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There’s no greater sense of injustice than losing a young family member due to someone else’s decision to drink and drive. It seems that no matter how stringent Florida DUI laws have become, some people think they can operate a vehicle safely even when they are intoxicated.

Those who have taken to the streets in Florida on bicycles, whether for recreation or commuting, know that many drivers seem to ignore the right of cyclists to share the road with motorists.

Recently a 16-year-old sophomore student at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce died after his bicycle was struck by a drunk driver in Vero Beach. Police said three teens were riding their bikes over the 17th Street Bridge or the Alma Lee Loy Bridge in the westbound bicycle lane when a 2008 Honda swerved into the bike lane and hit the lead cyclist.

The cyclist was thrown off the bike into the Indian River Lagoon.  The teen’s body was found in the water several hours later. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The 21-year-old driver of the vehicle was arrested. She was charged with felony DUI manslaughter, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Many Florida bicycle accidents occur when drivers pass bicycles so close that they actually force cyclists off the road. Other common cycle accident occurrences include pull out in front of bicycles and cars not seeing cyclist beside them when making right turns. Such dangerous driving behavior is often  due to distracted driving, reckless driving, and/or drunk driving where reaction time is impaired.

Bicyclists have the right to be on the road as passenger cars, motorcycles, and trucks. It is the responsibility of motorists to drive with sufficient care so as not to endanger the lives of cyclists. When someone dies in a bicycle accident and the driver is arrested with DUI, the family members of the killed cyclist may use the driver’s traffic violation as proof of the driver’s negligence in trying to recover damages.

While nothing can undo the damage brought by a tragic DUI accident, holding the negligent driver legally liable for the wrongful death of a loved one can help family members move on with their lives.