The State of Florida considers DUI a criminal and negligent act and criminal charges have been established to punish drivers for endangering themselves and others on the roadways. The penalties may involve jail time, probation, and fines. The legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) in Florida is 0.08%.1 If you are caught driving with a BAC of over 0.08%, you may be charged with DUI and the state will begin criminal proceedings against you.
The criminal consequences of a first DUI in Florida are up to six months in jail, a fine of $500-$1,000, suspension of your driver’s license up to one year, and possibly an ignition interlock device being installed in your car (at your expense). The jail time and penalties can be increased to nine months for a BAC of 0.15% or more; nine months for having a passenger under 18 years old; one year if the accident involved property damage or minor injuries, and five years if the accident caused serious bodily injury.
Civil claims for damages.
Car accidents where civil suits are involved are based on a claim of negligence; meaning someone failed to use reasonable care. DUI is a negligent act therefore the claim should yield necessary compensation for damages, once the criminal charges have been addressed. Reasonable care is defined as the level of care that a prudent person would have used under the same or similar circumstances. A drunk driver would be liable for any accident they caused because a driver using reasonable care would not operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol as they would understand the serious risk of accident and injury associated with such behavior.
Recoverable damages for the victims of drunk driving accidents in this case would include compensation for the property damage caused to the vehicles that were hit. In addition, victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to seek punitive damages.
Florida insurance offsets damages.
Mandatory Insurance. State of Florida requirements are that motor vehicles must have current auto insurance coverage with a minimum requirement of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL).
No-Fault Car Insurance. The Florida No-Fault Law requires drivers to carry the PIP and this no-fault coverage pays the insured’s bills, regardless of fault, up to the limit of the $10,000.
Statute of Limitations. Florida has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period beginning from the date of the accident.
Pure comparative Negligence (51% Rule). Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence rule” meaning that if you were responsible for any part of the activities that led to your injury, the compensation you will receive will be adjusted in accordance with that percentage of fault assigned to you. If the accident was caused because of drunk driving, a criminal conviction will support a negligence claim for the civil suit, and should strengthen your case and the amount of the award.
Court awards. Compensation will be based on the review liability insurance including uninsured motorist coverage, and physical damages to the other vehicles in this case.
Contact an attorney.
If you have a DUI that resulted in a car accident, it is in your best interests to seek legal representation in Fort Lauderdale to assist you with the criminal charges for the DUI, and the civil matters involving personal injury claims.
Gabriela C. Novo, P.A., Attorney at Law
200 S.E. 6th Street
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Office: (954) 523-4100
Cell: (954) 822-5198
Fax: (954) 208-0278