DUI, or driving under the influence, is a serious offense that endangers the lives and well-being of everyone on the road. Also referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated), DUI laws vary by state. If you were involved in a car accident with an intoxicated driver, it’s vital to know your rights and what options are available to you for legal recourse.
Why DUI Is So Dangerous
Driving requires the full scope of the senses and alertness. Drivers who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or illicit drugs risk lives and create a danger to everyone else on the road. A few of the reasons driving under the influence is so dangerous include:
- Alcohol hinders good judgment. A drunk driver is more likely to take risks and engage in reckless behavior than a sober driver.
- Alcohol slows reaction times. Drunk drivers cannot adapt to changing road conditions nor the actions of other motorists as quickly or efficiently as sober drivers.
- Driving requires situational awareness. Drunk drivers can easily become distracted.
- Alcohol is a depressant that causes drowsiness. This poses a serious danger to the drunk driver and to other motorists on the road.
- About one-third of drunk drivers are repeat offenders.
- Drunk drivers are more prone to panic if in an accident.
- Driving while under the influence of illegal stimulants can lead to dangerous driving, such as speeding, disregarding traffic signals, and reckless maneuvers.
What You Can Do
If you were in a car accident with a drunk driver, it’s important to know your legal rights. As with any other personal injury case, you can claim damages for the injuries you suffered because of the drunk driver’s negligence. Driving under the influence is against the law, so the defendant will likely face criminal charges as well. The state of Florida has strict penalties for convicted drunk drivers:
- A first-time conviction can carry a sentence of up to six months of jail time, fines up to $2,000, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and 50 hours of community service. The offender must also complete a DUI safety course. These penalties increase depending on the amount of alcohol found in the driver’s system at the time of the arrest, whether or not the incident involved a minor.
- A second conviction carries nine months to a year in prison, fines of up to $4,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to five years. The offender must also complete DUI courses according to the court’s instructions.
- A third conviction results in up to a year in jail, fines between $2,000 and $5,000, and a minimum driver’s license suspension of 10 years.
- A fourth conviction carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and permanent revocation of the drunk driver’s license. For some license revocations, a hardship reinstatement may be possible after a few years. This isn’t the case for fourth-time offenders. A fourth DUI conviction is a third-degree felony in the state of Florida.
Any DUI conviction in Florida also requires the offender’s vehicle to be equipped with an interlock ignition device. To start a vehicle equipped with this device, the driver must blow into a breathalyzer system that checks for sobriety.
If you were hit by a drunk driver or are facing DUI charges, it’s important to secure reliable and experienced legal representation. SteinLaw is committed to serving every client’s best interests, and we will thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case. Reach out to our team for your DUI case in Florida today to set up a free evaluation.