What is Accident Report Privilege and How Does it Apply to DUIs in Florida?
Florida law requires that all drivers who were in an accident report the accident immediately. However, this requirement, in some cases, would force a driver into incriminating themselves, which they have every right not to do.
Florida thinks it’s so important that these accidents be reported, that nothing you say while reporting the accident can be used against you in a court of law. This is known as Accident Report Privilege.
Understanding Accident Report Privilege
There is no law that can require an individual to sacrifice their Constitutional rights and this includes the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself.
However, police officers need to be able to file detailed reports on accidents and, in order to do so, they need accurate information. Those providing such information may be required to incriminate themselves to ensure the information is accurate. To ensure that information requests don’t violate Constitutional rights, the law provides immunity from prosecution for all those who report accurate information, even when that information implicates them in a crime (such as a DUI).
Accident Report Privilege and DUI
The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to refuse to incriminate yourself. However, it only extends to verbal utterances. It does not extend to DNA, breathalyzer tests, or any other kind of chemical test. In other words, while nothing you say can be used against you in a court of law, chances are, if you admit to driving drunk, the police can still charge you on the basis of a blood or breath test. Further, witness statements are not privileged, so they too can be used against you.
In other words, Accident Report Privilege will likely not save you from DUI charges.
How Does Accident Report Privilege Help?
Police will generally attempt to solicit information from witnesses and the parties involved in an accident. If (in the process of making statements that help the police complete the accident report) the individual implicates themselves in a crime, nothing they say to police can be used against them in a criminal proceeding.
However, once the officer has that information, they may be able to find other evidence that proves you committed a crime. While your statements can be excluded, this other evidence cannot be.
Does Accident Report Privilege Apply to My Case?
Whether or not accident report privilege can be used to exclude evidence related to a specific crime depends entirely on the situation. Chances are, if you provided police with testimony that implicates you, there may be cause to believe that you can get that information excluded. That doesn’t mean that your case will automatically be dismissed. But it could hurt the prosecution’s case.
Talk to an Orlando DUI Attorney Today
If you’re being charged with DUI in Orlando, call the Florida DUI defense lawyers at FL DUI Group today to learn more about how we can protect your license and your future.