What Happens If I Cause an Accident While Intoxicated?
Getting caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit carries strict penalties. However, these consequences often pale in comparison to those you might face if you cause a car wreck while you’re intoxicated.
Not only might you have to pay more in fines, but you could also spend time behind bars and may—if you caused serious bodily harm to someone else—be barred from driving for years after the wreck. In this article, we take a closer look at the penalties you might face and how a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you fight the charges:
Penalties for a Drunk Driving Wreck
The biggest motivation behind Florida’s strict laws against drunk driving is a state-wide effort to prevent accidents on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7,573 people were killed in wrecks involving an alcohol-impaired driver in the state between 2009 and 2018.
However, testing over the limit after causing an accident is a drastically different experience to being caught out during a traffic stop. Firstly, your charges will almost always be elevated, leaving you to face harsher penalties. Secondly, you could also be confronted by civil action as the other motorist(s) will likely want to seek compensation for their injuries in the wake of the wreck. Finally, a judge or jury may choose to award punitive damages to any parties you injured, adding to the already hefty price tag associated with a DUI conviction.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, in addition to losing your license, you may also face the following charges:
- DUI Misdemeanor: If you caused any property damage or injured someone while driving under the influence, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction could result in fines of up to $1,000 and a one-year prison sentence.
- DUI Felony: If you are a serial offender and/or caused serious bodily harm in a wreck, you could be strapped with fines of up to $5,000 and may have to spend up to five years behind bars.
Keep in mind that if you caused someone’s death, you could face up to 15 years in prison. This sentence could be doubled if you fled the scene of the accident. However, just because you were involved in an accident, doesn’t mean your fate is sealed. You may still be able to fight the charges to have your penalties reduced or—with a strong defense—have the charges against you dismissed.
A skilled DUI lawyer can thoroughly assess your situation to determine your next best steps. Even if you are found guilty of the charges, an attorney might be able to help you get a reduced sentence.
Speak to a DUI Lawyer in Palm Beach Gardens Today
If you were arrested and charged with a DUI, it may be wise to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Todd A. Kawecki can investigate every aspect of your case to find evidence that might help your defense. Dial 772-485-4500 or tap through to our contact page HERE to request a free case review with a Florida DUI lawyer.