Pensacola Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
Representing Victims & Their Families
In the United States, someone dies from a drunk driving-related accident every 45 minutes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 11,000 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2020, marking a 14% increase in impaired driving fatalities from the previous year.
Unfortunately, Florida continuously ranks among the top three worst states for drunk driving alongside California and Texas. According to auto insurance company Bankrate, these three states accounted for almost 30% of all alcohol-related deaths in the nation between 2008 and 2019.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in Florida, one that comes with harsh criminal and administrative penalties. Drunk drivers can also be held accountable for the injuries and damages they cause in civil lawsuits. By filing a drunk driving accident claim, you can seek fair compensation and the justice you deserve.
Florida DUI Laws
In Florida, it is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To be considered “under the influence,” an individual must be “deprived of full possession of normal faculties,” which is usually—but not always—measured by blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Florida DUI laws prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with the following BAC levels:
- 0.08%: No one, regardless of age or driver’s license class, may operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above in Florida
- 0.04%: The legal limit is 0.04% for commercial driver’s license holders who are operating commercial vehicles in Florida
- 0.02%: Minors, or those under the legal drinking age of 21, may not operate a motor vehicle in Florida with a BAC of 0.02% or above
People who violate the state’s DUI laws face various criminal and administrative penalties, including jail or prison time, steep fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, and mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs). While these penalties can help deter motorists from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, they do little to compensate victims of drunk driving accidents.
The Effects of Drunk Driving
Consuming alcohol impairs various functions needed to safely operate a motor vehicle, such as coordination, alertness, judgment, and reaction time. As a result, drunk drivers are significantly more likely to cause car crashes than motorists who are not impaired. Additionally, drunk driving accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries and deaths, as drunk drivers typically fail to take necessary actions to avoid a collision, such as braking.
For victims, the effects are devastating. Many suffer life-changing injuries, leading to extreme physical, psychological, and financial hardships.
Some of the most common injuries arising from impaired driving-related crashes include:
- Broken bones/fractures
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Damage to internal organs
- Traumatic amputation
Tragically, many drunk driving accident victims do not survive. Families who are left behind may struggle to cope with the immense emotional and economic consequences of the loss.
At the Law Office of J.J. Talbott, our Pensacola drunk driving accident lawyers understand just how devastating these crashes are, both for victims and their families. We are here to help you seek justice. If you were injured or your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you likely have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. While no amount of financial compensation can undo the tragic events that have happened, a fair settlement or verdict can allow you to secure the financial resources needed to manage unexpected expenses so that you can begin to heal.
How Is a Drunk Driving Accident Claim Different from a DUI Case?
A drunk driving accident claim is a civil action, whereas a DUI case is a criminal one. Civil actions go through civil court, as opposed to criminal court, and allow the people who bring these claims (known as “plaintiffs”) to seek financial restitution for certain losses, or “damages,” they have sustained.
Common damages in drunk driving accident claims include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical care
- Medical equipment/devices
- Hospital fees
- Ambulance/emergency transportation costs
- Lost income and/or wages
- Lost employment benefits
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished enjoyment/quality of life
- Loss of earning ability
- Loss of future income
- In-home care and assistance
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses associated with the accident
Criminal DUI cases and civil drunk driving accident claims can proceed simultaneously. Additionally, the outcome of one case does not necessarily affect the outcome of the other, though a criminal DUI conviction can serve as strong evidence in a civil lawsuit.