When most people think of a traffic offense, they think of a speeding ticket, or maybe an expired tag. Most people don’t think of traffic charges being a felony, but in Okaloosa County and throughout Florida, there are several different felony traffic crimes.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer in Okaloosa County. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. If you’ve already been charged, or you’re under investigation, for Hit and Run, Fleeing and Eluding Law Enforcement, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, or DUI Manslaughter, call the Okaloosa County felony traffic offense lawyers with Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097.
Helping You Feel Better About Your Situation, Not Worse
Clients that face felony traffic offenses are usually first time offenders. We understand that you probably never imagined you would need to hire a criminal lawyer. One thing we have learned over the years is that sometimes good people make mistakes. Sometimes good people are in the wrong place at the wrong time and get falsely accused.
If you have been in trouble before, that’s ok too. It is not our place to judge anyone; it is our job to do the best we can to help you. Even if no one else is standing by your side, we’ll be right there with you every step of the way.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Okaloosa County or you were here on vacation. Either way, you need help and you have come to the right place to get it. If you’re a military member, we understand what is at stake if you get convicted of a felony.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself
If you don’t follow any other advice, please remember this: if the police contact you about a pending investigation for Hit and Run, Fleeing or Eluding Law Enforcement, or any other felony traffic offense on Okaloosa County, they are not your friend. Protect yourself and tell them you will not give a statement without your attorney present.
Instead of incriminating yourself, call us. We will reach out to the police officer and let them know that you will not talk without your attorney present. That should stop them from harassing you at home or at work.
Once we have the cops off your back, we will talk about whether it makes sense to give the police a statement (with us present). In most cases, we advise against it, but there are some limited circumstances where it might be helpful. One way or another, we will explain the pros and cons of each option and let you make the decision.
Felony Traffic Offenses in Okaloosa County
If you are convicted of any of the following felony traffic offenses, you are facing a possible jail or prison sentence along with a felony conviction that will stay on your record forever:
Hit and Run/Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Anyone that has been in an accident is required to provide their information and render aid to anyone who has been injured. Failure to do so can result in a charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident. If the accident resulted in an injury or death, it is a felony offense with a potential sentence of between 5 and 30 years in prison. In order for the State to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they must be able to show that the defendant knew or should have known that the accident took place, and that someone was injured or killed.
For more information about Hit and Run charges in Okaloosa County, click here.
Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement
If you don’t pull over when the police are trying to stop you, you face the felony offense of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement. The State is required to prove that the officer was in a clearly marked police vehicle with lights AND siren activated. If convicted, the charge carries a potential sentence of 5 years in the department of corrections.
One thing to keep in mind: the State is required to prove that you knew the officer was ordering you to stop your vehicle and that you willfully refused or failed to stop.
If there is an allegation that you drove at a high rate of speed, or that you drove with reckless disregard for the safety of other people, you face a charge of Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in the department of corrections.
If the Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding resulted in death or serious injury, the maximum sentence is increased to 30 years in prison with a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison.
For more information about Fleeing or Eluding charges in Okaloosa County, click here.
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
Under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury at least 56 sentencing points which calculates out to a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison. The maximum sentence is 5 years. Additional points can be added based on the victim’s injuries. Those additional points raise the minimum sentence from 21 months in prison up to 51 months in prison.
In order to convict you of this charge, the State must prove that the injury was serious enough to warrant the charge. Minor injuries, even broken bones, are not enough. We are experienced in examining the level of injury and determining whether the State can prove this element of the charge.
For more information about DUI with Serious Bodily Injury charges in Okaloosa County, click here.
If you were involved in an accident where someone died, and the State can prove that you were intoxicated or impaired, and that you caused the accident, you face the felony charge of DUI Manslaughter. DUI Manslaughter carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison per victim, with 4 years in prison as a minimum mandatory sentence.
If the State can prove that you also failed to render aid, or that you fled the scene, the maximum sentence is increased to 30 years in prison.
For more information about DUI Manslaughter charges in Okaloosa County, click here.
Get answers from an Okaloosa County Felony Traffic Lawyer
Your best chance of success is to work closely with local criminal defense attorneys who can develop a customized defense plan that fits the facts of your case.
If you have been charged with Fleeing or Eluding, Leaving the Scene of an Accident or a DUI with Injury or Death in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.