Miami Heat dancer’s death involved driver who had been drinking

19160888_7a1751dd08-thumb-333x249Miami television news station, Channel 4, reports that the driver of the car that struck a motorcyclist in east Fort Lauderdale which resulted in the death of a Miami Heat dancer stated to police that he had consumed two alcoholic drinks.

Channel 4 was able to access the search warrant filed in Broward County court which stated the driver, Mario Careaga of Fort Lauderdale, advised the police that he had the drinks at the Galeria Mall in Fort Lauderdale. The accident occurred near downtown Fort Lauderdale. So far no criminal charges have been filed against Careaga.

Police records state that Careaga was driving his 2009 Mercedes when he struck Miami Heat dancer, 22, of Plantation, who was riding a motorcycle near downtown Fort Lauderdale. The motorcylist had been heading west in the right lane on East Sunrise Boulevard, near North Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale, when Careaga’s car rear-ended the motorcycle, propelling Lopez-Ruiz off it.

This case raises a number of issues from the standpoint of filing criminal charges against the driver. One of the potential issues in any criminally prosecution which might be pursued against the driver of the automobile is whether he was under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic. Usually, two drinks do not contain enough alcohol to impair a driver’s faculties. However, drivers suspected of DUI frequently understate the amount of alcohol consumed in an attempt to minimize their potential criminal exposure.

In situations like this other evidence may come into play, such as a blood alcohol test or a breathalyzer test to determine whether the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood exceeded the legal limit. There may also be a video of the driver performing roadside tests administered by the police or even a video from the bar where he apparently admits to have been drinking. Likewise his tab at the bar may also reveal how many drinks were ordered.

On the other hand, this could simply be the case of a non-impaired driver who simply wasn’t paying attention and may have negligently rear-ended the victim. It will be the responsibility of the Broward County State Attorney’s office to sort all of this out.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Mixing bicycling and beer?

bike_beer-thumb-333x214-84312This past March an event was organized by The Beer Snob Bicycle Pub Crawl where participants bike from one bar to another and try different beer at each stop. A review of thewebsite for the event reveals a map with a bike ride of approximately 10 miles with 5 stops at local bars extending from Miami Beach to Downtown. Each bar was renowned for its wide selection of beers. The event was scheduled for evening hours. Participants were reminded to drink “responsibly.”

According to one participant, this event has been hosted several times and does not encourage too much drinking — “The point of the ride isn’t to get drunk but to be social and be athletic. . . You don’t drink three beers at the first stop. You have a beer, ride, have a beer, ride. So it’s more about having a good beer, having good conversation and riding your bike.”

Certainly riding your bike and having a few beers with some friends can make for an enjoyable evening. The obvious question arises — do these two activities mix? Four stops along the cycle route with just one beer at each location can be enough to get some people intoxicated beyond the legal limit for driving a car. While Cycling Under the Influence (“CUI”) is not a crime in the State of Florida, the questionable safety rationale for this event appears to be that a cyclist under the influence is less dangerous to others than a driver of a car under the influence. Well maybe . . . . but the level of coordination to ride a bike is greater than operating a car and riders could well be a danger to themselves, bicycle helmet notwithstanding.

Who knows what accidents, if any, have occurred at prior events. An accident involving a single bicyclist generally is not reported to authorities. Nevertheless, the organizers of this event need to think about the effects of CUI and consider drinking the beer after the bike ride with designated drivers available.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims.

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Speeding Ferrari kills one, injures two others, and driver flees

ferrari-f430-scuderia-spider-16m-04-thumb-333x249-78464The driver of a Ferrari caused another car to rollover with the tragic result that one person is dead and another severely injured. The hit and run occurred on I-75, near Hialeah. After the high speed impact, both cars were disabled and the driver of the Ferrari fled on foot. Troopers say the other car flipped serval times and came to rest on the median.

Needless to say a Ferrari (even in South Florida), is a car that stands out. This one appears to a 2009 Ferrari, 430 Scuderia model, authorities say.

Hopefully, someone will know the driver and/or owner of this car because it is highly unusual and attracts attention.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims
All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Florida’s Legislature –Texting while Driving–A Profile in Cowardice

images[2]-thumb-333x220-23896Again, because of public outcry, our political “leaders” in Tallahassee were forced to consider a bill to ban texting while driving (“TWD”), but this time they finally did something, albeit reluctantly. After years of lip service about enacting a ban on TWD, but doing nothing because of the strong and corrupting influence of the telecommunications lobby, our politicians finally caved in. The repeated DWT tragedies on Florida’s roads forced the legislature to confront this issue in the most recent session. The Senate finally passed a water downed TWD bill whose most significant benefit is to provide cover for our state politicians.

