Every state has Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws. Some states refer to them as Operating Under the Influence (OUI), Operating While Impaired (OWI), or Driving While Impaired (DWI) – but the differences do not end there, and that is where things can get confusing.
Read on for a few of the most common myths about driving under the influence in Florida – and the facts that debunk them.
MYTH #1: DUI Only Involves Alcohol
While DUI does mean driving under the influence of alcohol, it also means driving under the influence of a chemical substance or controlled substance.
This means someone can be convicted of driving under the influence if they are caught operating a vehicle while under the influence of a recreational drug or even some types of prescription medication. In some cases, a person might be found guilty of DUI if they are driving under the influence of certain over-the-counter medications.
Simply put, a person should never drive if he or she has been drinking alcohol, and he or she should always talk with a doctor about the possible side effects of any medications before getting behind the wheel.
MYTH #2: DUI Offenders Only Get a Suspended License and Fines
A suspended license and hefty fines are both just the tip of the penalty iceberg for driving under the influence offenders.
Based on the offense, other penalties include:
- Vehicle impoundment.
- Community service.
- Alcohol and substance abuse courses.
- Criminal records, including felony records.
- Probation or parole.
- Jail time.
- Job loss, especially for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
- Punitive damages payout (see below).
Additionally, these penalties can vary further, depending on the offense. For example, a first-time DUI offender might not get as much jail time (or any) as a habitual DUI offender or someone who is convicted of vehicular manslaughter as a result of driving under the influence.
MYTH #3: DUI Victims Cannot Sue for Punitive Damages
Yes, they can!
Simply put, punitive damages are damages – usually monetary – awarded to the plaintiff with the purpose of reforming or deterring the defendant (the DUI offender) from again engaging in the behavior that led to the lawsuit (which, in the case of DUI, that behavior would be driving under the influence).
Generally, punitive damages go beyond just basic compensation. For example, if you sue someone for and are awarded punitive damages, those damages likely would cover more than just your medical bills or vehicle repair costs.
Albeit, suing for and obtaining punitive damages is rare in Florida, but DUI cases can be the exception. It is possible to sue for punitive damages if the person who is proven to have been driving under the influence causes a car accident – especially one that involves personal property and bodily injury.
If you are the victim of a driving under the influence car accident, contact a DUI attorney right away. We at the Law Offices of Fetterman & Associates, PA are prepared to help you obtain every drop of compensation you deserve. Call us today at 561-845-2510 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.