an irresponsible drunk driver. While an insurance adjuster may claim that they have your best interests in mind, you should remember that insurance companies are not in the business of making payouts.
In fact, adjusters are trained to look for ways to minimize or avoid a payout, often by placing blame for an accident on the victim. If you have been hurt, DO NOT speak with an insurance adjuster before securing legal representation. Having a Tampa car accident lawyer on your side may dramatically increase your chances of receiving fair compensation to cover all of your losses.
How Much is my Drunk Driving Accident Case Worth?
It depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. In order to get an accurate sense of the worth of your case, you must also make a case for the damages personally suffered after your accident. These damages can include medical costs, time spent in the hospital, physical and emotional trauma, time off of work, and any other ongoing difficulties.
Once you have given as much clarifying detail as can be provided, your attorney can assess how much you may be entitled to in compensation. If you choose to pursue legal recovery, settlement out of court is the likeliest option; in the event that your case moves to trial, it is still likelier than not that the case will settle at some point in the process of trial.
How Much Will Drunk Driving Accident Legal Fees Cost?
For victims of drunk drivers, we offer free initial consultations; we also work on a contingency basis, meaning that you will not incur any legal fees unless and until we are able to secure a legal victory for your case. These terms will appear in writing in a contract signed by you and your attorney. In the event that a settlement is reached, your legal fees will be folded into your recovery.
How Can I Hire a Drunk Driving Accident Injury Attorney in Tampa?
A drunk driving accident can be a traumatic experience, with an inherent risk of far-reaching, life-altering damages. If you or a loved one was a victim of a drunk driving accident, we hope you consider and assess your available routes of legal remedy. Our Tampa personal injury team handles all aspects of litigation and also has decades of trial experience, and we are well-prepared to bring a case to court if it is necessary. Contact us 24/7 by calling (813) 774-3341 to discuss your legal options right over the phone.