The bill now has to pass the House and our Governor must sign off on it. This toothless legislation is the best case scenario for the telecommunications industry — so why wouldn’t our Republican friends sign off on it. The Florida legislature had to finally do something to ban TWD, but the penalties offered very little punishment to deter that type of phone usage by drivers.

Under the proposed bill, police would only be able to stop a driver for texting if he was actually in the process committing a different offense like speeding. Accordingly, if a police office observes some distracted driver TWD, but he is not speeding or driving incorrectly, the driver cannot be stopped and can continue to text and drive. Even if the driver is stopped and given a ticket, a first-time violator could only get a $30 fine! A draconian punishment if ever there was one.

While the bill marks a baby step in the right direction, our politicians once again have demonstrated that they are more concerned about the welfare of the lobbyists in Tallahassee than they are about the safety of the citizens of Florida. Virtually every other state has a bill banning TWD with substantially stronger penalties.

TWD, like DUI, presents a demonstrable danger to every one of us who is on the roadway and public opinion regarding this has changed. We can only hope that our political leaders summon the courage to likewise evolve and finally stand up to the telecommunications lobby rather than bowing down to it.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Most Common BAL level in traffic fatalities is .18, twice Florida’s limit

liquor-bottles[1]-thumb-333x221-49374A new report, “Prevalence of High BAC in Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes,” published by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that the most common Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) for drunk drivers in 2010 fatal crashes was .18. This is more that than twice the legal limit in all 50 states and the State of Florida. Overall, there was one alcohol-related fatality every hour.

Recently, Congress approved a $20 million program that will provide states with additional money if they require drivers convicted of drunk driving to have ignition interlock devices installed on their car.

Today, 17 states have laws mandating such devices for first-time DUI (driving under the influence) offenders who want to retain driving privileges..

At the end of the day, drunk driving has been a serious problem since the automobile was first used. Technology like the interlock devices can assist in enforcing the DUI laws.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

DUI crushes family on Florida Vacation

imagesCAV4YHL8-thumb-333x396-30572In August 2009, Roberto Zepka and Elizabeth Manzanilla were on vacation in Florida from their home in North Carolina, but instead of relaxation and enjoyment, the family experienced tragedy at the hands of an allegedly drunk driver who killed their 2 year old daughter and seriously injured their 11 year old son.

Prosecutors say John Molnar, 38, was driving drunk when he slammed into the family’s rental car causing the wrongful death and serious injury of the two young children. Molnar has a history of speeding and drinking. In December 1999, Molnar pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer. Molnar’s blood-alcohol level, according to authorities, measured 0.133 and 0.129 percent, significantly over Florida’s legal limit of .08.

Molnar was on his way home when his Cadillac hit a the family’s rented car. Isabella, who was riding in a car seat in the rear, was killed.

According to records, Molnar, failed field-sobriety exercises.The Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the scene thought Molnar appeared to under the influence, unable to stand without swaying, staggering, red eyed, speech speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath. Molnar admitted to having drunk one Yuengling beer at a friend’s house.

Recently, the family returned to Orlando, on what was supposed to be the day John Molnar plead guilty. Instead, Molnar changed his mind and elected to go trial rather than plea guilty, which was set for May of next year.

Understandably, the frustrated family expressed their opinions as to what they wanted the judge to do to Molnar. “This guy, he doesn’t have an idea of what he did to the whole family, to the life of my children,” said Manzanilla.

This type of case illustrates the all too common tragedy of DUI. Drivers, often times with a history of DUI or other offenses involving alcohol, can’t resist the opportunity to get behind the wheel rather than call a cab. In addition to the criminal penalties, which could involve substantial jail terms, drunk drivers are exposed to civil liability, which includes punitive damages as well as compensatory or actual damages. Frequently, punitive damages far outweigh the actual damages awarded by a jury in a personal injury case.Juries want to send drunk divers a lesson.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Google Robotic Car Rear-ends another vehicle

unnamed[1]-thumb-333x333-24753As you may know, Google has been experimenting with cars that can actually drive themselves without human assistance using Google’s map applications along with other hardware like video cameras, lasers and radar to have a driverless car. One of Google’s self-driving cars was involved in a rear-end collusion in California. As expected, critics are now questioning the safety of these vehicles.

Google asserts that at the of this accident, the car was not driving itself but was, in fact, operated by one of its employees. “Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car,” said a Google spokesperson, noting that its self-driving cars have traveled more than 160,000 miles autonomously without incident.

