The complex DUI case involving a man from the South Florida is an example of the often unforeseen penalties of being convicted of DUI in this state. Thomas Cypress has just been given a $35 million judgement to compensate the family of two people killed by him when driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009.
Cypress had been tested for blood alcohol level after his arrest and was found to have been driving with three times the state legal limit for alcohol of 0.08%. The settlement amount is in two parts, awarded in separate judgments as a part of a wrongful death claim against him. 5 of the 35 million dollars was awarded for punitive damages, normally only awarded when willful negligence has been demonstrated.
In this case, the defendant had little going for him that would help to exonerate him from the DUI offense. It was one of those examples of a situation in which he would have probably been better off just not drinking and driving. The full details of the case are symptomatic of just what might be in store if someone is arrested for a repeat DUI offense and when somebody is seriously injured or killed as a result of their driving.
Cypress had veered across the center line on the Tamiami Trail in February 2009, and crashed head on straight into the sedan belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who were visiting the state from Maryland. He was apparently driving on a suspended license – the result of an earlier DUI conviction. In fact, this was the third time that Cypress had been arrested for DUI and he pleaded guilty to this offense, despite having a high profile lawyer to help him through the court proceedings.
Florida has very strict rules for anyone convicted for DUI and, in some situations like the one here, this does seem to be justified. However, there are often situations in which DUI arrests are made with invalid evidence, or evidence which is marginal. Sobriety tests, for instance, which are the sort of tests made when someone is first pulled over by a police officer, can be very subjective and can also be intimidating and lead to behavior which can be interpreted in the wrong way. Chemical tests for alcohol are not always completely accurate and tests by breathalyzer, for instance, are notorious for yielding inaccurate results.
Whether this is your first DUI arrest or if you have been convicted for DUI at some time in the past you will certainly need an aggressive and determined Tampa DUI lawyer to help you plan your defense. DUI convictions can result in harsh penalties. Thomas Cypress is serving 12 years in jail for his crime, in addition to the recent court judgment that he pays the huge compensation amount to the adult children of the two people he killed. It often comes as a surprise to those who are arrested of DUI to learn that they can spend time in jail, even for a first offense. This is unusual, unless someone is seriously injured, but remains a possibility.
DUI is normally a misdemeanor, unless it is a repeat offense or somebody has been seriously inured, but this still means a criminal conviction. DUI convictions will also result in a fine, points on the driver license, suspension of the license for a minimum period and possible compulsory attendance at DUI school. These are penalties meted out by the criminal court. If somebody has been injured, then a personal injury claim may also be made, or a wrongful death claim, if somebody has died as a result of proven negligence.
The penalties may seem overwhelming for anyone who has been arrested for DUI for the first time, but they are not automatic as a result of an arrest. With the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney, a DUI charge can be dismissed if proof of DUI is not convincing. In other circumstances, the penalties may be reduced as the result of a systematic and skillful defense.