If a drunk driver injures you or someone you love, you have legal rights. Of course, you’ll want to cooperate with any criminal investigation. But drunk drivers face more than criminal charges and penalties. You may file a civil claim to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries.
An experienced Ocala drunk driving accident lawyer at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. can protect your rights and stand up to insurance companies for you. Among our case results, we recovered $2,500,000 for a client who suffered injuries because of a drunk semi-truck driver, and we strive to hold other impaired drivers fully accountable.
Don’t risk your drunk driving civil claim to just any Ocala drunk driving accident attorney. Instead, contact Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A., to meet with a skilled attorney to discuss your claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait to reach out, the more necessary evidence supporting your claim might disappear. Having an attorney on your side as soon as possible increases the chances of you recovering the financial compensation you deserve.
Table of Contents
- Florida’s Criminal Drunk Driving Laws
- Isn’t a Criminal Case Enough?
- Drunk Driving Accident Damages
- Ocala Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
- Call a Skilled Ocala Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Help Today
Florida’s Criminal Drunk Driving Laws
Every time you get in a vehicle and venture out on Florida roads, you put yourself at risk. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), motor vehicle accidents are so often dangerous that there is a one in 114 chance that an individual will suffer severe injuries from one. However, if alcohol is involved, these odds dramatically increase.
Under Florida law, driving under the influence (DUI) includes impairment not only by alcoholic beverages but also by chemical or controlled substances. For example, a DUI can be proven by the impairment of normal faculties or by blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more. If convicted, it doesn’t matter how the at-fault party was determined impaired.
Under criminal laws, the state assesses Florida’s drunk drivers according to the following fine schedule:
For a first conviction:
- Between $500 and $1,000
- For a blood/breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or more, or if there was a minor child in their car, between $1,000 and $2,000
For a second conviction:
- Between $1,000 and $2,000
- For a BAC of 0.15 or more, or if there was a minor child in their car, between $2,000 and $4,000
- Between $2,000 and $5,000
- For a BAC of 0.15 or more, or if there was a minor child in their car, a minimum of $4,000
Fourth or subsequent conviction:
- A minimum of $2,000
- For a BAC of 0.15 or higher, or if there was a minor in their car, a minimum of $4,000
Fines aren’t the only criminal penalty drunk drivers will face. They also face possible imprisonment, perhaps in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program at the judges’ discretion. The perpetrator will be given credit for the term of imprisonment. So, for example, if they are sentenced to nine months of imprisonment but spend three months in a drug abuse treatment program, they will serve six months in prison.
- Imprisonment for six months or fewer
- If BAC was 0.15 or higher, or if there was a minor child in their car, imprisonment for nine months or fewer months
- Imprisonment for nine months or fewer
- If BAC was 0.15 or higher, or if there was a minor child in their car, imprisonment for 12 months or fewer months
- If the second conviction was within five years of the last belief, mandatory imprisonment of a minimum of ten days with at least 48 hours of consecutive confinement
- If the third conviction is within ten years of the last conviction, mandatory imprisonment of a minimum of 30 days with at least 48 hours of consecutive confinement
- If the third conviction is more than ten years after prior conviction, imprisonment for 12 months or fewer
Fourth or subsequent conviction:
If the perpetrator is a habitual/violent offender, they can face imprisonment for up to five years.
Drivers License Revocation
Those convicted of a DUI will also have their driver’s license revoked according to the law:
- First offense (no bodily injury): At least 180 days revocation and up to one year
- First offense with bodily injury: At least three years revocation.
- Second offense within five years from last conviction: Minimum five years revocation Consideration is available for hardship reinstatement after one year.
- Second offense five or more years after a first conviction: Same revocation periods as first offense apply.
- Third offense within ten years of the second conviction: At least ten years revocation Consideration is available for hardship reinstatement after two years.
- Third offense ten or more years after the second conviction: Same revocation periods as first offense apply.
- Fourth conviction, no matter when previous convictions occurred: Mandatory permanent revocation with consideration for hardship reinstatement after five years. The revocation period begins when the driver leaves incarceration.
- DUI manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. Consideration is given for hardship reinstatement after two years if there are no previous DUI-related convictions.
- Manslaughter, DUI serious bodily injury or vehicular homicide convictions: At least three years revocation.
- DUI serious bodily injury having prior DUI conviction: At least five years after the first conviction, the same revocation periods as a first offense apply.
Isn’t a Criminal Case Enough?
While Florida certainly has some strict penalties for drivers who choose to drink and get behind the wheel, the criminal consequences don’t include paying you for all of your damages. Suppose you want justice and to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. In that case, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to any criminal charges the at-fault party faces. An experienced Ocala drunk driving accident attorney can take on this task for you.
While courts conduct criminal and civil cases separately, a criminal conviction can sometimes help recover monetary damages. Your attorney can use the prosecutor’s criminal evidence in your civil case.
