Articles Posted in DUI Car Accidents


The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has reported that a 12-year-old boy from Plant City died in a car crash in Mulberry just after midnight on Sunday. 

There were three others injured in the vehicle crash, including a 14-year-old boy. 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office believes that Toyota Corolla driven by a 30-year-old man collided with a Nissan pickup truck driven by a 42-year-old man. 

Reports from the crash indicate that the driver of the truck and the 12-year-old child were ejected from the vehicle, and that the Corolla caught fire. 

Officials reported that bystanders successfully pulled the 14-year-old boy from the truck, who suffered a broken collar bone and was taken to Lakeland Regional Health for his injury. 

After Polk County deputies and fire rescue located the 12-year-old child in the middle of the highway unresponsive, he was airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa. He later died from his injuries. 

The driver of the pickup truck is listed in critical but stable condition and being treated at Lakeland Regional Health for a broken neck and leg. 

The driver of the Corolla suffered a broken leg. Upon his release he was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter, several counts of DUI with serious injuries, and driving without a valid driver’s license. 

Deputies did mention that no one in the truck was wearing a seatbelt. The driver of the Corolla was wearing a seatbelt, according to reports. 

police-850054_1920-300x212The PCSO Traffic Homicide Unit shutdown the roadway for five hours while they investigated the scene. 

The crash still remains under investigation. 

Losing a spouse, partner, child, or other relative or family member in a car crash due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver is a horrific experience to have to endure. If you have lost a loved one in a DUI crash in the Tampa Bay area, a wrongful death lawsuit is a way to achieve justice from the responsible driver of the accident as well as recover financial compensation to help you move forward from this tragic loss. 

Drunk Driving Sobering Statistics in the U.S. 

Drunk driving is entirely preventable, but still one of the top causes of car accidents throughout the United States. The statistics below show just how serious of a problem DUI-related collisions are. 

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 30 people are killed every day from DUI car accidents in the United States, which adds up to one death every 50 minutes. 
  • In 2018, drunk driving fatalities were responsible for 29% of all car crash fatalities, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
  • According to the NHTSA, 10,511 people died in drunk driving crashes involving a driver who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit in all 50 states of 0.08%. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drivers under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs make up about 16% of all car crashes. 
  • The CDC also reported that in 2016 there were 1,233 traffic deaths among children 0-14 years in age. Of those, 214 or 17% involved a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim? 

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim filed by surviving family members of a deceased person that seeks to hold the at-fault party responsible for their loved ones death. The grounds of a wrongful death claim can exist when a person dies because of another person’s negligent actions. When carried out successfully, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide surviving family members with financial compensation known as damages. 

Generally speaking, fatalities that are caused by the reckless or careless actions of another person can warrant a wrongful death claim. The essential elements that comprise a wrongful death claim in the state of Florida include:  

  1. Duty of care: For a DUI wrongful death claim this means that the drunk driver has a responsibility to follow all traffic laws, which means not operating their vehicle while intoxicated. 
  2. Breach duty of care: The duty of care must first be proven to exist and then it must be demonstrated how that duty was breached. For a DUI matter, the driver getting behind the wheel of a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol will demonstrate that they breached their duty of care. 
  3. Causation: It must be demonstrated that the breach of duty of care is what resulted in the wrongful death. In a DUI-related death, it would need to be shown that a drunk driver’s actions are what lead to the death of another person. 

While no amount of money can undo what happened or bring a loved one back, damages can help surviving family members achieve some sense of justice. The following types of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death claim:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any medical bills related to the accident 
  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of benefits 
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Punitive damages may be available in certain cases, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for their intentional or severely negligent actions. 

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summer-1412165_1280-248x300The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding people across the United States to drive sober as their high visibility enforcement has already begun and will continue through Labor Day. 

There will be an increase in the amount of law enforcement patrolling the roads through September 7. 

The latest data from the NHTSA shows that around Labor Day is one of the deadliest times to be on the road. There were 10,511 traffic fatalities in 2018 that involved a motorist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. This accounted for 29% of all motor vehicle accident deaths for 2018. Another 7,051 fatal accidents involved drivers who had a BAC of .15 or more, which is nearly twice the legal limit in the state of Florida and most other states. 

Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to remind drivers the importance of staying sober behind the wheel. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even prescription or over the counter drugs, regardless of whether they are legal or illegal. Even in states where marijuana is legal, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of this drug. If a prescription drug or even an over the counter medication impairs a person’s faculties, then it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under their influence. 

A person is considered intoxicated when their BAC is .08 or higher in the state of Florida. The truth is that DUI-related accidents and fatalities occur quite regularly on our roads and highways. According to the NHTSA, there were 3,133 people killed in car accidents in the state of Florida in 2018. Of those, 814 were the result of a drunk or impaired driver. In 2017, Florida had 3,116 motor vehicle fatalities with 841 attributed to intoxicated motorists. 

Liability in DUI Car Accidents 

Victims of DUI collisions as well as family members who have lost a loved one in a DUI crash can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover financial compensation for their losses. It must be demonstrated that the driver acted negligently, and a BAC over the legal limit of .08 is evidence of negligence, which can find them liable for any damages they caused. 

In certain DUI-related cases, another party can be found at-fault or partially responsible for the collision: 

  • An adult who provides a person under the age of 21 with alcohol could be held responsible for damages caused by the driver. 
  • An employer could also be deemed at-fault if their employee has too much to drink at a work function and then gets behind the wheel of a car. 
  • If an intoxicated driver does not have car insurance, the victim of a crash may be able to seek damages through their own insurance policy for uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. 
  • The state of Florida also has what is called dram shop liability laws which applies to establishments, bartenders, and even social hosts that sold or provided alcohol to a person who then became too impaired and caused a DUI-related crash. 

Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton Can Help 

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a driver who was operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need to get legal help from a personal injury or wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how painful these accidents can be, which is why we will do everything we can to fully investigate the accident and provide you with the honest feedback you need to understand your legal rights for recovering financial compensation. We will be there with you through every step of the recovery process and fight for what is fair.  

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Planning to head out on New Year’s Eve and ring in the New Year? There are several groups that offer safe rides to inebriated drivers including the Auto Club Group and Bud Light, which hosts the Tow to Go service to discourage an intoxicated driver from getting behind the wheel.

Other free safe transportation options are sponsored by Uber and Lyft.

Uber is offering free rides up to $10 with the code “SAFERIDETPA.”The code is good from 9 p.m. Tuesday until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

HARTline will offer rides on the TECO Line Streetcar in downtown Tampa for free on New Year’s Eve from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., during the annual Light Up Tampa event. The free In-Towner will also be operating throughout Downtown Tampa until 1 a.m.

HART also will offer free rides beginning at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve on all fixed-route bus services.

The hours between 6 p.m. Dec 31 and 6 a.m. Jan. 1 are the most dangerous time of the year for drivers.

Compared to the average weekend night, the 12-hour window on New Year’s Eve and Day has about 71 percent more crashes where alcohol or drugs are listed as a contributing factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 5,125 alcohol- or drug-related crashes in Florida in 2017. Of those, 350 fatalities were fatalities.

St. Petersburg ranked fourth in the state with 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. Tampa came in at No. 7 with 3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents.

Ranking in the top 10 for medium-sized Florida cities were Plant City (4), Temple Terrace (5) and Pinellas Park (8). And in the top 10 for small cities was Gulfport (5).

According to the Tampa Alcohol Coalition, Tampa Bay is making headway in reducing drunk-driving crashes with the help of tougher enforcement measures, new statutes, sober rides programs and public service campaigns.

The TAC said safe ride programs are helping to keep socially responsible drinkers off the roads and may be responsible for a decrease in drunk driving accidents in major metropolitan areas like Miami-Dade, which dropped 65 percent in 2017.

Additionally, Millenials in Florida, concerned about their environmental footprint, are driving less and using public transportation more.

Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking are much more likely to cause accidents than sober drivers. Drunk drivers have delayed reaction times and their judgement is impaired, which is why drunk driving accidents are often more serious and cause more severe injuries than other car accidents.

