A person convicted of DUI in Florida faces not only possible jail time, but also money penalties. In the event that the person is involved in a drunk driving accident that causes harm to someone else (or someone else’s property), he or she may also be required to pay restitution. The Fourth District Court of Appeal’s recent ruling in Ianieri v. State is an example of just how steep restitution payments can be.

Tiffany Ianieri was convicted of drunk driving as well as “causing serious bodily injury” after driving into a construction zone, where she struck a worker with her vehicle. Ianieri’s driver’s license was suspended at the time and a sobriety test after the accident showed that her blood alcohol content level was over the legal limit. The construction worker suffered a broken leg and knee along with head trauma.

After pleading guilty, Ianieri was sentenced to three years in jail (to be followed by a year-and-a-half of probation) and ordered to immediately pay restitution in the amount of $327,311.34.

On appeal, Ianieri challenged the immediate restitution payment, arguing that she is unable to pay. Citing the Fifth Circuit’s 1993 decision in Boss v. State, a case in which that court found that a person unable to pay a restitution order immediately should be allowed to pay in installments, the court held that a trial court “should consider the financial resources of the defendant in making determinations regarding restitution.” Specifically, “if the evidence does not show defendant’s ability to immediately pay the restitution, the trial court should set a later date for payment or create a payment schedule that reflects the ability of the defendant to pay,” the court ruled.

Here, the court found that the trial court should have created a payment schedule, rather than requiring Ianieri to pay the entire restitution amount immediately, because the evidence did not show that she had the ability to do so. As a result, the court reversed the restitution order and remanded the case back to the trial court for creation of a payment schedule.

Notably, the court did not find the total restitution amount – more money than many people make in several years – excessive. The case is a good example of the serious consequences of a DUI conviction. Not only will Ms. Lanieri be spending a significant amount of time behind bars, she also has quite a bill to pay.

A DUI conviction is a serious matter that can have a far-reaching effect on your life. As this case shows, the fines and penalties for driving under the influence are severe: you could be fined thousands of dollars and ordered to pay even more in restitution in addition to having your driver’s license revoked and spending months or even years in prison. If you’re facing a DUI charge in Florida, your best option is to consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal defenses and the best course of action. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are experienced in handling DUI cases and have consistently provided high quality representation to clients all over Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Pompano Beach.

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