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DUI with Property Damage in Broward County, FL

In most cases, a DUI with Property Damage investigation begins because of a crash with another attended vehicle. The charge can also occur if a person hits unattended property such as a parked car, light pole, mail box, tree or fence. If you are convicted of DUI with Property Damage, you can face a fine of at least $1,000 per count. For example, if you cause property damage to two different cars you can theoretically be charged with two separate counts. 

Property damage DUI cases are unique because in many of these cases witness was involved in the crash that was not witnessed by any law enforcement officer. These cases are also unique because the court can order restitution to cover any money damages caused to a third party. In many of these cases, if your insurance covers all of the restitution so that victim is satisfied, the prosecutor might agree to drop any allegation of property damage in exchange for the plea. If the case is not resolved with a plea, the criminal defense attorney and prosecutor can stipulate to a restitution amount to be paid on probation or the court can decide the restitution after a restitution hearing.

Although the statutory maximum penalty for a first DUI is 6 month, the penalty is twice as severe for a DUI case involving property damage. Florida Statute Section 316.193(3) provides that any person who

“by reason of such operation, causes or contributes to causing:

(1) Damage to the property or person of another commits a misdemeanor of the first degree…..”

Driving under the influence involving property damage is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

If you were arrested for DUI with property damage then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell. We represent clients charged with a DUI involving a breath, blood or urine test, or the refusal to submit to an approved chemical test at the request of a law enforcement officer. Call (954) 765-6585 today to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, FL. Let us put our experience to work for you today.

Defenses to DUI with Property Damage in Ft. Launderdale, FL

If you were charged with DUI resulting in property damage in Ft. Launderdale, FL, or the surrounding areas of Broward County, then call us to find out about important defenses that might exist in your case including:

  • Whether it can be proven that you were driving at the time of the crash by a person who actually saw you behind the wheel (the so-called wheel witness);
  • Whether the law enforcement officer violated your 4th amendment rights against under unreasonable search by the taking of your breath, blood or urine;
  • Whether any impairment reported by the officer was caused by alcohol or drug or was merely a result of physical injuries sustained in the crash; and 
  • Whether any statements should be suppressed as part of the accident report privilege; or
  • Whether any statements should be suppressed because the officer did not read you the Miranda warnings when required.

Elements under Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3)

Under Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3) for Driving Under the Influence with Property Damage, the elements of the offense require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • Drove a vehicle or was in actual physical control of a vehicle;
  • Caused or contributed to causing damage to the property of another person or injury to another person; and
  • At the time the defendant:
    • was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, chemical substance or controlled substance and their normal facilities are impaired,
    • had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or
    • had a breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Florida’s jury instructions for DUI provides that “normal faculties” generally include basic motor skills, walking, talking, driving, standing, breathing and thinking. These facilities essentially include the performance of basic daily physical acts or mental tasks.

The prosecutor is required to prove each of the preceding elements in order to convict an alleged offender with this DUI offense. If the prosecution is unable to prove even one element, you should be acquitted of the charge or only convicted of a lesser included offense.

Penalties and Punishments for Property Damage DUI in Broward County, FL

Property damage in the first degree is a misdemeanor in the first degree. This offense can result in a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine of no more than $1,000. Additionally, a person who has been charged with this offense may face a variety of other possible consequences, including:

  • 50 hours of community service;
  • court costs and fees;
  • a driver’s license suspension;
  • the possibility of placement of an interlock device on your vehicle;
  • 12 months probation with the possibility of early termination;
  • DUI school and any recommended follow up treatment.

If the person charged with drunk driving causes property damage had a BAC of .15 or higher or they had a passenger under 18 years old in the vehicle at the time of the offense, then the judge can increase the penalties to include a greater fine and longer jail sentences.

DUI with Property Damage Charges by the Fort Launderdale Police Department

For a DUI investigation involving only property damage or minor injury, the officer with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department will perform the DUI investigation or call for a deputy on the Broward County Sheriff’s Office DUI Task Force. If the case involves serious bodily injury within the City of Fort Launderdale, then the Broward Sheriff’s Office DUI Task Force is not normally used to assist in the investigation.

When the offense involves an accident, and the investigator intends to ask the defendant any questions about a criminal offense, the investigator must advise the defendant that he/she has completed their accident investigation and is commencing an investigation of the criminal offense of DUI. Any answers to questions taken during the accident report portion of the investigation are not normally admissible at trial. Statements made by the suspect after being advised that a criminal investigation has begun and after the Miranda warning is read, may be admissible at trial. 

If the suspect is transported to a hospital for any treatment, then the officer with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is trained to obtain two blood sample kits with the accompanying DUI Blood Test Packet and follow the suspect to the hospital.

Upon making contact with the suspect at the hospital, the officer is trained to attempt to obtain consent from the suspect to obtain two samples of the suspect’s blood for testing. The consent should be documented on the Department-approved consent form and audio recorded, when possible. The obtaining of consent to draw blood is NOT pursuant to the “Implied Consent” Statute and therefore “Implied Consent” should not be read to the suspect at this time.

If the suspect fails to give consent, then the “Implied Consent” (Form Z-511B) should be read to the suspect but the officer is trained NOT to advise the suspect that they are under arrest. If the suspect refuses the test, the officer should fill out Refusal Form HSMV 72054 to be filed with the not in custody case.

If after “Implied Consent” is read, the suspect agrees to submit to the drawing of their blood, then the procedures described in the DUI Blood Kit Collection Procedure Checklist should be followed. In all cases involving blood testing the subject should not be arrested, but instead a “Not in Custody” case is prepared once the test results are known.

The officer will obtain the name, address and telephone number, of any person who actually examines or treats the suspect including paramedics, triage nurses, physicians and anyone else who may draw blood for testing, for their report. If samples are collected, follow instructions on collecting the samples and securing the blood kits from form BA2:INS.2 that is included in each kit. The officer will fill out a Fort Lauderdale Toxicology Property Receipt (Form Z-624) and place the samples in the refrigerator in the evidence locker room. The samples will be logged in on the appropriate log. The evidence section will be responsible for arranging transportation of the samples to the Toxicologist Lab.

Once the results are received the officer will prepare all appropriate citations as well as a “Not In Custody” Probable Cause Affidavit, and place it in the DUI basket in the write-up room.

In many of those cases, the officer will wait for the test results before requesting an arrest warrant for DUI with property damage. More serious charges can be filed if any other person suffered serious bodily injury or death. Related charges can include DUI with serious bodily injury or DUI manslaughter. Other common charges in a property damage case including leaving the scene of the accident often called “hit and run.”

Attorney in Broward County for DUI with Property Damage

If you were arrested for DUI with property damage, then contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We represent clients on a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges including drunk driving and DUI with property damage throughout Broward County and the surrounding areas.

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell represent clients throughout the four courthouses in Broward County including the Central Judicial Complex in Ft. Lauderdale, the West Regional Courthouse in Plantation, the North Regional Courthouse in Deerfield Beach, and the South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood, FL.

We represent clients charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with property damage, a first degree misdemeanor, after an investigation by deputies with the Broward County Sheriff’s office, troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol, and law enforcement officers with other local police departments from Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie and Wilton Manors.

Call us today at (954) 765-6585 to discuss your case.

This article was last updated on Friday, January 15, 2016.

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