DUI with Serious Bodily Injury in Okaloosa County
No one plans on getting behind the wheel after a few drinks and getting into an accident. And if someone was injured in the accident, the guilt can be overwhelming. If you find yourself in this situation after a DUI accident in Okaloosa County, it is vital that you take steps immediately to protect yourself.
If you were in an accident where someone was injured and there was a suspicion that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, do not wait until charges have been filed. Get out in front of this and call Flaherty Defense Firm today. We are an experienced felony DUI team in Okaloosa County and we are ready to put our 16 years of experience to work for you.
What is Driving Under the Influence with Serious Bodily Injury (DUI w/SBI)?
DUI with serious bodily injury is a two prong charge. The first prong is the charge of driving under the influence. The definition of DUI is a person who is in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or chemical substances resulting in the impairment of their normal faculties. Florida’s limit for intoxication is a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
The second prong of this charge is that a person who is under the influence causes or contributes to serious bodily injury to another (or themselves).
This charge is a third degree felony with a potential of up to five years in state prison along with fines, court costs, restitution for injury, driver’s license suspension, and probation.
What type of injury qualifies as serious bodily injury?
Serious bodily injury is defined under Florida law as “an injury to any person, including 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.”
If you are in an accident and you are the sole person injured, you can still be charged with DUI with serious bodily injury. The level of injury is dictated by medical personnel and is classified as slight, moderate, or severe. Many times the level of injury can be mitigated with an experienced attorney.
What sentence could I get for DUI with Serious Bodily Injury?
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury in Okaloosa County automatically scores 56 sentence points. This equates to a minimum state prison sentence of 21 months. It is a felony of the third degree, which means the maximum state prison sentence you could face is five years. There are additional points that will be added to your scoresheet for victim injury. They are listed as follows:
- Severe Injury: 40 points
- Moderate Injury: 18 points
- Slight Injury: 4 points
These points are added to the 56 points for the underlying offense. This addition of points increases the minimum sentence beyond the 21 months in prison that the underlying charge requires. Depending on the injury level, you could be facing a minimum state prison sentence of between 24 months and 51 months if you are convicted.
In addition to the sanctions listed above, your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked for a period of three years if convicted. The three year period will not begin until after you have been released if given a prison sentence.
What can an Okaloosa County DUI attorney do for me?
If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence causing Serious Bodily Injury, you need an Okaloosa County attorney with experience defending felony cases, not just DUI cases. Unlike a standard DUI, this charge has a high potential for prison. Defending an accusation involving serious bodily injury requires finesse and expert legal talent. Our approach for DUI w/SBI cases involves an extensive review of all police reports, witness statements, video/audio evidence, blood draw evidence, medical records, review of the accident sight, and depositions. We prepare cases like this for trial from the beginning. Not all cases go to trial but in our experience this extreme level of preparation grants our clients a greater potential for success. Cases involving serious bodily injury are multi-layered. Issues you are facing in defending a case like this include:
Field Sobriety Testing
With any DUI, field sobriety testing is a standard to determine impairment. If you have ever attempted to perform field sobriety testing you can see that it is designed for failure even for the most dexterous person. The purpose of field sobriety testing is to provide law enforcement a certain number of clues to give them probable cause to arrest you. In cases with serious bodily injury, you may or may not be required to submit to field sobriety testing. You still have the option to refuse. Field sobriety testing with normal faculties is difficult enough. If requested after an accident, the task becomes impossible. Our job as your attorney is to challenge any field sobriety testing and to shoot holes in the police’s probable cause determination based on those tests.
DUI involving serious bodily injury allows law enforcement to forcefully withdraw your blood. This means that you have no right to refuse a blood draw when serious bodily injury is alleged. Law enforcement can withdraw your blood at the scene, in an ambulance, or even while you are unconscious. This would lead you to believe that a conviction is imminent and there is no reason to fight. You could not be more wrong. Law enforcement and hospital personnel have strict criteria they must follow in blood draw cases. If the protocol is not followed, the blood draw can possibly be thrown out with a motion to suppress. Flaherty Defense Firm has successfully handled several blood draw cases. Our team knows the criteria and knows what to look for to ensure that procedure was handled in the way the law intended.
Accident Report Privilege
A common area of misunderstanding in DUI with SBI cases is the accident report. If the allegation of injury stems from an accident, law enforcement’s first step in their investigation is to remedy the accident portion of the case. Law enforcement will ask questions, gather information, and attempt to discern how the accident was caused and how the injury was sustained. Once law enforcement has completed the accident portion of the investigation, they will move to the criminal investigation. A clear line between accident and criminal investigation must be drawn. If law enforcement does not follow procedure delineating between the investigations, we can attack the criminal investigation.
Call an Okaloosa County lawyer for your Felony DUI case
A conviction for DUI with Serious Bodily Injury in Okaloosa County will lead to a prison sentence. Leaving your future in the hands of the overworked public defender or a bottom feeder DUI attorney with no felony experience is equivalent to walking into court and taking a guilty plea. With the complexity of these cases you need an advocate that knows the law, knows the procedure, knows the players, and has a reputation for successfully defending these cases. Emotions will be heightened in a case involving injury. Knowing how to effectively represent someone when faced with an emotionally charged victim or prosecutor is critical to a successful outcome.
We have a reputation for not backing down and not taking the first plea deal offered. Our reputation with the State Attorney and the local judges is that we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients. If you are ready to challenge the allegations against you and protect your future, contact an Okaloosa County DUI with serious bodily injury lawyer at Flaherty Defense Firm today for a free consultation by calling (850) 243-6097.