Drunk Driving Accident Damages
Damages are the financial representation of your losses, suffering, and inconveniences. Compensable damages include economic or special and non-economic or general.
Economic damages include current and future:
- Lost wages and other income
- Medical expenses, including medications, medical equipment, surgeries, hospital stays, emergency care, ambulance bills, doctor and specialist visits, and physical therapy
- Property damage
- Attorney and legal fees
- Transportation to and from medical appointments
- Help with household tasks such as childcare, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning.
Your Ocala drunk truck driver accident lawyer will add your expenses to determine the economic damages you deserve.
Non-economic damages include current and future:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of a limb or bodily function
However, these damages are more challenging to calculate since they don’t have an inherent or calculable value. Discuss what damages you may recover and how to calculate them with your Ocala drunk driving accident attorney.
Different formulas can determine how much you should receive for your non-economic damages. Keep in mind that the more severe the injuries, the higher value your damages will have. For example, someone who sustained a paralyzing neck injury will receive more than someone who broke their elbow.
While not many car accident cases qualify for punitive damages, drunk driving cases typically do. While compensatory damages compensate injured victims in a car accident, punitive damages punish the offending party. Punitive damages punish and deter the driver and others in the future from participating in the same wanton and egregious behaviors.
Courts only award victims punitive damages in cases when the at-fault party knew their actions were likely to cause severe harm to others. Drunk driving certainly fits the requirements. The punitive damages a judge will award depend on several factors. You can discuss what yours might be worth with your Ocala drunk driving accident attorney.
Ocala Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
What Does an Ocala Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Do?
An Ocala drunk driving accident attorney, along with their staff members, takes on many tasks when pressing your case so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Their duties entail:
- Assessing your claim to determine if you have a case
- Gathering and preserving evidence
- Obtaining police reports and medical records
- Documenting your economic damages
- Investigating your accident
- Determining who was liable
- Researching available insurance policies
- Arranging medical liens if necessary and paying them when your case concludes
- Writing a demand letter to the insurance company
- Interviewing witnesses
- Negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party or their insurance company
- If a full and fair settlement is not possible, litigating your case in court
Our Ocala drunk driving accident lawyers work on contingency fees only. This means you pay nothing unless we settle your case or obtain a court award on your behalf. Let our attorneys take care of your claim so that you can take care of yourself.
What Injuries Do Drunk Drivers Cause?
Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, drunk drivers can cause some very serious and sometimes catastrophic or deadly injuries.
Some of the most common include:
- Facial and eye injuries
- Broken bones such as limbs, ribs, spine, pelvis, and skull
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries
- Chest injuries
After a drunk driving accident, seek medical attention right away. Many of these injuries require extensive treatment, surgeries, and hospitalizations. They may also require the injured party to take weeks, months, or even years away from their job to recover. If left undetected, some injuries can become life-threatening.
Additionally, you want medical documentation of your injuries right away. If they aren’t, the at-fault party’s insurance company may try to say they are the result of something else you did after the accident already occurred. After a drunk driver hits you, make medical care your first priority. Your second should be to call a qualified Ocala drunk driving accident lawyer for legal advice.
How Do We Investigate Drunk Driving Accidents?
When you retain our law firm, we get right to work investigating any alcohol-related accident. Our Ocala drunk driving accident lawyers have substantial experience handling drunk driving accident claims. We will investigate the at-fault party’s criminal history and driving record to determine whether they had prior DUIs or traffic violations.
In addition, we will seek discovery from the current criminal drunk driving case for crucial evidence concerning their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, field sobriety tests, witness and police officer statements, and where they drank before they got behind the wheel.
Additionally, we will look for video surveillance footage of the accident, such as on traffic cameras or stores that have video surveillance. The drunk driver may try to skirt their responsibility by fleeing the scene in a hit and run. Law enforcement officers may still track the drunk driver down. Suppose the drunk driver leaves the scene and police officers do not find them. In that case, your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy (UM), if you have one, should provide coverage for the collision.
Call a Skilled Ocala Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer for Help Today
We are skilled negotiators and settle most claims we handle before they go to trial. However, if the defendant fails to offer the compensation you deserve, we will gladly represent you through the litigation phase.
Call us today at (800) BAGEN LAW or online for your confidential and free drunk driving accident case consultation with an experienced Ocala drunk driving accident attorney. We have helped drunk driving accident victims and their families seek financial recovery for over three decades. We want to do the same for you.
1521 S Pine Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471
My experience was more than great, from the moment I acquired about their services to the moment my case was finalized and settled, there was steady communication, and I was consistently in the loop. They explain things to you in a way that you can understand and ensure that you are involved in the decision making. Everyone is super kind and stays in contact with you even after settling. They truly care about your well being and I will definitely keep them at the top of the list for any other cases.