Driving under the influence (DUI) in Sarasota is a serious offense. If you are arrested and charged, you could be facing multiple penalties along with license suspension or revocation. While many drunk driving incidents originate from a routine traffic stop, in many other cases Florida DUI charges are related to an accident which occurred while you were driving under the influence.

A drunk driving accident can result in serious bodily harm to another, death, and property damage. After such an accident, you could be charged with DUI with serious bodily injury, DUI with property damage, or DUI manslaughter. If you are arrested for any of these charges, it is important that you seek the services of a Sarasota drunk driving accident lawyer.

Florida DUI Accident Charges

In Florida, it is a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol beyond the legal limit. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08% and is determined by the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver. If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, or you exhibit signs of impairment while driving, you will be charged with a DUI-related offense.

However, when there are aggravating factors, such as an accident, a DUI charge can get more serious. Motor vehicle accidents happen quite often and in many instances they result in civil proceedings. If, however, you were driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, your DUI charge could be elevated to one of the following:

  • DUI with serious bodily injury – This charge is a felony and involves a drunk driving accident that resulted in serious injury to another. It does not apply to just mere bruise and scratches but includes disfiguration or impairment of bodily functions.
  • DUI manslaughter – Also a felony charge, DUI manslaughter results from a drunk driving accident where the victim dies.
  • DUI with property damage – If you drive while under the influence and you get into an accident that results in damage to someone’s property, you will be charged with DUI with property damage. The offense is a first-degree misdemeanor.

All three charges carry more serious penalties in a criminal court and can also result in civil proceedings.

Penalties for a Drunk Driving Accident

Except for DUI with property damage, a drunk driving accident can result in a felony charge. Accordingly, the penalties are harsher than a DUI without an accident. If you plead guilty or you are convicted, you could face the following:

  • DUI involving accident and serious bodily injury – This offense is a third-degree felony and can result in up to five years in prison. In addition to time behind bars, there is a maximum fine of $5,000 and license revocation.
  • DUI manslaughter – A second-degree felony, DUI manslaughter can be elevated to the first-degree misdemeanor if you fail to stop, give information or help the injured person at the scene of the accident. As a second degree felony you could face 15 years behind bars, a fine of $10,000, and license revocation. As a first degree felony, you could face up to life in prison if convicted.
  • DUI with property damage – A first-degree misdemeanor, DUI with property damage conviction can result in one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The fine is imposed per count and will increase if your accident results in the damage to more than one car.

A judge at sentencing will consider a number of factors before imposing a penalty. The gravity of the charges and your past criminal record will play a significant role in the process. Additionally, the option of enrollment in a DUI school and probation are available to the court. It is wise to be represented by a Sarasota drunk driving lawyer at your sentencing hearing.

A Sarasota Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help

Sarasota drunk driving accident lawyer Erika Valcarcel has a track record of providing high-quality legal representation for individuals charged with DUI-related charges. Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is equipped with a professional legal team that is ready to help you beat your charges. Charges originating from a DUI accident are serious. Do not delay in seeking legal representation. Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 and schedule a consultation.