DUI Manslaughter is a very serious crime in the State of Florida. Both the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Broward State Attorney's Office assign only the most experienced prosecutors to handle these sensitive charges.
In order to prove an accused person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the charge of DUI manslaughter, Florida law states:
1) The Defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.
2) While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, Defendant
(a)was either under the influence of alcoholic beverages, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired.
(b)had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 of higher.
3) As a result, Defendant caused or contributed to the cause of the death of the victim.
DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison. If you leave the scene of the accident or fail to render aid, the charge becomes a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.
In the State of Florida, there is a four-year mandatory minimum sentence associated with the charge of DUI manslaughter.
A DUI by itself is a serious charge, but when it is alleged that somebody died as a result of your driving under the influence, the sentence not only becomes harsher, but the amount of time and energy put into your prosecution increases.
What can be troubling about a DUI manslaughter charge is that the family of the alleged victim will likely have the final say over any possible plea negotiations. If the family of the deceased wants you to go to prison, the State Attorney's Office will not offer you anything less than a prison sentence.
On the other hand, DUI manslaughter has many defenses. For one, it is not enough that the State prove that your were impaired by drugs or alcohol. The State must prove that as a result of impairment, you caused or contributed to the cause of the accident. If the alleged victim is completely at fault for the accident, then the most you can be found guilty of is a misdemeanor DUI. While those DUI penalties are severe, they are not nearly as bad as those for DUI manslaughter.
Additionally, much like with an ordinary DUI, the State must still prove that you were impaired. If your blood alcohol reading is below a 0.08, you have a much greater chance of beating the charge. Even if your blood alcohol reading was higher than a 0.08, the same tactics used to attack blood alcohol evidence in an ordinary DUI case can be applied to DUI manslaughter.
DUI manslaughter not only carries a mandatory prison term, a conviction can result in the permanent revocation of your driver's license.
DUI manslaughter cases are taken seriously by the prosecutors. If charged, you will need a South Florida criminal defense attorney who will fight even harder for you. This representation includes getting the accused a bond, investigating the scene of the accident, studying each and every police report, and filing motions on behalf of the client. And if a resolution cannot be reached, then the criminal lawyer must be prepared to defend the accused at trial.
If you, a family member, or a friend have been charged with DUI manslaughter in either Miami or Broward, please call my office.