DUI Manslaughter Charges
A serious charge demands a serious defense lawyer
DUI manslaughter – that is, driving under the influence and contributing to the death of another person – is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with as a motorist. It requires an immediate legal defense headed up by a knowledgeable and experienced Lakeland defense attorney with plenty of experience handling DUI manslaughter cases.
Driving under the influence should never be taken lightly, but neither should prosecution of such serious offenses. I believe in providing my clients with experienced and skillful legal defense, especially those who are facing serious charges. If you’ve been charged with DUI manslaughter in Polk County, contact Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law today.
What is a DUI manslaughter charge in Florida?
To be charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida, a driver must be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and be the cause of an accident that resulted in the death of another person, such as a passenger, driver of another car, or pedestrian.
The three components of a DUI manslaughter charge are:
- Driving or Actual Physical Control: Florida law requires that it be shown that any DUI manslaughter defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle that contributed to the crash. This means that they were physically inside the vehicle (or on the vehicle in the case of a motorcycle) and able to operate it. Note that the law does not require proof that a DUI manslaughter defendant was actually driving or even that the vehicle was turned on.
- Under the Influence: The defendant is considered to be under the influence of alcohol if they have a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or greater at the time of the crash, or that their “Normal Faculties” were impaired. Driving under the influence of controlled substances also satisfies this element of the charge, as demonstrated by observations of how the driver’s typical faculties are impaired.
- Resulting Death: Any death that results from the crash satisfies this component of the crime, even if another driver or other negligent party contributed to the accident as well. For the purposes of this statute, the resulting loss of a fetus qualifies.
The “minimum mandatory” sentence for DUI manslaughter is four years in prison. However, under Florida’s Sentencing Guideline Scoresheet, the minimum is 10 years for a first offense. The maximum is 15 years in prison. These sentences apply to someone who has never been in trouble in their life before. The penalties can escalate if you have previous DUI convictions.
DUI manslaughter is considered a violent felony, with all the implications of a violent felony conviction for your career and your future. You may also be sued in civil court by the estate or family members of the deceased victim.
Vehicular homicide vs. DUI manslaughter
Vehicular homicide is a separate charge from DUI manslaughter that can carry much more severe penalties.
You can be charged with vehicular homicide if it is found that you were operating a motor vehicle with such gross neglect as to be “indifferent to human life,” or if it can be proven that you intended to kill or harm another person with your driving. Vehicular homicide is sometimes referred to as “DUI murder” when the driver of the vehicle is under the influence. The maximum penalty is 30 years in Florida prison.
How to beat a DUI manslaughter charge
Again, there are three elements of a DUI manslaughter charge: driving or actual physical control of the vehicle resulting in death. Disproving any of those three elements is sufficient to beat the charge.
Showing that you weren’t under the influence in a DUI manslaughter case is much the same as any other DUI charge. An attorney who understands the science behind your breath or blood test can dispute that evidence and potentially even get it thrown out. An experienced attorney may also be able to question whether the police had “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause” to pull you over or call into question the credibility of witnesses and prosecution “experts.”
If you’re arrested for DUI manslaughter, call me right away
DUI manslaughter charges are extremely severe felony charges. They are likely to result in consequences which will impact the rest of your life, including loss of your license, long jail sentences, extreme fines, and a felony which will remain on your record permanently. Without a competent attorney, you will be left to navigate the intricacies and complexities of the legal system on your own. The sooner you get a lawyer, the better. You need to start preserving evidence immediately: the vehicles, arrest scene, surveillance videos and witness statements are important to get right away.
Given the severity and extreme consequences of a DUI manslaughter charge, it is essential to have the right legal representation as you face these charges. Get a DUI manslaughter defense lawyer on your side who has a winning track record in serious cases, right here in Polk County. Call 863-688-4606 or use the online contact form for a free consultation.