A DUI charge without an injury is serious enough. If you were in an accident where someone was hurt, the police probably took a blood sample from you, or your blood was drawn at the hospital. Either way, if the results indicate that you were under the influence, you will likely be charged with DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. As serious as this charge is, it is important for you to realize that you have options. Options that could mean the difference between you going free or spending the next five years in prison.

My name is Tim Flaherty. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. We are Felony DUI defense attorneys in Fort Walton Beach. Criminal & DUI Defense is the only type of law we practice. If you have already been arrested, or you are under investigation, for DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, we can help you. Give Brandy or I a call at (850) 243-6097 to see what we can do for you.

What if the Police Want to Question Me About an Accident in Fort Walton Beach Where Someone Got Hurt?

dui defense attorney floridaThe most important piece of advice we can give you is do not talk to the police without an attorney present. The police are allowed to lie to you and manipulate you into incriminating yourself.

The police might also request that you agree to provide a sample of your breath, blood, or urine. Or, they might ask for permission to search your vehicle. Do not agree to any of this without talking to an attorney first.

Note: we are not suggesting that you resist the police or fight with them in any way. We are simply advising you not to give consent to such searches. If the police conduct an illegal search of your person or your property, we might be able to challenge this search in court. However, if you consent, you give up that right to challenge the search.

Florida Law Regarding DUI With Serious Bodily Injury

Before discussing the specifics of what is required to prove serious bodily injury in Fort Walton Beach DUI charges, it’s helpful to understand the definition of a “standard” DUI. That definition is found in Florida Statute chapter 316.193:

a person is guilty of driving under the influence if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and the person is under the influence of alcohol or chemical substances to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired.

What Level of Injury Is Required to Prove Serious Bodily Injury?

Under Florida law, Serious Bodily Injury (SBI) is injury to any person, even the driver, 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.

This means that even an injury to your own body can be used to allege Serious Bodily Injury.

Fort Walton Beach DUI With Serious Bodily Injury Penalties

This charge is a third degree felony offense. Possible penalties include:

  • Up to five years in prison.
  • Five years on probation.
  • $5,000.00 fine
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for at least three years.
  • Under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, DUI with SBI is a level 7 offense which requires a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison unless the judge finds a valid basis for a Downward Departure, which gives a reduction in the sentence.
  • The level of injury can elevate the sentence.
    • If the level of the victim’s injury is classified as slight injury, the minimum sentence will be 24 months.
    • If the victim’s injuries are characterized as moderate, the minimum sentence will be 34.5 months.
    • If the victim suffered severe injury, the minimum sentence you face will be 51 months.

How Will You Defend Me if I Am Charged With DUI With Serious Bodily Injury in Fort Walton Beach?

At Flaherty & Merrifield, a large percentage of our cases are serious felony offenses. We have extensive experience defending clients in front of all of our Okaloosa County felony (circuit court) judges. Just because an attorney claims to be a “dui specialist”, that does not mean they are equipped to defend a client charged with a serious felony.

In criminal cases, there is no cookie-cutter defense that applies to every case. Defending criminal cases is more of an art than a science. Brandy and I spend a lot of time analyzing our cases and building custom defenses that fit the specific facts and circumstances of each case.

That careful analysis starts with the following:

  • We will review all video evidence, witness statements, police radio logs, police reports, and Intoxilyzer record.
  • We will examine the alleged victim’s medical records to determine whether the injuries are serious enough to qualify as serious bodily injury.
  • We will work closely to develop mitigating evidence that allows us to present you in a positive light.
  • We will file appropriate motions in court, including Motions to Suppress and Motions to Dismiss.
  • We will negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or a plea that avoids jail time and a felony conviction.
  • We will prepare for trial from day one in case negotiations fall apart.

Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 403-6835 for a free consultation.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney