Anytime someone gets behind the wheel after ingesting enough alcohol, narcotic drugs or prescription medication to impact their driving, they violate Florida law and run the risk of criminal prosecution. They could also injure others or cause property damage, leaving them with potential financial liability as a result.
Allegations of driving under the influence (DUI) can lead to various charges, even if the person driving simply got pulled over by police or caught up in a sobriety checkpoint. However, not all drunk drivers get caught due to random enforcement efforts by law enforcement officers.
Some drunk drivers get caught because they cause a crash that results in injuries to other people or property damage. Causing a crash is an aggravating factor for DUI charges under Florida law. If you get charged with a DUI in a crash that resulted in injuries or property damage, you can expect to face more serious consequences than a standard DUI charge would carry.
Property damage or injury could mean a Class A misdemeanor
The exact charges and consequences you have to worry about in a DUI case depend on your previous driving record. The more impaired driving charges you’ve had in the past, the more consequences you will face for your charges. In fact, if you have had three or more previous impaired driving charges, instead of a misdemeanor, you may face felony DUI charges.
Even if you have a perfectly clean criminal record and no DUI charges in your record, an impaired driving incident that results in property damage or injury to others will immediately qualify for upgraded penalties and charges.
You will likely face a Class A misdemeanor, which carries as much as a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. There will also be the loss of your license to consider, as well as extra costs when you do regain your license and secure car insurance. Additionally, the other party may be able to bring civil action against you in the Florida courts if their financial losses exceed the insurance coverage you have on your vehicle.
When someone dies because of a drunk driving crash, the penalties are severe
Many factors will influence how the courts charge you after an alleged impaired driving incident that results in a fatality. In some cases, the state may charge you with a DUI manslaughter charge, which is a second-degree felony.
Many factors, including your criminal history and the exact circumstances of the crash will influence how the court sentences someone accused of a DUI manslaughter charge. In some cases, the prosecutor or courts may allege vehicular homicide instead of DUI manslaughter. That charge is also a second-degree felony with the same theoretical potential penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.