Drunk Driving Accidents: What You Need to Know

If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, it’s important to understand your rights so you can get the compensation you deserve.

It’s no secret that alcohol and driving don’t mix. Despite decades of education and significant progress in reducing this crime, drunk driving is still a serious issue. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported 5,522 confirmed alcohol-related crashes in 2015 alone. Of those incidents, 1,936 resulted in injury and 460 caused at least one fatality.

What makes drinking and driving particularly heinous, however, is that it’s completely preventable. Injured parties are often innocent motorists, cyclists or pedestrians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you’re one of these people, let us first say that we’re truly sorry. Nobody deserves to be put in a position of personal and financial suffering because of someone’s careless actions. If you are the victim, you have recourse to obtain compensation for medical expenses and lost wages that result.

Related: Criminal Defense Lawyer Vero Beach website

If you are involved in an accident with an impaired driver

A car accident of any kind is disorienting, much less one with a drunk driver. If you are injured in a car accident with a DUI driver, your health and safety are your top concerns. Remain calm and follow these recommended steps:

– Notify law enforcement immediately and retain a copy of your accident report.

– Seek medical assistance even if your injuries are not immediately apparent. It can often take hours or days to feel the lasting effects of an automobile accident.

– Take photographs of the accident scene and of your injuries. They will be helpful for your case later.

– Document your medical care as well as any related expenses, such as time or travel. Also, make a note of any issues related to your recovery.

– Talk to an experienced Tampa attorney to protect your rights.

Understanding Criminal and Civil Lawsuits in Drunk Driving Accident Cases

The term “lawsuit” is a generic word for suing an offending party, but there’s much more to it. There are two major categories to consider: criminal lawsuits and civil lawsuits.

In a criminal case, the State files suit against the defendant, seeking legal punishment. In a drunk driving case, this usually involves fines, incarceration or both. Aside from testifying as a witness, victims have no control over the proceedings.

More importantly, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any monetary compensation unless ordered by a judge. You can, however, bring a civil lawsuit against the defendant, even if he or she is acquitted of the crime.

In a civil suit, winning or losing depends on whether the plaintiff (you) can prove that the defendant’s actions contributed to, or directly caused, damage. Damage includes harm to your person, your property, or monetary loss. Winning your case will not result in jail time or other criminal punishments for the defendant.

Why You Need a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

One of the biggest mistakes an individual can make following a drunk driving accident is to file a lawsuit without the help of an attorney. Starting proceedings on your own slows down the legal process, increasing the time it will take to receive compensation – if you even win. Attempting such a complex task with no prior expertise will dramatically reduce the chances of success.

If you’re concerned about legal fees, it’s important to know that most personal injury lawyers, like the experienced legal team at Kinney, Fernandez & Boire, work on contingency. An attorney that works on contingency will not require payment up front. In addition, they will not send you an invoice if you lose the case. If you win, the settlement will be used to pay any legal costs and a portion will be paid to your attorney.

Accidents with Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers

Florida law requires drivers to carry both personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Still, some drivers may be hitting the roads uninsured or underinsured. A 2014 Insurance Research Council report found that an estimated 3.2 million uninsured drivers in Florida. The state ranks as the second highest for uninsured motorists in the U.S.  

If the drunk driver in your car accident case falls into either of these categories, you can still potentially be compensated. Claims against an uninsured or underinsured driver are filed through Florida’s Bureau of Motorist Compliance.

Your Rights as a Drunk Driving Victim

If you or a loved one are victims of a drunk driver in Florida, you have the right to compensation. In addition, you have certain fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 1 Section 16 of the Florida Constitutional Amendment.

Right to Compensation

While a successful lawsuit can provide significant monetary compensation, these cases also take time. For victims, this is often time that you don’t have when you need money to cover bills. Fortunately, in the interim, you may be eligible for Florida’s Victim Compensation Program. This program provides emergency funds to help victims cover expenses for things like:

• Lost wages

• Medical treatment expenses

• Mental health services

• Funeral expenses

• Property loss

• Additionally, if a loved one has died as a result of a drunk driver, you may be eligible to receive compensation for loss of financial support or funeral expenses.

Right to Be Informed

Article 1 also states that crime victims, including drunk driving, have the right to be kept up to date on the criminal proceedings. If you’re the next of kin to a person killed by an impaired driver, those rights also apply to you.

Right to Be Present

Should you decide to do so, the Florida Constitutional Amendment allows you to be present at any point during the trial. Of course, this isn’t mandatory.

Right to Be Heard

You also have the right to speak during certain points of the criminal proceedings. For example, you can address the accused directly. You can also choose to make a statement regarding how the impaired driver affected you or your loved one.

Individuals involved in a drunk driving accident should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

DUI Stop – Do I Have the Right to Contact a Lawyer

The right to contact a lawyer usually depends on the interview or interrogation process the police officers engage in with the suspect that they believe drank some form of alcohol before or during the travels. When to contact and how is for the person charged with a driving while under the influence charge.

The Miranda Rights

It is during the interview or interrogation process that the local law enforcement officers will read the suspect his or her Miranda Rights. These include the option to hire or contact a lawyer before questioning. However, not all arrests involve this process as some police do not need to question the person to charge him or her. Others have all the evidence necessary when arresting the person through a dash cam, the words the suspect says, and the actions observed by officers. The more evidence the officers have, the less likely any questions are necessary as part of the arrest or charges.

The Questioning

If the police do need to question the person, the officers will read the suspect his or her Miranda Rights first. With this step accomplished, the suspect may then contact a lawyer and wait until he or she arrives before answering any questions other than the preliminary ones. It is important to remain silent during the initial arrest other than answering who the suspect is and identifying information. After this, the less the suspect says or does to incriminate his or her actions or situation, the better he or she may protect the rights available. Once the questioning begins, the lawyer is usually necessary.

