Boca Raton, FL – There are some drivers who have serious problems with drug or alcohol abuse, and they have already been convicted for crimes related to driving under the influence. It is possible that an accident victim may be struck by a driver who has a suspended license due to a DUI conviction, or multiple prior offenses. When this happens, a civil lawsuit for damages will be mostly focused on how the defendant acted and caused the specific accident in question, rather than their prior acts or habits related to substance abuse. 

Evidence of traffic violations during an accident

Evidence of traffic violations, including driving under the influence, can generally be admitted to show negligence if is directly relevant to the particular accident and the civil case for damages. This is usually beneficial to the plaintiff for the purposes of showing that the defendant was not operating their vehicle with care, which proves the breach of care required in a negligence lawsuit. However, prior similar offenses are generally not fair game for the plaintiff’s case. 

Character evidence

In a trial setting, it is not usually allowed for one party to introduce evidence of prior offenses or other bad acts or a similar pattern of conduct. This is because a trial is supposed to be about one specific instance, and not whether a person has a propensity to act in a certain way or a bad character. 

This is outlined in Federal Rule of Evidence 404, and the Florida code of evidence has a similar provision that is active in the state. The rule specifically states that evidence of a person’s character or character trait cannot be admitted to a trial to prove that the person acted the same way in the instance in question. There are some rare exceptions where this kind of evidence is used to show motive, opportunity, or intent, but this will generally not be applicable to a civil accident case.  

The rules of evidence are designed to exclude certain facts or pieces of information that may be too prejudicial or irrelevant. This is done to save time, ensure that jury members do not decide the case based on unnecessary facts, and keep the focus of a trial on one issue rather than other pieces of information that may not be directly relevant. 

Talking with a personal injury lawyer to get more information

Anyone who is considering taking legal action after an accident should always review their situation with a local licensed attorney. Rosenberg Injury Law is a firm dedicated to helping accident victims in the Boca Raton area with advice and representation. 

Firm contact info:

The Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Rosenberg

5255 North Federal Highway, 3rd Floor, Boca Raton, Florida 33487


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