A young woman from Fort Lauderdale has been charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter after tests of her blood revealed a blood-alcohol level of .17. The legal limit in Florida, as in most states, is .08.
The woman was involved in a fatal car crash in a Fort Lauderdale parking lot earlier this year. The woman is accused of losing control of her 2012 Porsche Panamera and striking two men sitting in the parking lot. Both men died.
The woman was not arrested at the scene of the accident because there was not yet a corresponding blood-alcohol test to prove that she was impaired. Simply getting into a fatal car accident by itself is not a crime. A fatal car accident only becomes a crime if a crime is committed while operating the car, such as DUI, reckless driving, or any other traffic-related criminal offense.
The woman surrendered to the jail upon learning that she was under arrest for DUI manslaughter. However, when she went before the first appearance (bond court) judge the following morning, the judge set the accused’s bond at almost half a million dollars. This is because the police had apparently received a tip that the accused woman was planning to flee to Ireland to escape prosecution. The woman has dual U.S. and British citizenship and allegedly applied to renew her passport while the investigation was pending.
When setting a bond in any criminal case, the bond court judge must assess whether the accused is a flight risk. Since the court received information that the accused was making plans to flee the country, the court increased the bond.
DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If convicted on both counts, the woman could face 30 years with a 4-year mandatory prison term.