In Florida and other cases, there are legal ramifications when a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) accident leads to the personal injuries or death of a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. Even a few drinks can lead to a serious crash and have an impact on the lives of accident victims and family members. Here are the legal cases that may be involved with a DUI accident that result in personal injuries and / or a wrongful death:
1. Criminal Case. The local police and State Attorney's office can prosecute a driver for DUI under the applicable criminal statutes. Florida has an established .08 alcohol level as the presumed impairment level for a person who drinks and then drives. Keep in mind that a person who has been charged with a DUI is entitled to representation from a Florida Criminal Defense attorney or the Public Defender's office. Evidence can be challenged and questioned as part of the criminal defense on the case. While restitution can be part of a plea deal or sentence, restitution is typically limited to out of pocket expenses rather than those associated with pain, suffering, mental anguish, and related damages. The family of a injured person or deceased person from a DUI incident can have input into the prosecution of the criminal defense but the ultimate decision as to a plea deal is left to the State Attorney / Prosecutor and then to the Judge presiding on the criminal case. The results or resolution of the criminal case are not necessarily binding on the pursuit of a civil case for damages / injuries caused by the DUI automobile accident.
2. Driver's License. There are specific Florida Statutes in place that deal with the suspension or revocation of a driver's license following a DUI accident. The suspension of the driver's license is often times connected to the criminal case. The administration and supervision of the issuance of driver's licenses is handled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This is technically an administrative type of proceeding which is different than the civil and / or criminal case involving the Florida DUI Automobile Accident.
3. Civil Case. Unlike the criminal case which is initiated by the local police / State Attorney and the administrative case which is, in part, supervised by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a civil case is initiated by the accident victim or family of the accident victim. Typically, a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer is called in to represent the accident victim and / or the family. The legal standard for a civil DUI accident case is the preponderance of evidence. In other words, the Plaintiff must prove that the case seeking damages is supported by the greater weight of the evidence. While there is no legal requirement that insurance be in place to pursue a civil case, most attorneys will focus the case on the available insurance in place. Like other legal matters, each Florida DUI Accident case must be evaluated on its own merits, facts, and circumstances.
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