Drunk Driving Accidents

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver, the Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm are here to protect your rights.

Of course, we know nothing can ever replace the life of someone close, nor will compensation necessarily restore your health. However, these cases are as much about holding negligent drivers accountable as for recovering damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Funeral Expenses
  • Wrongful Death

These are known as compensatory damages, and they are intended to help indemnify victims for certain losses.

In DUI cases, in addition to recovery of compensatory damages, victims may also have grounds to pursue punitive damages, which are intended to punish defendant and prevent similar acts in the future. When punitive damages are awarded, they are often for amounts far in excess of what one could recover through compensatory damages.

Additionally, victims may in some cases pursue damages against the owner of the vehicle, the establishment that served the driver alcohol (if that driver was underage or known to be a habitual abuser of alcohol) and possibly the driver’s employer.

Our legal team is experienced in knowing which avenues of recovery are available, how to properly identify all possible defendants and formulating an effective strategy to ensure our clients receive fair compensation.

The Scourge of Drunk Driving in Florida

Drunk driving is referred to by the advocates at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as the most commonly-committed “violent crime” in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2013, there were nearly 10,100 deaths in crashes where a driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. That accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths for that year, and that percentage has remained largely unchanged for a number of years.

In examining the problem at a glance:

  • A person dies every 52 minutes in the U.S. as a result of an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • U.S. taxpayers lose nearly $50 billion annually in economic costs for drunk driving crashes. This includes losses for property damage, medical costs, administration of insurance, legal and court expenses, workplace losses, traffic congestion, emergency medical services and lost productivity.
  • Of those 10,100 deadly DUI accidents in 2013, a stunning 70 percent occurred with one driver having a BAC of at least 0.15 or higher.
  • Drivers 21 to 24 had the highest percentage of impairment rates in fatal crashes, followed by those ages 25 to 34.

The good news is alcohol-related deaths have fallen by about 23 percent in the last decade.

In Florida, approximately 30 percent of traffic fatalities in 2013 were attributed to at least one driver who had been drinking. Twenty-eight percent of those had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, while 20 percent had a BAC of 0.15 or higher.

Florida DUI Laws

In recent years, Florida lawmakers have taken a number of steps to toughen laws against impaired drivers.

For example, in 2014, the state expanded its interlock ignition law to allow judges to order the devices for first-time offenders whose BAC was between 0.08 and 0.14 in lieu of a 10-day impoundment of his or her vehicle.

MADD argues ignition interlock devices, which are individual breath machines that prevent a vehicle from starting if the operator’s BAC exceeds a certain threshold, should be mandatory for all DUI offenders. As of right now, judges can order the installation of devices for first-time offenders, but it isn’t mandatory until a second or subsequent offense.

There were nearly 41,000 DUI arrests in Florida in 2014, and of those, 113,000 were third-time offenders.

F.S. 316.193 spells out the state’s drunk driving laws and the criminal penalties for violating them. In cases where there is a serious injury or death resulting from an accident, a criminal judge may order a defendant to pay restitution. However, this is not the primary goal of the criminal justice system, and it may be nowhere near what is necessary for victims to recover their losses. That’s why timely filing a civil lawsuit is so important.

Proving Negligence in DUI Accident Cases

All drivers owe others on the road a basic duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and in a reasonable manner.

In order to prove another driver was negligent, your injury lawyer will need to show:

  • A duty of care existed. This is fairly simple, as operation of a vehicle automatically imposes a duty of care to others on the road.
  • There was a breach of duty. If one is driving under the influence, he or she is violating at least one traffic law.
  • You sustained injury.
  • Causation. The injury you suffered was caused by defendant driver’s breach of duty.

Contact Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer Richard Ansara at The Ansara Law Firm, by calling (954) 761-4011 for a free consultation.