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DUI » DUI Accidents » DUI Causing Injury

DUI Causing Injury

Tampa, FL Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer

What is DUI causing injury? This felony DUI offense is charged against a driver who stands accused of causing an auto accident that in turn causes serious bodily injury to another person, while that driver was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. To be considered "under the influence," the driver would need to have an unlawful blood alcohol level, as proven by a breath or blood test, of 0.08 percent or greater and / or abilities that were impaired due to alcohol or drug use, as proven by field sobriety tests and other factors.

Legal Definition of "Serious Bodily Injury"

Charges like this are based upon the idea that the defendant's drunk driving caused a "serious bodily injury." However, what exactly does that mean? Per §316.1933 of the Florida Statutes, serious bodily injury is defined as an injury that could have resulted in death, caused disfigurement and / or the loss or impairment of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty. This is also a term that has found meaning through case and common law.

So how does this affect your DUI case?

If the law enforcement at the scene of the accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death has reason to believe that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and / or controlled substances, they have the right to demand a blood test. Per the F.S., they "may use reasonable force if necessary." This is known as a forced blood draw and can have a severe impact on the overall impact of your case.

Case law dictates that the officer can use "common sense" to determine when an accident resulted in a serious bodily injury. What, however, if it didn't? What if you were subjected to a forced blood draw for a minor bruise or scrape? This was demonstrated in 2003 during State v. Schreiber. During this case, the defendant was subjected to a force blood draw after having suffered from two fractured ankles. The appellate court upheld the trial court's decision to suppress the evidence from the test, stating that the fractures did not constitute as a serious bodily injury and, therefore, did not give reason for the forced draw.

What are the penalties for a DUI with injury?

The serious nature of a DUI causing injury charge makes it all the more important to involve a DUI lawyer in Tampa who can help you avoid a conviction. In Florida, a driver may face third degree felony charges for driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury. This degree of felony offense is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and / or a fine of up to $5,000. In addition to facing the immediate penalties associated with a conviction, a defendant may face a future limited by having a felony conviction on his or her record. This may impact employment and educational opportunities as well as one's reputation and even housing or financial matters.

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