About DUIs Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Understanding the Burden of Proof

In any criminal case, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, not the defendant. The legal theory of “burden of proof” also holds that a person disputing a fact is not obligated to provide evidence that supports the fact they do not support. In other words, the accused is not obligated to provide evidence that weakens their case. The responsibility to provide evidence is with the prosecutor.

It will be the job of the prosecution to prove the following:

  • You were driving the vehicle
  • You had a BAL over 0.08 percent or were impaired
  • You caused the car accident
  • The victim was injured
  • Their injuries were caused by the accident

DUIs Causing Serious Injury

Serious bodily injury is defined as any injury that causes a physical condition that creates a risk of personal disfigurement or death, or the risk of a loss or impairment of any bodily member’s or organ’s function. A serious injury caused by a car accident could include dismemberment, spinal cord damage, or even traumatic brain injury. When these types of injuries are a factor in a DUI case, defendants face harsher penalties.

Types of DUI injury cases include the following.

  • DUI Causing Injury: Generally a felony offense, DUI causing injury may be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The driver must be found guilty of not only driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs but also of causing the accident.

  • DUI Manslaughter: Often referred to as vehicular manslaughter, this involved killing another person by causing an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This felony offense may be punishable by up to 15 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

  • Hit & Run: Leaving the scene of an accident may or may not be directly related to drunk driving. A driver who stands accused of leaving the scene of an accident may face felony hit and run charges, especially if charged in tandem with a DUI. Committing DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of the accident is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Reasonable Force for Drug & Alcohol Tests

Any DUI that resulted in a serious bodily injury will allow law enforcement officers to use reasonable force to require a person to submit to a blood test to determine their blood alcohol level at the time of the accident. However, the legality of these practices is under debate. The law only provides guidelines for what is a serious bodily injury—not a solid outline of the types of injuries that qualify.

As a result, the case will hinge on the medical judgment of the arresting officer. In State v. Schreiber, the arresting officer took a forced draw after he failed to read the defendant her rights. It was later determined in court that the injuries experienced during the accident did not qualify as serious bodily injuries. The resulting blood draws were therefore suppressed and were not able to be used against the defendant.

Why You Should Contact a Tampa DUI Lawyer

When your future is on the line, you cannot afford to work with an inexperienced attorney. Having an experienced lawyer will bring the knowledge needed to protect your rights. With over two decades of combined experience, Thomas & Paulk, P.A. knows what you are up against and will fight to preserve your future. Speak with us today to learn about your options.

Contact our Tampa DUI accident attorneys today at (813) 321-7323 for a consultation of your case.

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Have You Been Charged with a DUI?

DUI Defense in Florida

At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.

The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.

  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.

  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.

  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.

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