Fort Walton Beach Felony Traffic Attorney
If you are looking for an attorney to help you with a speeding ticket, an expired tag, or a suspended driver’s license, this page will not be very helpful. However, if you have been charged with a felony traffic crime in Fort Walton Beach or Okaloosa County, or if you are under investigation, keep reading.
Felony traffic offenses such as Hit and Run, Fleeing and Eluding, DUI with Injury, and DUI Manslaughter are usually committed by people who have never been in trouble before. Good people who never in a million years thought they would need to hire a criminal defense attorney. We understand that you are scared and worried about what’s going to happen. Whether you are a local Fort Walton Beach resident, a military member, or a visitor from out of town, you have come to the right place to get the help you need.
We will defend you. Not judge you.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Walton Beach since 2001. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. She has worked with me since 2007. We focus our practice 100% on criminal defense. We are ready to help you, so call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.
What should I do if the police want to talk to me about a traffic accident involving an injury or death in Fort Walton Beach?
If you are being investigated for a Hit and Run/Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or a DUI with Injury or Death, our #1 piece of advice is do not talk to the police. You have the right to remain silent and you should exercise that right at all times.
Our second piece of advice is to pick up the phone and call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097. We can offer a layer of protection by telling the police you are represented by an attorney. Once the police know that you are represented by an attorney, they are not allowed to talk to you, or try to manipulate you into incriminating yourself. This can make a huge difference in the eventual outcome in your case.
Felony Traffic Offenses in Fort Walton Beach
Any of the following felony traffic offenses in Fort Walton Beach or Okaloosa County can lead to a lengthy prison sentence and/or a permanent felony conviction on your record:
Hit and Run/Leaving the Scene of an Accident
When someone is in an accident where someone was injured or killed, the law requires a duty to remain on scene to exchange information and to render aid to anyone that has been hurt. If you are accused of leaving the scene before the police arrive, you will be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident. If there was an injury, the charge is a 3rd degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. If there was serious bodily injury, the charge is a 2nd degree felony with a potential 15 year prison sentence. If there was a death, the charge is a first degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in prison per death.
In order to convict you of Leaving the Scene of an Accident, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you left the scene knowing that an accident had occurred and that someone had been injured or killed.
For more information about Hit and Run charges in Fort Walton Beach, click here.
Fleeing and Eluding
When the police are trying to pull someone over, they expect you to pull over right away. If you don’t, they will charge you with Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement. This charge is a felony offense under Florida law. In order to convict, the State must prove that the driver willfully failed to pull over after being ordered to do so by an officer in a clearly marked patrol vehicle that had its lights and siren activated.
Fleeing or Eluding is a 3rd degree felony with a potential 5 year prison sentence. If the State alleges that you fled from the police at a high rate of speed that put the other drivers on the road at risk, you face a 2nd degree felony with a maximum 15 year prison sentence. If someone died or suffered serious injury during the high-speed chase, the maximum sentence is raised to 30 years in prison with a mandatory minimum 3 years in prison.
For more information about Fleeing or Eluding Law Enforcement in Fort Walton Beach, click here.
DUI with Serious Bodily Injury
In addition to the regular elements of a DUI charge, the State will be required to prove that the victim suffered injuries likely to cause great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement. Broken bones, or even injuries that required surgery will not necessarily qualify as serious bodily injury.
DUI with Serious Bodily injury is a 3rd degree felony punishable by 5 years in prison. Under Florida sentencing guidelines, it carries a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison if convicted.
For more information about DUI with Serious Bodily Injury charges in Fort Walton Beach, click here.
If the State can prove that you were intoxicated to the point that your normal faculties were impaired, and that you caused an accident that led to someone dying, you face the charge of DUI Manslaughter.
Under Florida law, DUI Manslaughter is a 2nd degree felony with a potential penalty of 15 years in prison. If you fled the scene of the accident, or failed to assist a victim on scene, the maximum penalty is increased to 30 years in prison.
For more information about DUI Manslaughter charges in Fort Walton Beach, click here.
Talk to a Fort Walton Beach Felony Traffic Attorney
These charges shouldn’t be taken lightly. They demand a careful and thoughtfully planned defense strategy. We’ve been defending Fort Walton Beach residents, military personnel, and out of town visitors since 2001. We know what is at stake and how important it is to get this right.
If you have been charged with Hit and Run, Fleeing and Eluding, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, or DUI Manslaughter, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097.