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Florida Driving Under the Influence (DUI) resulting in Serious Bodily Injury is defined as driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while was under the influence of alcohol or a chemical/controlled substance to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired and causing Serious Bodily Injury to a person as a result.
DUI in Florida may also be shown with proof that you had a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle.
The Florida definition of “serious bodily injury” is injury to another person, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Penalties for a DUI Serious Bodily Injury Charge

  1. Five years in state prison;
  2. Five years of supervised probation;
  3. A $5,000 fine
Additionally, you will face other penalties including:
  1. Community service
  2. Driver's license suspension
  3. Ordered to attend and complete a DUI Counter Attack Class
  4. Ordered to attend and complete a Victim Awareness Class
  5. Ordered to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and abide by any recommended treatment
  6. Vehicle impoundment
Additionall, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will seek to suspend your driver's license and you can count on your insurance premiums increasing substantially.

Defenses to a DUI Serious Bodily Injury Charge

In addition to factual defenses that would be raised at trial to show reasonable doubt as to the crime alleged, some common defenses to a DUI Serious Bodily Injury charge in Florida include:

Were you pulled over for a legal reason? Did the Police violate your constitutional rights?
Law enforcement is not allowed to simply harass or otherwise disturb you if you are doing nothing wrong. In order for police to pull your vehicle over, they must have sufficient proof that you committed some traffic infraction, or be investigating a crash or checking on the well-being of a driver.

Furthermore, simply because you commit a traffic infraction does not give the officer the right to request you to submit to Field Sobriety Exercises or conclude that you were driving under the influence.
Remember, you should never assume that the officer went through the proper channels to arrest you.
If the officer violated your constitutional rights, it may be grounds to suppress all evidence in your case which may cause your charge to be dismissed by the Judge.

You were not in "actual physical control" of the vehicle as defined under Florida law
Florida law defines “actual physical control” as being physically in or on the vehicle with the capability to operate the vehicle. You do not have to be actually operating the vehicle at the time in order to be in actual physical control of it.
If you were not driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, then you will have an affirmative defense to the Florida DUI Serious Bodily Injury charge.

Your "normal faculties" were not impaired as defined under Florida law
It is not illegal to consume alcohol and subsequently drive a car. Plenty of people consume alcohol while at a restaurant or happy hour. Just because you consume alcohol does not mean you were driving under the influence in Florida.
Even if the officer suspects that you are driving under the influence and requests that you submit to Field Sobriety Exercises, the State may still be unable to prove that you were driving under the influence to the extent your normal faculties were impaired.
The Florida definition of “normal faculties” is the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.
In Florida, police use Field Sobriety Exercises to “test” your normal faculties but in reality, these “exercises” are a poor indicator of whether someone is actually under the influence.
You may have a defense if it cannot be shown that you were driving under the influence to the extent your normal faculties were impaired.

The injury did not amount to “serious bodily injury” as defined under Florida law
Remember, the Florida definition of “serious bodily injury” is very specific and does not encompass every type of injury. Simply because someone was injured does not necessarily mean that the injury will rise to the level of “serious bodily injury” as defined under Florida law. However, this will not be a complete defense to the DUI charge as a whole but will only change the “serious bodily injury” portion of it.

This is important because it could mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor!

Was the breath or blood test administered properly?
Florida law is very specific on when, who, and how a blood, urine, or breath test can be administered. You should not assume that it was done correctly as many times, it is not. Furthermore, the results of the test may be challenged as being unreliable and untrustworthy.
If the proper channels were not followed in administering such a chemical test, they should not be admitted into evidence against you. This may prove the difference between whether or not the State can even prove their case.

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Kaigle if you’ve been charged with DUI - Serious Bodily Injury in Florida!
(407) 545-6416