Tampa Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a serious problem across the United States, and Florida is no exception. Drunk driving poses a serious risk to drivers, passengers and pedestrians on Florida’s roads. According to data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), about 26% of fatal car crashes in Florida involve alcohol. It’s crucial for Florida drivers to understand the dangers of DUI. They must also understand the effects it can have on everyone involved in a DUI-related accident.
It’s also wise to familiarize yourself with Florida’s laws dictating the punishments for drunk driving. If police arrest you for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you can expect penalties. Hefty fines, license suspension, and even jail time are some of the penalities to consider. You should also know that the punishments for DUI offenses increase with multiple offenses. The Tampa drunk driving accident lawyers at Williams Law, P.A. have years of experience getting compensation for victims of Tampa drunk driving and other DUI accidents.
If you’ve suffered an injury due to a drunk driver, act quickly. Doing so can help secure the compensation you need after a serious accident. The right Tampa DUI accident lawyer can help you secure compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damages, and lost income. Additionally, DUI drivers who break the law repeatedly may even incur punitive damages, further increasing the possible compensation for injured drivers. Contact Williams Law, P.A. if you have experienced an injury from a DUI accident in the Tampa area. Our Tampa drunk driving accident attorneys will be happy to meet with you in a free initial consultation.
Alcohol’s Effects on Drivers
Alcohol is a depressant. Consuming a large quantity of alcohol in a relatively short time leads to various effects. Effects such as drunkenness, slurred speech, diminished motor function, impaired judgment, poorer situational awareness, slower reaction time, and impaired visual perception are all possible. All these symptoms are incredibly dangerous for drivers because they make it impossible to safely operate a vehicle.
Police assess suspected drunk drivers using a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer takes a reading of the suspect’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Any reading over the legal limit of 0.08 will lead to a DUI charge. An officer may conduct a field sobriety test first to ascertain whether or not the driver’s behavior warrants a breathalyzer test. The field sobriety test typically consists of simple tasks the suspect must perform. His or her ability to perform these tasks enables officers to judge motor function acuity, coordination, balance, and mental processing.
Even if you have been drinking, it is unwise to refuse a breathalyzer test. When you receive a Florida driver’s license, you are essentially confirming that you consent to a breathalyzer test if a police officer stops you with probable cause. If the officer’s arrest was lawful, refusing a breathalyzer test results in an immediate license suspension. If the officer did not have probable cause or the arrest was unlawful, then your refusal to take a breathalyzer exam cannot come back to hurt you later.
The Consequences of Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a dangerous choice. It can be fatal for many people, including those who have not been drinking. If you have been the victim of a driver who was driving under the influence we have attorneys who will fight for you. We will undertake investigations that will involve gathering information about what happened during the incident, including police reports, photographs, witness statements, and video of the scene if it exists. We also have experience retrieving breathalyzer results, blood and urine test results, or any medications the driver may have taken.
This process may become more complicated if the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test at the scene. Their blood alcohol level may have dropped by the time they are taken in, and this can affect your case. If this is the situation, your Tampa drunk driving accident attorney may also talk to the person who supplied the driver with alcohol and investigate the driver’s personal history to strengthen your case.
Florida DUI Liability
Usually, an experienced Tampa DUI accident attorney bases a case against a drunk driver around negligence. The driver is obligated to a duty of care toward you and everyone else on the road. By getting behind the wheel, they have assumed a duty to drive responsibly; therefore, by driving drunk, they violated this duty. After proving this, your attorney will prove that the drunk driver was the one who caused your injury.
There are multiple parties that may be liable for an accident due to drunk driving in addition to the driver. The employer of the driver may also be liable if the incident happened in a company vehicle. If a driver was considered to be working during the time of the accident, the employeer may also be held accountable. A third party can also hold partial blame, including businesses or property owners who contributed to the accident.
Florida Dram Shop Laws
Dram shop laws are in place to hold business establishments accountable for contributing to drunk driving. From a legal perspective, these laws exist to prevent negligence on the part of bar and liquor store-owners or employees, who serve alcohol to people they shouldn’t.
Each state has different versions of such laws, and Florida’s are not as strict as many other states. However, Florida’s dram shop laws can be enforced in the following circumstances.
- Selling alcohol to minors. Establishments that serve alcoholic beverages are held under strict liability regarding the sale of alcohol to anyone under 21. If an employee had any knowledge that an eventual drunk driver was underage, the business may be liable.
- Selling to “habitually addicted patrons”. If an employee knew that a customer suffered from alcoholism, and still served the person, the establishment can be held responsible. If such an individual causes a drunk driving accident, the shop owner may be held liable.
Florida Penalties for DUIs and Drunk Driving Accidents
Florida law states that any driver found operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher has committed a DUI offense. A BAC reading of 0.15 or more typically leads to more severe penalties. Committing a DUI while transporting a minor may also have severe penalties.
First DUI Offenses
First DUI Offenses automatically lead to 50 hours of community service, fines between $500 and $1,000, license suspension of 180 days to one year, and even jail time up to six months. First-time DUI offenders will receive harsher punishments with BAC readings over 0.15 or if they had minor passengers in the vehicle at the time of arrest. A second conviction within five years of the first leads to an automatic five-year license suspension, increased fines and a minimum of 10 days in jail.
Subsequent DUI Offenses
After two DUI convictions, the penalties become much more severe. A third conviction within 10 years is a second-degree felony that can lead to up to $10,000 in fines and up to one year in prison. Finally, fourth convictions entail the harshest penalties along with a permanent loss of driver’s license. If the convicted offender hurt or killed anyone while driving under the influence, he or she may face criminal charges. Criminal charges can be pressed on top of civil actions from the victims. A Tampa drunk driving attorney can help determine if you have a case against a negligent drunk driver.
Seeking Compensation for Your Drunk Driving Injuries
If you have been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you may be able to get compensation. This compensation may cover medical expenses if you were physically injured in the accident, loss of wages because you were not able to work due to the incident, and pain and suffering. The DUI accident attorneys at Williams Law P.A, have extensive experience navigating the complexities of Florida DUI cases and dram shop laws. Contact our team of Tampa personal injury lawyers to learn more.