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay Injury Attorneys have no sympathy for people who choose to drink and drive. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, we will do whatever we can to hold that person accountable and fight to get you financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Many people can actually be responsible for a drunk driving accident, including:

  • The drunk driver: drunk drivers are responsible for their own behavior, and that includes choosing to drive a car after consuming any amount of alcohol.  
  • Party hosts: people who host parties where alcohol is served can be held liable in the event a guest leaves their party after being served alcohol and causes a drunk driving accident. This is especially true if the host was known to provide alcohol to the guest after it was clear they were inebriated.
  • Bar/Restaurant, staff & owners: bar and restaurant owners, bartenders, and other employees can also be held responsible for drunk driving accidents. It is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.

If you or a loved one was harmed in a drunk driving accident, once you get in touch with us we can investigate the accident and any contributing factors, including any parties or bars where the negligent drunk driver may have consumed alcohol prior to causing the accident. We will then fight to get you awarded damages for your accident-related expenses.

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A man has been arrested on DUI charges after an overnight Interstate 4 crash involving a motorcycle.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 23-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a crash on I-4 just east of State Road 574.

Troopers said the crash happened at 1:45 a.m. when the motorcycle and a 2018 Dodge Ram truck were both traveling eastbound on I-4.

Authorities said the motorcyclist tried to overtake the truck but collided with the back of the truck. The motorcyclist was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died.  

Following the crash, the truck left the scene and turned northbound on Interstate 75 then turned back southbound on I-75 until stopped by troopers near milepost 268.

The 39-year-old was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of the crash, driving with a suspended license, and DUI.

Drunk drivers have delayed reaction times and impaired judgement, which makes them a huge risk to motorcyclists sharing the roadway. Our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to keeping the roads and highways in the Tampa Bay area safe for motorcyclists. We know that injured riders often suffer significant physical, emotional and financial burdens, and we can help to lift these stresses by obtaining the financial compensation you deserve.

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A 17-year-old girl is recovering at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Monday after a Largo crash involving a wrong-way driver left her and three of her friends all with serious injuries.

The girl was a passenger in the front seat when the cars collided head-on.

Her three friends were also hurt and hospitalized.

Troopers said the other driver in the crash, a 26-year-old woman, was driving the wrong way on 66th Street North. They believe alcohol was a factor.

The woman died in the wreck.

Wrong-way driving collisions usually end in fatality, as this case shows. Most wrong-way driving crashes occur as a result of motorists operating their cars under the influence of alcohol or because they are confused and unaware that they’ve turned onto an exit or one-way street.

Wrong-way driving accidents take the lives of numerous people in Tampa Bay every year, and leave many more seriously injured. The recent rise of wrong-way crashes is alarming, as all of these crashes should be preventable.

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Tampa Bay residents are gearing up for Cinco de Mayo fiestas today! This is the perfect time to enjoy Mexican-inspired food, drinks and fun with friends and family.

Unfortunately, drunk driving rates increase over the holidays. Every day in the United States, an average of 27 people lose their lives to drunk drivers.

While you cannot control the actions of other motorists, you can reduce the likelihood of getting in a crash with a drunk driver.


Five students were hit by a 48-year-old former law enforcement officer Thursday afternoon. Officials believe the man was drunk at the time of the accident.

A 13-year-old boy died from his injuries received in the crash Friday morning.

The students were hit by the man after they had gotten off the bus, officials said.

The crash occurred around 5 p.m. on Allegheny road near Athabasca in Poinciana.

Two of the children suffered serious, life-threatening injuries, including spinal injuries, facial fractures, and head trauma.  

Officials said the man fled the scene after hitting the kids and ended up hitting a stopped car on Poinciana Parkway.

The man was charged with two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury, two counts leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury, two counts leaving the scene of a crash with bodily injury, three counts DUI with injury and property damage and reckless driving.

The man apparently blew a .14 on a breath test, which is over the legal limit, seven hours after the crash.

If someone you love has been injured due to a drunk driving accident, you have rights and can receive compensation. Florida does not take drunk driving lightly and there are significant consequences for anyone who drives under the influence. You may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, property damage and even punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the driver who chose to get behind the wheel of a car drunk.

