Because Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, drivers claim from their own insurers for any loss and damage they suffer. As a generalization, there’s no need to claim from any other driver involved. Payment is made to you no matter which driver is at fault. This reduces the amount of help it’s necessary to get for the settlement of civil claims.
Of course, specialist car insurance attorneys are important if you have a dispute with your insurer about how much the claim is worth or there are unreasonable delays in dealing with the claim. In such cases, having the muscle to sue the insurer usually encourages the settlement of the claim. After all, insurers make major saving in their own legal costs by avoiding all litigation under the no-fault scheme.
The Florida Bar has a “find an attorney” element on its website at http://www.floridabar.org
Because car insurance rates can be dramatically affected if you pick up a ticket or conviction for one of the more serious moving violations, it can make economic sense to pay an attorney to represent you in any criminal proceedings. If you have the ticket canceled or avoid conviction, you will continue to be considered a safe driver by your insurer and the rates will not take off like a rocket.
Remember you have a legal right to advice should you be arrested. Particularly if you are charged with DUI/DWI, early advice is essential. Florida has some of the toughest laws on alcohol and drug-related driving offenses. More importantly, prosecutors are reluctant to plead down the offenses unless a very good argument can be made. Only a specialist can help you in this. Otherwise, you face suspension of your driving privileges and being allocated to the high-risk pool when you can drive again.
DUI/DWI in Florida
There’s clear evidence that driving after drinking alcohol or consuming drugs significantly increases the risk of an accident. This is why the state insists new drivers of all ages go through a Drug, Alcohol, Traffic Awareness (DATA) course. Even so, about 45% of all road deaths are alcohol or drug-related. Hence, any driver who causes personal injuries to another road user will automatically be charged with a First Degree Misdemeanor.
The federal standard for blood alcohol concentration applies in Florida at 0,08%. The state also has reduced tolerance for drivers under the age of 21 who will be prosecuted if their BAC is 0.02%.
There are both administrative and criminal sanctions if you are caught. To avoid the worst possibilities, it’s always better to get the advice of an experienced criminal attorney. If this is a first offense in the range 0.08% to 0.14%, there’s a fine in the range of $500/$1,000, and you may go to jail for up to six months. Points will be added to your driver’s license which is suspended for between six and twelve months. However, the suspension may be appealed if you live in an area where public transport is limited and you will suffer undue hardship. If you are above 0.15%, the fine is higher and you will have to go through mandatory community service for 50 hours or pay an increased fine. Your vehicle may also be impounded for between 10 and 30 days unless your family has no other means of transport.
If there’s a second offense within five or a third offense within ten years, the fines and periods of imprisonment increase and minimum jail time applies. The third and subsequent offenses are treated as felonies so your driver’s license will be revoked for ten years.
If you are convicted, your license will be suspended for six months, or one year if this is a second offense. Refusing to submit to the test result in an automatic suspension of your license for twelve months. The other penalties for older drivers may also be applied depending on the facts of each case.
If your BAC is above 0.04% or you refuse a blood test, you will be barred from holding a commercial driver’s license for one year. If you pick up a second conviction, you will not be allowed to hold a commercial driver’s license for the rest of your life.