Definition: DUI w/ Serious Bodily Injury
The crime of DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury is defined in Section 316.193(3), Florida Statues. The offense consists of three factual elements, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle;
- While driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle, defendant was under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired, or had a breath/blood alcohol level of .08 or higher; and
- As a result of operating the vehicle, defendant caused or contributed to causing serious bodily injury.
‘Causing’ or ‘Contributing’ to Injury
To prove the crime of DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury in Florida, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused or contributed to causing a serious bodily injury. See State v. Naumowicz, 535 So. 2d 702, 704 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (causation a required element in DUI manslaughter prosecution).
To be deemed a ’cause’ for purposes of the offense, the defendant need not be the sole cause of the crash. Magaw v. State, 537 So. 2d 564, 567 (Fla. 1989). Proof of simple negligence will suffice for a conviction. Parker v. State, 590 So. 2d 1027, 1028 (Fla. 1st Dist. 1991).
Moreover, the State of Florida is not required to prove that the operator’s drinking caused the accident. The Florida Supreme Court has stated that any deviation or lack of care is sufficient to sustain a conviction. Magaw, 537 So. 2d at 567.
Meaning of ‘Serious Bodily Injury’
Under Section 316.1933(1)(b), Florida Statutes, the term “serious bodily injury” means an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that:
- Creates a substantial risk of death;
- Creates a substantial risk of serious personal disfigurement; or
- Creates a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Penalties for the Offense
In Florida, DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury is classified as a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. A conviction will likely also result in a restitution award to compensate the victim for his or her losses.
A conviction for the offense also carries the potential for a minimum mandatory prison sentence. Under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury is a Level 7 offense, which is given a primary offense point value of 56. Up to 40 additional points may be added to the sentencing score if the prosecution succeeds in having the alleged victim’s injuries classified as “severe.”
Thus, in Florida, a total of 96 sentencing points may be assessed for a DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, resulting in a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 51 months (4 years and three months).
Contact an Attorney
Driving Under the Influence Causing Serious Bodily Injury is one of the most harshly prosecuted DUI offenses in Florida, and no person should proceed without representation by a qualified criminal attorney.
If you have been arrested in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, or Nassau County, Florida, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact Hussein & Webber, PL today for a free consultation.