It vital that you get legal help to begin investigating your accident as soon as possible. The preservation of certain evidence can be key in making a claim for personal injury or wrongful death.

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According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, a pedestrian was struck and killed Tuesday around 2:30 p.m. on 9th Ave. N.

The driver who hit him was charged with DUI manslaughter.

Officials believe the pedestrian, a 72-year-old school crossing guard, was setting up his school zone cones when he was hit by a vehicle.

A witness said a silver Toyota Scion was driving erratically and hit a pickup truck before hitting the man.

The driver also hit a school zone sign and a small tree and kept going several blocks, police said.

The man was pronounced dead at the hospital. He had been a crossing guard for three years. No one else was injured in the accident.

The driver of the Toyota, a 21-year-old man, was charged with DUI manslaughter.

DUI accidents are 100% preventable. Driving while intoxicated hinders a driver’s ability to safely execute the many tasks that can arise on the road. Regardless, many motorists still choose to carelessly get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

A whopping 39% of traffic deaths each year are alcohol related. On that same notes, more than half a million people are injured every year as a result of drunk driving accidents. These numbers include auto accidents and pedestrian accidents.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or wrongful death because of a drunk driving accident, our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will fight for your rights and aggressively pursue the damages you deserve. Drinking and driving is no accident, let us help you understand what steps to take next.

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A 45-year-old woman who drove the wrong way on a north Tampa roadway and caused a crash is now facing DUI charges.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the woman was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes on West Linebaugh Avenue just before 10 p.m. Friday.

Deputies believe the woman’s car then collided with another vehicle in the intersection of Linebaugh Avenue West and Race Track Road.  

Both drivers suffered minor injuries in the crash, but neither driver was transported to the hospital.

The woman was suspected of being under the influence and was subsequently evaluated and arrested for being impaired.

She is facing charges of DUI with property damage or personal injury.

Wrong way collisions occur when a driver is confused or just unaware of the road they are turning on. With that said, it makes sense that a good amount of these accidents involve drunk drivers.

Wrong way collision statistics are pretty staggering:

  • Nearly 360 people lose their lives every year in wrong-way collisions.
  • 22 percent of wrong way collisions resulted in fatalities.
  • Nearly 60 percent of wrong way drivers are impaired by alcohol.
  • Nearly 80 percent of wrong-way accidents occur at night (between 6pm and 6am).
  • Wrong-way accidents are more likely to occur on weekends.

Wrong way driving accidents are not the most common types of collisions, but they are certainly some of the most deadly. Wrong way accidents usually involve head-on collisions and frequently occur on high-speed roadways.

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A Tampa man was arrested and charged with DUI after a head-on traffic crash late Saturday night.

Deputies believe the 36-year-old crashed head-on into another vehicle while driving southbound in the northbound lanes on Anderson Road near Hoover Boulevard at approximately 11:15 p.m.

One person suffered minor injuries and was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The man was suspected of being under the influence and a breath test was submitted resulting in a BAC of .173/.168.

The man was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (over .15) and No Valid Driver’s License.

The Tampa area has seen an unusually high number of wrong way collisions recently. Sometimes knowing what to do in these situations can be the difference between life or death. The following tips can help you and your loved ones stay safe on Tampa highways.

  • Many wrong-way drivers are on the wrong-side of the road because they are intoxicated. If you have time to react, flash your lights to try and get their attention.
  • Swerve to the right to help avoid a collision with a wrong-way driver. You will often see wrong-way drivers entering the freeway veering to their right side of the road, or in the fast lane because they think it is the slower traffic lane. If you veer to your right this could prevent a terrible tragedy from occurring.
  • Stay alert, keep your head up, look ahead on the interstate at least a quarter of a mile so that you can give yourself time to try to see a wrong-way driver that could be coming your way.
  • Most wrong way collisions result in head-on crashes and sideswipe accidents. Always wear your seatbelt, as this could keep you alive in the event an unfortunate crash cannot be prevented.
  • Call the cops immediately If you see a driver going the wrong way! Try and report as many facts as you can, such as the year, make, model, location, direction, and license plate number, if possible.

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