This minor accident brings into focus the question of when will computer technology be sufficient to replace the judgment exercised by humans beings when they drive. Now, we have GPS’s which guide us to our destination, cruise control and active warning systems to alert us when somebody is in our blind spot. While the technology to replace human drivers is not yet here, it is not inconceivable that this will be coming in the not to distant future.

Nevada will become the first state in the nation to pass legislation legalizing driverless vehicles after considerable lobbying by Google. Nevada’s DMV is working on a series of regulations regarding self-driving cars, including requirements for insurance.

Certainly self-driving cars present the promise of reducing accidents from human error but until that day occurs, we will all be surrounded on the road by human drivers using their cell phones, blasting their radios, and distracted by all sorts of outside stimulii. Accidents due to driver negligence will occur and many of these drivers will not have liability insurance.

While the Bible tells us to err is human and to forgive is divine, we should all think about what happens if we or a loved one are seriously injured through the negligence of a driver who has not purchased insurance. The only way to protect you and your family from the financial consequences of this scenario, is to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage from your insurance company. UM is not required by the State of Florida and is typically not included in your insurance policy when your agent sells you “full coverage.” You need to specifically ask your insurance agent for UM coverage when you purchase insurance or you will probably be out of luck if you get hit by an uninsured human driver.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Paris Hilton’s kid brother owes $5 Million to Gas Station Employee

images[2]-thumb-333x249-23896A Los Angeles jury has ruled that Barron Hilton (Paris’s little brother) is responsible for almost $ 5 million dollars in damages to a gas station attendant he struck with his car in 2008. Earlier that same day he was arrested for drunk driving.

Fernando Tellez claims he was severely injured and underwent several surgeries and medical procedures after 18-year-old Barron collided him with his Mercedes-Benz as he pulled into a Pacific Coast Highway gas station.

Before his accident with Tellez, Hilton was was arrested for DUI after his blood-alcohol level registered 0.14, well above California’s legal limit. Witnesses also said Barron Hilton was driving the wrong way down the highway for miles just before crashing into Tellez.

In the DUI proceeding, Barron pleaded no contest and received three years’ probation.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the $4.6 million judgment covers pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of earnings. Additionally, Hilton must also pay $225,000 in punitive damages and almost $71,000 in interest.

Barron was unavailable for comment. According to his Twitter page, the day the jury rendered its verdict, he was vacationing in the Hamptons.

Apparently the jury was unimpressed with Barron’s family background. Instead of showing his concern for the judicial process and the victim of the accident, Barron took off to the Hamptons. Looking at the amount of the verdict and the fact that it involves punitive damages, it appears that the jury was trying to send young Barron a message. I can’t help but wonder if Barron got it.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Hollywood, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Florida woman charged in 2009 death while DUI

Color_Martini_040528-thumb-333x499-16501A Horry County, South Carolina grand jury recently indicted a Florida woman on traffic homicide charges arising out of the August 2009 death of a 60-year-old woman on a South Carolina Highway. Kimberly Kelley Hilburn, 39, of Winter Haven, Fla., was charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in death; and two counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury, according to grand jury indictments.

Glendora Faye George, 60, was killed when Horry’s vehicle crashed into hers according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol said the Florida driver crossed over the center-line while driving a 1995 Chevrolet truck and struck George’s 1998 Ford sport utility vehicle. George, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple blunt-force traumas. Five other people in the vehicle with George were also injured and taken to area hospitals.

Hilburn, who was also injured, was arrested. Whether it is South Carolina or Florida or any other location in this country, there are likely to be drunk drivers on the road. There is not much one can do to protect themselves from the carnage that these drivers can cause, particularly in a scenario like this one where another car suddenly crosses over the centerline of the roadway.

There is however from an insurance point of view, much that you can do to protect you and your family. Typically drunk drivers have a previous history of traffic violations and accidents. When insurance companies review their driver’s license records they see an obvious red flag and may raise their insurance rates or flat out deny liability coverage to these drivers. Hence, a disproportionate number of drivers who drink and drive, often fail to have liability insurance, particularly in Broward County, Florida.

Armed with this knowledge, you can purchase uninsured motorist coverage from your own insurance company at a reasonable price, up to the amount of liability coverage that you purchase. Uninsured motorist coverage, will protect you and your family in the event that you are injured by a drunk driver who fails to have liability insurance to cover your injures.

As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention, is worth more than a pound of cure.” Unfortunately, accidents occur when you least expect them and then it is too late to purchase uninsured motorist coverage if the other driver is bare. The time to buy this most important coverage is now!

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at The Ben Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.