Florida DUI with Property Damage
Being charged with a DUI is a very serious matter in the state of Florida. If your DUI also resulted in an accident that caused property, your charge could be elevated to DUI with property damage—a charge that carries with it significantly greater penalties than a typical misdemeanor DUI.
DUI with Property Damage Penalties
If you are convicted of a DUI with property damage, or if you plead guilty to this charge, you may be sentenced to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. It is likely that your insurance company will increase your premiums substantially and may even discontinue your coverage if you have had multiple driving infractions. The DUI will also remain on your permanent record, which is accessible to future employers and even colleges and universities. As a result, you may have a hard time finding or keeping employment or even getting into school in the future.
Defending a DUI with Property Damage
In order to be convicted of a DUI with property damage, the State must prove that several circumstances existed at the time of the incident. First, the State must prove that you were impaired. If the arresting officer cited the results of your field sobriety test as evidence that you were impaired, your attorney has ways to combat this claim. He or she can argue that your poor performance on these subjective tests was a result of the trauma of the accident—or even the unfair nature of the tests themselves—to help establish reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s claims.
The second piece of the DUI with property damage puzzle requires the State to prove that you were solely responsible for the property damage caused during the accident. Your defense attorney can defend you against this charge by enlisting the help of an accident reconstruction specialist. This specialist will investigate the scene and examine all of the evidence to piece together the accident in its entirety. Doing so may uncover that you were not responsible for the accident, which would result in the property damage portion of your DUI charge being dropped.
Finally, the State must prove that you were operating the vehicle that caused the accident. Your attorney will evaluate the evidence against you with an understanding that the prosecution needs an eyewitness and strong evidence to win on this point. If there are any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, your attorney will move to negotiate a plea bargain or to have your case dismissed.