A 24-year old Palm Beach County woman’s blood-alcohol level was allegedly .24 when she struck and killed a motorcyclist on September 7, 2013.
Florida Highway Patrol investigators believe that the woman may have rear-ended the motorcyclist at a speed of 75 miles per hour while traveling on I-95.
This is the woman’s second DUI. Her first was in 2009.
She is being charged with DUI manslaughter and is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail on a $50,000 bond.
DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Florida law mandates a 4-year mandatory prison sentence that can only be waived by the prosecutor.
Most DUI manslaughters are thoroughly investigated, sometimes for months, prior to an arrest being made. This gives investigators a chance to review accident conditions as well as the blood-alcohol results of the accused.
Remember, simply getting into a fatal crash while impaired is not a DUI manslaughter. That, by itself, is a misdemeanor DUI. A DUI manslaughter requires the state to prove causation beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that the prosecution must prove that the accused was driving in a manner that caused the death of the alleged victim due to impairment from drugs or alcohol.
From what I can gather about this case, it was a rear-end collision at 75 miles per hour. The speed, by itself, is not alarmingly high. The specific facts of the case will be assessed to determine how the accident took place and whether the accused woman’s alleged impairment caused the accident.
If there is no causation, then the accused cannot be convicted. Lack of causation is a trial defense to DUI manslaughter. This defense is more successful with the help of expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction experts.
Eric Matheny is a Miami DUI manslaughter attorney and Broward DUI manslaughter attorney.