DUI With Serious Bodily Injury
DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses in Florida and in the country. Anyone from any profession and any background can end up with a DUI arrest, and even many criminal court judges in the state have been charged with DUI. An arrest for DUI can be a stressful and life-altering event. It is important that if it happens to you, that you understand the options on the table and fully appreciate every defense available to you. If you have been charged with DUI, consulting an experienced St. Petersburg DUI attorney can make all the difference in your case.
What many non lawyers fail to realize is that there are several different types of DUI charges. Simple DUI is defined as driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the point your normal faculties are impaired. DUI on its own is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by no more than 180 days in jail and 12 months of probation, along with fines, court costs and several required restrictions. DUI charges, however, may be enhanced depending on whether a crash occurred, whether someone was injured as a result of the DUI, or whether someone was killed. If you have been arrested for DUI and someone suffered serious bodily injury resulting from the DUI, the charges against you could be significantly increased.What is DUI Serious Bodily Injury?
DUI with serious bodily injury is any DUI that causes serious bodily injury to a person other than the defendant. Serious bodily injury is defined as “an injury to a person, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” If you are charged with DUI serious bodily injury, the charge becomes a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison along with increased fines and probationary terms.
Another important consideration regarding DUI cases is that the Florida Legislature has required a mandatory conviction for those found guilty. In Florida, if you are found guilty of a criminal charge, you can receive a withheld adjudication or a conviction. A withheld adjudication can be sealed from your criminal record under certain circumstances. A conviction will stay on your record permanently. Because DUI serious bodily injury is a felony, if you are found guilty and receive a mandatory conviction, you will also become a convicted felon and lose many of your civil rights including the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm. These serious penalties make it all the more necessary that you retain a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to counsel you.Defenses to DUI Serious Bodily Injury
Thankfully, many defenses exist to combat this charge. Because the crime of DUI serious bodily injury is more complicated than simple DUI, more defenses are available to combat the offense. A skilled lawyer can contest the serious bodily injury designation. The definition of serious bodily injury is relatively vague, and prosecutors will charge people with this offense even when the victim suffers comparatively minor injuries. However, courts have interpreted major cuts and abrasions, and even broken bones to be NOT serious bodily injuries. Your lawyer can conduct an investigation and interpret medical records in order to determine whether or not someone actually suffered the type of injury required to charge someone under this statute.
Another aspect of this charge that is ripe for defense is causation. On a simple DUI, if you are involved in an accident, the fault for the accident is irrelevant. For example, if a sober driver is distracted by a cell phone and is 100% at fault for an accident with a drunk driver, the drunk driver can and will still be charged with DUI. However, if the sober driver is seriously injured in the crash, the drunk driver should not be charged with DUI serious bodily injury because he or she did not actually cause the injuries.Speak to the DUI Defense Lawyers at Hanlon Law Today
The DUI Criminal defense lawyers at Hanlon Law have years of experience defending people charged with DUI. If you find yourself facing these charges, you should call us today for a consultation at 727.897.5413.