Drunk Driving Accidents in Florida

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol is a factor in over 17,000 vehicleDrunk Driving Accidents in Florida accidents every year in Florida. Alcohol is also a factor in more than 30 percent of Florida traffic fatalities. In 2012, 818 Florida motorists died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents.

Florida Drinking and Driving Laws

In Florida, it is considered driving under the influence (DUI) if a driver over the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. If a driver is under the age of 21, there is a zero tolerance provision and any blood alcohol test yielding above .02 can be cause for arrest. Drivers of commercial vehicles are subject to stricter penalties than other drivers, and can be arrested for a blood alcohol content of .04 or greater. If any amount of alcohol is in the driver’s system in the case of an accident, the accident can be considered “alcohol-related.”

Florida DUI Penalties

DUI penalties become stricter as repeat offenses occur. The first time an individual is convicted of a DUI, the driver may serve up to nine months in jail, have the vehicle impounded for ten days, and have the driver’s license suspended for six months. Fines of $500-$2000 are often assessed, DUI school is ordered, and the driver may be required to do 50 hours of community service. As repeat offenses occur, fines, jail time, and the amount of time which the license is suspended for progressively increase. After four DUIs, offenders are no longer eligible to have a license reinstated and may be required to serve up to five years in prison.

Drunk Driving Accident Charges

Any driver that causes damage or injury while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Florida is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. Habitual DUI offenses may be considered third degree felony offenses. Serious bodily injury to other motorists may also be considered a felony. If a drunk driving accident causes fatal injuries, it is considered a felony. Fatal drunk driving accidents may be considered vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. Leaving the scene of the accident and failure to render aid to victims may result in more serious charges.

Drunk Driving Accident Liability

Anyone that causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol is considered negligent. If drivers and passengers are injured or killed in accidents caused by a drunk driver, the drunk driver is liable for all costs associated with the accident. This may include vehicle damage, medical costs, and funeral costs in the case of wrongful death.

Third Party Liability

Individuals or entities that contributed to a driver’s intoxication may also be liable for damages incurred in a drunk driving accident. This may include bars or restaurants that continued to serve an intoxicated patron. Establishments that serve alcohol are obligated to exercise due care when serving alcohol in order to reduce drunken driving accidents and DUIs. Third party liability may also fall on hosts of private parties. If a driver is under the age of 21, charges may be more severe for supplying alcohol to an underage driver.

Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents

In order to help prevent drunk driving accidents by habitual offenders, Florida law now requires drivers that have been convicted of a DUI to have an ignition interlock installed in the vehicle once the driver’s license has been reinstated. An ignition interlock requires drivers to breathe into the device in order to start the car. The driver must breathe into the device approximately five minutes after the car has been started and again ever 30 minutes while the vehicle is in operation. The information obtained from ignition interlock devices is sent directly to the Florida DMV.

Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits Florida

Victims of drunk driving accidents are encouraged to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Statute of Limitations laws may limit the amount of time in which an accident victim can file a claim against a drunk driver. These laws may vary according to the specific circumstances of the case and may change periodically, so an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to provide the best advice for filing a lawsuit within the given time frame.




“Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” Traffic Safety Facts 2012 Data. U.S. Department of Transportation, 1 Dec. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
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“Florida DUI Laws and Penalties.” DMV Florida. DMV Florida.org, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
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“Florida Ignition Interlock Program.” DMV Florida. DMV Florida.org, 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
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“Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report 2012.” A Safer Florida: Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. State of Florida, 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2014.
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