Drinking and Driving Accidents in South Florida
According to the Florida Mothers against Drunk Driving webpage, in the past year, drunk driving fatalities resulting from a driver’s BAC of .08 or higher, was 676. This number represents 28.1% of all total traffic deaths in the state. There were 40,677 DUI arrests in the Sunshine State in 2014, with 26,291 convictions for the offense. In 2012, Florida enacted a law requiring interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers who had a BAC of .15 or greater, and now allows judges to order interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .08-.14 in lieu of a 10-day vehicle impoundment. This approach has not had the desired effect: in 2014, more than 20,000 DUI offenders were re-arrested for driving on a suspended license, and in 2012, more than 11,000 DUI arrests in the state were for fifth-time offenders.
Few would argue that drinking and driving vastly increases the chances of a crash due to slower response times, lower inhibitions and possible sleepiness. When response times of drivers slow, they are unable to execute even the most basic defensive maneuvers in order to avoid a crash. Inebriated drivers also have little regard for the rules of the road and have been known to pass out while driving, endangering other drivers. Among the many South Florida DUI accidents which happen on a weekly basis, some of the more notable include:
- Last June, a former Miami Beach police officer ran over two people. The officer, Derick Kuilan, was reportedly joyriding on his police ATV. While acquitted of DUI charges (despite a blood test which showed he had a blood alcohol level which was over the legal limit five hours following the crash), Kuilan was convicted of driving recklessly. The DUI acquittal resulted in Kuilan facing only a five-year sentence rather than a ten-year sentence. Kuilan was on duty the night of the accident, yet was partying at the Clevelander in full uniform. He offered to take Adalee Jones on his ATV up and down the beach, and while driving without headlights, he ran over Kitzie Nicanor and Luis Almonte. Nicanor had her spleen removed and suffered brain injuries as a result of the accident.
- On February 13, 2015, a Boynton Beach woman was arrested after causing a crash on the Boca Raton Turnpike. The crash occurred just south of Glades Road when Nina Rodriguez drove her Chevy Malibu off the turnpike, slamming into the back of a pickup stopped on the shoulder. The three people inside the pickup truck were able to escape just before it burst into flames. Rodriguez had a BAC of .116–well above the legal limit of .08.
- While not a recent accident, former South Beach resident Sean Casey, convicted of running over an elderly woman in a 2001 drunk driving collision, is now nearing the end of his prison sentence and seeking to have all records related to the crash sealed. Casey, driving a BMW, hit Mary Montgomery, a 71-year old resident of Miami Beach, as she crossed the street with a bag of groceries. Casey, then 27 years old, was arrested at his apartment. Prior to his trial, Casey fled to Chile where he spent two years before being extradited back to Miami. In October 2006, Casey plead guilty to DUI manslaughter, receiving a sentence of twelve years in prison. Casey built a career on promoting the freedom of journalists in Latin America. Now, however, he is asking a Florida judge to seal his DUI manslaughter court records so he may travel freely abroad. Casey’s lawyer contends he deserves a second chance and “redemption,” while the prosecutor finds a disparity between Casey’s career as a journalist and a request to hide public information.
Those in the North Beach area who have suffered injury from an impaired driver could benefit from speaking to a knowledgeable North Beach Miami DUI accident attorney. DUI accident cases can be difficult due to the criminal investigation that is also likely taking place. Oftentimes, a DUI accident victim’s needs are placed secondary to the criminal process. When this occurs, you need a lawyer on your side to fight for your rights to compensation.