The Right to a Lawyer

The individual arrested, stopped or charged with a crime usually does not have the right to a lawyer unless not already in jail or if the police question the person for the suspected crime. During the DUI stop, the driver has no access to a lawyer unless the officer provides the time and a phone call for a legal representative. This may indicate that the person behind the wheel was engaging in drinking alcohol or consumption of drugs during or before entering the vehicle. Then, the police may have enough to take the person to the local precinct for detainment.

Self-Incrimination

While the person stopped by local law enforcement does not usually have the right to speak to a lawyer until after Miranda Rights are read, he or she may remain silent. This could help him or her to avoid self-incrimination. Other than the necessary details, he or she may remain silent and keep from giving the officers any additional data to enforce possible charges of a DUI. However, if the person is intoxicated, he or she may incriminate his or her situation by smell, swaying while moving, slurred speech and other apparent signs that may demonstrate the matter.

The Custodial Interview and the Legal Representation

When the person does face a custodial interview with the local law enforcement officers, he or she then has the right to request and hire a lawyer for these purposes. The legal representation may prevent the person from saying anything to stop any further incrimination. The lawyer may then explain the matter, help the person through the process and explain to the officers what happened during the stop and once the cops detained the driver. It is important to recover from the incident and move forward to defend against any charges or possible evidence that may exist. If the person is innocent, he or she may need to refute inaccurate breathalyzer results.

The person may need to contact a lawyer after leaving the precinct if the cops did not interview him or her. At that point, the legal representative may help build a case to defend against the DUI charges. However, if the officers did not question the suspect, this could lead to stronger evidence used against the person in a criminal charge of DUI within the court of law. Through the use of a dash cam, incriminating verbal communication and the actions of the suspect, defending against the charges may become significantly more difficult.

Legal Help with a DUI Charge

Hiring a lawyer is often important if the person charged with a DUI has more than one in his or her driving record. The consequences are often severe to include suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. Additional penalties may incur fines or possible jail time without the services of a lawyer to mitigate the damage.

Expunging DUI Convictions- Is This Possible?

In specific circumstances, it is conceivable to erase DUI feelings from the record of the individual. Nonetheless, this sentenced individual typically just has one opportunity to do as such, and the person in question may not achieve this objective of expungement relying upon the kind of DUI conviction and whatever other irritating elements that raised the issue above straightforward driving affected by liquor or medications. 

What Is Expungement? 

In specific circumstances and states, the individual sentenced for a driving affected by medications or liquor may expel it from their criminal record. These feelings regularly hurt the individual’s life, vocation and even connections now and again. In the event that the sentenced individual has only one DUI or is increasingly cautious about driving and savoring the future, it is conceivable to look for the expungement if the state grants it. At that point, it tidies up the record and may not show up in normal historical verifications except if the individual works for the administrative or state government. 

The DUI Conviction 

A DUI conviction happens when the nearby police capture 

the individual with sensible doubt that the driver has smashed liquor or expended drugs. The indictment can put forth the defense effectively and guarantee that the individual faces the fundamental punishments that may incorporate correctional facility, fines and recovery programs. The DUI may remain on the individual’s record for all time, for quite a long while or could vanish through expungement relying upon the conditions. More often than not, the individual will have a DUI offense conviction except if the person carried out different violations or had bothered components appended. 

The One Expungement Chance 

For an individual that has a drinking issue or that keeps on drinking and drive, the person might need to hold up until plainly a DUI allegation or conviction is preposterous once more. This driver typically just has one change to cancel their record from DUI feelings. The legal advisor employed for these reasons may disclose this to the litigant and that it is a conceivable out from the charge. The issue may help in clearing the record to help with work or different concerns where a historical verification could cause hurt as a result of the conviction on the present criminal record. 

What Are Felony DUI Convictions? 

In different states, the charges for crime DUI infringement may lift to lawful offense allegations. These normally happen because of the state necessities of the wrongdoing and different factors, for example, the damage or passing of someone else. Property decimation may likewise cause crime DUI accusations. The punishments are regularly progressively serious, and the probability of erasing the conviction may end up unimaginable if the state doesn’t allow this for crime DUI feelings. The sentences may likewise put the individual in jail or correctional facility for a period with higher fines and extra projects at the expense of the indicted individual. 

Expunging the Record 

To look to erase the DUI record, the individual initially should decide whether the individual is qualified. This may require help through a legal counselor right away. The legitimate proficient may need to check the present condition of living arrangement, prerequisites for expungement and if the DUI is and will stay a wrongdoing. At that point, the gathering must document a request to the courts for an expungement of DUI records. Fruitful procedures will seal the records and expel the DUI from the individual’s criminal history. Sadly, the expungement won’t influence any future DUI feelings or certain lawful offense accusations with comparable wrongdoings of drinking and driving or driving while affected by medications. 

Working with a Lawyer to Expunge a DUI Conviction 

The individual generally should employ a legal advisor to research and afterward continue to the expungement of the DUI conviction of their criminal record. This may cost somewhere in the range of $400 to $1000 for one DUI conviction or a basic wrongdoing conviction. In the event that there are different elements included or various DUI feelings, the sum to pay may increment to $1000 to $4000. In any case, these expenses may increment if there is a crime conviction that may continue through expungement. Higher bills may likewise happen with extra time in court or paying specialists and different costs. 

Working with the legal advisor is commonly urgent to look for this expungement. While it’s anything but an assurance that it won’t appear on personal investigations, the expungement may expand odds of better relations with specialists and in vocation or openings for work. It is basic to procure the legal counselor immediately when the individual needs to seek after the expungement.