Accidents involving drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs are all too common on Florida’s roads. These accidents disproportionately tend to cause more injuries and deaths. Car accident victims are left picking up the pieces of their lives afterward, often fighting to obtain the compensation they need to recover financially.
If you have been injured or have a loved one who was killed by a driver in Florida who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you have the right to pursue a car accident injury claim. You can file your claim with your own PIP insurance provider, and you can also pursue a third-party liability claim if you have a qualifying “serious injury.”
Talk to a Florida car accident lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and best options for getting compensation. You can call 800-560-5059 or contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Florida car accident lawyer today.
To see just how bad Florida is when it comes to driving while drunk and on drugs and how it compares to the rest of the U.S., take a look at some of the sobering statistics below.
Florida DUI and Drugged Driving Statistics (And How We Compare to the Rest of the U.S.)
Florida’s DUI car accident statistics paint a grisly picture. There were 5,125 accidents in 2017 where alcohol use was confirmed to be a factor for at least one driver. These DUI accidents in Florida caused 3,035 injuries and 374 deaths.
Drug use, which is more difficult to confirm, was still confirmed in 668 Florida crashes in 2017. These drug-related accidents led to 589 injuries and 338 deaths. 335 crashes involved both drugs and alcohol, which led to 274 fatalities and 276 injuries.
Overall, these numbers compare pretty unfavorably to the U.S. as a whole when taking into account Florida’s population. Statistics compiled by the NHTSA for 2016 show that Florida’s DUI-related fatalities make up around 9% of the U.S. total, while the population in Florida in 2016 was only 6% of the U.S. total.
Our state is better than the national state average in all categories for fatal DUIs, but we still rank in third in every category despite being the fourth-most populous state in the country.
According to the CDC, DUI crashes nationally made up 28% of all U.S. traffic-related deaths. 17% of traffic-related deaths affecting children 0 to 14 years old involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver.
Drugs are also a major factor in national crash statistics. The CDC says that illegal and legal drugs were involved in 16% of all crashes.
One NHTSA study shows that people who used marijuana were nearly 25% more likely to be involved in a crash — although the study did not attempt to adjust for factors like age and frequency of use. Marijuana was detected in the oral fluids of 7.6% of drivers involved in a crash and suspected of drug use, making it the most-likely drug drivers are under the influence of.
16% of all tested drivers overall were detected to have one or more substances in their system. Drivers involved in crashes were also more likely to be under the influence of illegal drugs rather than legally prescribed ones.
Sedative drugs had an even higher impact than marijuana, making drivers who used them 30% more likely to get in a crash.
One concerning trend is that while DUI crashes, deaths, and injuries have all decreased in Florida from 2015 to 2017, the same categories are rising for crashes involving drug use.
Laws for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol in Florida
Unsurprisingly, driving under the influence of anything is illegal in the state of Florida.
The most relevant law is found under Title 13, the Motor Vehicles section of the Florida Statutes, §316.193. It states that being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of any “alcoholic beverages,” controlled substance, or substance with a regulated use “when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired” is guilty of a crime. Drivers who have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher in their blood or breath are also guilty.
This language means that you don’t have to be above the 0.08 limit to be arrested and convicted, so long as you are impaired according to the judgment of the arresting police officer. You can also have a high tolerance and no visible impairment on the roadside sobriety test but still be guilty if you have a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
Florida’s DUI laws also add on penalties for drivers who cause serious injury or death as a result of an accident they are involved in.
Noticeably, the law does describe tolerance limits for illegal, controlled, or illegally used drugs. Florida prosecutors generally accept that someone was under the influence of a drug if it can be detected through an analysis of their mouth fluids, urine, or blood.
Marijuana is legal for medical use in Florida, but the laws and typical criminal justice procedure all-but forbid somebody who has a detectable amount of THC in their system to drive. This can make using medical marijuana difficult, as THC can remain in the bloodstream and breath for quite a while, especially for long-term users.
Filing a Claim After You Are Hurt By a Drunk Driver or Someone Under the Influence of Drugs in Florida
Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law requires anyone who was injured in an accident to file under their PIP insurance policy. This policy pays for 80% of medical bills up to $10,000 as well as a portion of lost wages.
Anyone hurt in an accident and who has a “serious injury” will be able to file a separate injury claim under the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) policy. These policies often have much higher coverage limits beyond $10,000, pay for the remaining portion of medical costs, and can include compensation for pain and suffering.
In Florida, a qualifying serious injury can include a broken bone, an accident that causes the permanent loss of an organ or appendage, or injuries that significantly disable the victim for 90 days. There may be other circumstances that could potentially qualify, especially in the context of an accident caused by a driver under the influence.
Fight for your ability to claim the full amount of damages you have been dealt after your accident with a drunk driver or driver under the influence of drugs. Call 800-560-5059 or contact us online today to schedule your free, no-obligation case review with our experienced Florida car accident