DUI With Serious Bodily Injury
Driving under the influence is one of the most common criminal offenses charged in the State of Florida. A great majority of people charged with DUI are first time offenders and have little or no exposure to the realities of the criminal justice system. Popular culture has drilled into our collective consciousness that a DUI charge is a serious offense that will leave a defendant tens of thousands of dollars in debt to lawyers and the courts. The reality is that a run of the mill DUI is not that horrible of a case. Many county State Attorneys offer pretrial diversion programs that can result in the dismissal and reduction in charges. And very rarely to people end up in jail over a regular DUI.
Real legal problems begin to develop however, when DUI enhancements start to kick in. Regular DUI is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty capped at 180 days in jail. The DUI statute though, has a myriad of enhancers and modifiers that change and significantly increase the penalties associated with DUI offenses. For example, people with prior DUI convictions will face an increasing severity of penalties for each subsequent DUI. A second DUI will carry a longer license suspension and increased maximum jail terms. A third DUI can under some circumstances be filed as a felony offense and may carry a minimum jail sentence. A fourth or subsequent DUI will always be a felony offense and prosecutors may start seeking prison. No matter what type of DUI you might be charged with, you should not hesitate to get in contact with a skilled Sarasota DUI defense attorney to understand your options.Elements Of DUI Serious Bodily Injury
While multiple time DUI offenders might obviously face increasingly serious penalties, there are circumstances where even a first time offender could be looking at serious felony charges. The most common instance is when the alleged DUI offense results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. When a person is pulled over for speeding or disobeying traffic laws and gets a DUI, that is treated as a victimless crime. However, when victims are indeed involved, police, prosecutors and judges take such offenses far more seriously. In fact the law itself is designed specifically to more seriously punish offenses where a victim is involved.
If a person is injured in a crash caused by a DUI driver, but not seriously injured, the offense can be charged as DUI involving property damage and personal injury. While still a misdemeanor offense, the maximum penalties are increased to up to one year in county jail along with higher fines and longer license suspensions. Though there is no mandatory jail time, some prosecutors and judges will be more likely to consider that type of sentence when injuries are involved.
When someone suffers serious bodily injury as a result of a crash caused by a DUI driver, the offense of DUI with serious bodily injury may be charged which is a third degree felony offense. As a felony, this crime is punishable by up to five years of prison and there will often be a mandatory prison sentence if convicted by plea or trial.
A skilled Sarasota DUI defense lawyer can assert defenses to protect you from such harsh results however. Prosecutors must first prove causation, and a skilled attorney can fight that assertion. For example, being under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance does not automatically mean that the DUI drive caused or contributed to the injuries. Sometimes the victims are in fact the ones who caused the crash. Under those circumstances, a lawyer can get the charges dropped or reduced to a misdemeanor. There is also room for litigation as to whether anyone actually suffered serious bodily injury. The line between minor injury and serious injury in the eyes of the law is a debatable one, and you need to speak with a lawyer who knows how to fight for the best result for you.Speak To Our Lawyers Today
The Sarasota DUI defense lawyers at Hanlon law are here to help you build the best defense in your case. Call us today at 941.462.1789.