DUI with Property Damage? Don’t Let it Destroy Your Future
Florida imposes harsh penalties upon those drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). Most of us know this. However, most of us are unaware that these penalties can dramatically increase when property damage is involved. This is true even with first-time offenders.
Despite harsher penalties, there are still defenses available to DUI charges involving property damage. If you have been charged with DUI and property damage has been added to the list of accusations against you, it is imperative that you contact an attorney and seek advice on the defenses available for your specific case. Yes, property may have been damaged in your case; but, don’t let this damage destroy your future.
DUI with Property Damage – What Florida Law Says
The State has to essentially prove three elements in order to convict a driver of DUI with property damage. First, the State has to show that a driver was operating a vehicle, driving a vehicle, or in actual control of a vehicle. Second, the State has to show that the driver caused or contributed to causing damage to the property of another person or injury to another person. Finally, the State has to show that the driver was impaired.
The State can meet this impairment burden in either one of three ways. The State can show that the driver was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical substance or controlled substance and their normal facilities were impaired. Or, the State can show that the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Or, the State can show that the driver had a breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
If the State can successfully prove the above elements, then it is likely that a DUI with property damage conviction will result. Under Florida law, this conviction carries severe penalties. A DUI with property damage charge is a misdemeanor of the first degree that can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. As a comparison, a first-time DUI offense without property damage can result in a maximum of six months in jail and/or a maximum penalty of $500.
A DUI with property damage conviction can also include further consequences. These may include community service, probation, and suspension of a driver’s license. Further, the driver may be required to complete a DUI program or have an interlock device installed on his vehicle.
Legal Defenses Available
The good news, from a criminal defense standpoint, is that DUI cases with property damage are defendable. Depending on the particular facts of your case, a valid defense may be at your disposal. At the very least, evidence against you may be able to get called into question or dismissed altogether.
Consider a few examples. A key piece of evidence for prosecutors in these cases is an officer’s accident report. Depending on your case, certain information within this report may have been illegally obtained, or challengeable on other grounds. Further, your case may have included the administration of one or more field sobriety tests. If a test was administered erroneously, then the results stemming from that test could be inadmissible. Finally, the State has to prove in these cases that a person was driving, operating, or in physical control of a vehicle. If no witnesses can be found, a prosecuting attorney may not be able to prove his case.
The main point is that DUI cases involving property damage are serious and may result in severe penalties. However, defenses to a case may be available. If you have been charged with DUI, and your case involves property damage, you should contact one of our skilled attorneys today. Our legal team is committed to building the best defense available for each particular case. Our team can help protect you and your rights. Don’t let a bad situation destroy your future. Call us and let us help.
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