Injured by a drunk driver in Florida? Is this a civil or criminal matter?

Categories: Personal Injury Law

In the state of Florida, as in many other states, a “driving under the influence” (or DUI) offense can be a serious legal matter with significant consequences. But, you may be wondering whether a DUI is considered a criminal offense or a civil matter? At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we understand the importance of clarifying this important distinction, as it can have a substantial impact on your rights and the legal process. Depending on the circumstances, a DUI can be properly categorized as either a criminal offense, a civil offense, or both.

More importantly, if you or a loved one suffered an injury stemming from a car accident involving a drunk driver, it is advisable to talk with an injury lawyer as soon as possible. While a DUI can result in serious criminal penalties for the at-fault driver, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can make a substantial difference in your civil case.

Driving Under the Influence as a Criminal Offense

A DUI is primarily considered to be a criminal offense in the state of Florida. When an individual is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it falls under the category of criminal law. Criminal offenses are acts that violate the state’s criminal statutes and may result in penalties such as fines, probation, imprisonment, and a criminal record.

Here are some key points to consider regarding the criminal aspects of a DUI conviction in Florida:

  • Criminal Penalties: A DUI conviction in Florida can lead to criminal penalties, including fines, probation, community service, license suspension, or even jail time, depending on the circumstances and whether the person charged has previous DUI convictions.
  • Criminal Record: A DUI conviction will result in a criminal record, which can have long-lasting consequences for employment, housing, and other aspects of life.
  • Court Proceedings: DUI cases are typically handled in criminal courts, where a defendant is entitled to legal representation, and the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Misdemeanor or Felony: Depending on the specific circumstances of the DUI, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Multiple DUI convictions or DUIs that result in serious injury or death are more likely to be charged as felonies.

The criminal nature of a DUI can also play a significant factor in a related civil action or insurance claim. Drunk drivers will face serious criminal consequences, but criminal penalties are not the only consequence. If a drunk or impaired driver injured you, you may be entitled to compensation, and a DUI conviction can bolster the strength of your insurance claim or legal proceeding. An experienced injury attorney can help you understand how to appropriately pursue legal remedies against an impaired driver and their insurance company.

Driving Under the Influence as a Civil Matter

While a DUI is primarily considered a criminal offense, it also carries civil consequences, which are often closely intertwined with the criminal aspects. The civil consequences of a DUI typically revolve around administrative actions taken by the state motor vehicle department regarding an individual’s driver’s license. If a DUI results in an automobile accident where someone is injured, it may have a substantial impact on any resulting civil lawsuit.

Here are some factors to consider regarding the civil implications stemming from a DUI:

  • License Suspension: Upon arrest for a DUI, your driver’s license may be suspended immediately. This administrative suspension is separate from any criminal penalties and is intended to deter individuals from driving while impaired.
  • Administrative Hearing: You have the right to request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of your license, but it must be requested within a specific timeframe. You should always consider consulting with an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process.
  • Civil Lawsuits: If you were injured in an accident caused by someone who was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be able to argue that the accident is the result of negligence per se. The legal doctrine of negligence per se means that the elements of duty and breach are established, and all that is left to prove in the case will be causation and damages. The trained legal professionals at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers have helped hundreds of accident victims, including victims of DUI crashes, navigate the legal system’s complexities to recover from car crashes.

So, if you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident caused by someone intoxicated, you should consider reaching out to a trusted injury lawyer. The intoxicated driver will most likely face criminal penalties for driving under the influence. Still, any DUI conviction or plea agreement could have an impact on any prospective insurance claim or legal action you might bring. Consulting with an attorney will place you in the best position to obtain a fair and reasonable insurance settlement, or to pursue legal action, if necessary.

In addition to the administrative penalties against impaired drivers in Florida, a DUI conviction also carries significant civil consequences. This is particularly true if your attorney is able to argue that an accident, and your injuries, are the result of an intoxicated driver’s negligence per se. For these reasons, it is important to understand the dual nature of a DUI and its potential legal repercussions on both criminal and civil proceedings. When you discuss your case with the team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we can help you understand how to best seek compensation from a drunk driver and their insurance company. You shouldn’t be left alone to recover from injuries caused by a drunk driver.

When you find yourself injured by an intoxicated driver in Florida, seeking legal representation from an experienced attorney like those at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers is crucial. Let our team of professionals help you navigate the complex legal landscape and work to protect your rights and minimize the impact on your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free case consultation, and let us put you in the best position to Demand More!

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About the Author: Brian D. Guralnick

Brian D. Guralnick has been successfully representing injured accident victims in Florida since 1993. He has been voted “Best of the Best” personal injury lawyer by the Palm Beach Post for multiple years. If you have been injured in any type of accident, please call Brian and his team 24/7 at 561-202-6673.