Most people are aware that driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, controlled substances, or chemical substances is illegal in Florida, but criminal penalties can be enhanced when the drunk driver causes a motor vehicle accident. Even if a crash does not result in bodily injury, an alleged offender may be subject to more serious penalties if charged with DUI causing property damage.
The extent of the damage caused may not necessarily impact the resulting criminal charges, but it can lead to a larger order of restitution if the alleged offender is convicted. People who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents are naturally inclined to perform much worse on field sobriety tests, and supposed signs of intoxication could simply have been people showing natural signs of having endured traumatic events.
Were you recently arrested in South Florida for an alleged drunk driving offense that resulted in property damage? Do not attempt to explain yourself without legal counsel. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are criminal defense attorneys in West Palm Beach who defend clients facing DUI charges in Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, and many surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County.
You can have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (561) 283-3259 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Under Chapter 28.1(a) of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove the crime of DUI causing property damage under Florida Statute § 316.193(3)(c)1.:
Florida Statute § 316.193(3)(c)1, establishes that DUI causing property damage is a first-degree misdemeanor. Property damage can include damage to the alleged offender's motor vehicle, damage to the vehicles of any other parties, and damage to any other kind of property belonging to another party.
As a first-degree misdemeanor offense, a conviction for DUI causing property damage is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The penalties can further increase if the alleged offender was accompanied in the vehicle at the time of the offense by a person under the age of 18 years or had a BAC of 0.15 or higher. In such cases, a first DUI conviction is punishable by a fine of at least $1,000 up to $2,000, a minimum fine of $2,000 up to $4,000 for a second conviction and a fine of at least $4,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.
It is important to note that Florida Statute § 316.066(4) is considered Florida’s accident report privilege. Under this statute, any statement made by a person involved in a crash to complete a crash report cannot be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal.
Crash, and Citation Reports & Statistics | Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) — The FLHSMV collects data and researches to provide important facts and valuable information related to public safety and motor services. It also compiles and analyzes traffic and safety data and emerging trends, and this section of the FLHSMV website allows you to view various crash and citation reports and statistics. According to Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES), 221,333 of the 383,310 total statewide crashes in Florida in 2017 were property damage crashes.
Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance | Insurance Information Institute (III) — The Insurance Information Institute (III) is an industry-supported organization with the mission “to improve public understanding of insurance—what it does and how it works.” According to ISO, a Verisk Analytics property/casualty insurance risk business, only 1 percent of people with liability insurance policies in 2016 had a bodily injury liability claim, while 3.9 percent of those with liability insurance had a property damage liability claim. The average auto liability claim for property damage in 2016, however, was $3,683, while the average claim for bodily injury was $16,110.
If you were arrested for DUI causing property damage anywhere in South Florida, it would be in your best interest to quickly seek legal representation. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents residents and visitors in communities throughout Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Miami-Dade County, such as Wellington, Jupiter, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and many others.
West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell can fight to possibly have your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Call (561) 283-3259 or complete an online form to have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.