Because of the very real possibility that drunk drivers may cause injuries or death, the Florida legislature has gradually been making DUI penalties more serious in recent years. This includes mandatory minimum sentences that cannot be reduced by a prosecutor or judge, as well as the possibility of felony charges for repeat offenders or drunk drivers who kill someone.
A fatal accident in Fort Walton Beach involved an underage suspect who was driving drunk.
Young driver kills a passenger in another car and injures the driver
The 20 year old suspect was driving on the Mary Esther Cutoff near the Hollywood Boulevard intersection in the Fort Walton Beach area. The victim’s car was t-boned by the suspect when they were approaching the same intersection. The Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene shortly afterward to find one female passenger dead when they arrived. The driver of the same car was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center with significant injuries.
The police made contact with the driver who caused the accident, and found that he was intoxicated. This suspect was charged with crimes related to underage drinking as well as DUI manslaughter.
What are the penalties for driving under the influence?
A conviction for driving under the influence anywhere in the state of Florida is serious. This is a first degree misdemeanor that includes license suspension, fines, community service, probation, and the possibility of jail time. Prosecutors can also recommend that a defendant attend treatment as part of their sentence such as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or have an ignition interlock placed on their car so they cannot drive if they have been drinking. Someone who is convicted of this offense more than once may also permanently lose their license as a condition of a plea or sentence, because they are now considered a habitual traffic offender. Any subsequent charges related to driving with a suspended or revoked license can also carry severe penalties on their own.
Charges such as DUI manslaughter from the story above are felonies related to drunk driving. These kinds of cases are life altering events that can land a suspect in jail for 10 years or more if convicted.
Is there any way to get help after being charged?
An expert DUI lawyer in the Fort Walton Beach area will know how to make sure the state can only obtain a conviction if they can prove each element of this crime beyond all reasonable doubt. Sometimes police do not follow the proper procedures for investigating an accident and collecting a sample of breath, blood, or urine afterwards. Witnesses may not be available to prove that someone saw the defendant driving at the time. These common mistakes form gaps in the state’s case, and these are areas a DUI defense attorney can attack. If successful, the defendant can possibly have their charges reduced or get the case dismissed altogether in some instances.
Talk to a local DUI attorney
If you need assistance after being charged with driving under the influence, there are Fort Walton Beach DUI attorneys available. Contact ASG Legal for more information about how to fight these serious criminal charges.