1. ST. AUGUSTINE, FL (December 11, 2019) — A car wreck that happened on September 26, 2019, in the St. Augustine area killed an unborn child. Now the driver of that vehicle faces DUI Manslaughter charges, among other criminal courts, for her role in the wreck according to a news report appearing on Jacksonville.com. The Florida Highway Patrol completed its investigation and jailed a 21-year-old woman as a result. The woman, who resides in St. Augustine, will appear in court on charges of DUI Manslaughter of an unborn child, DUI causing serious bodily injuries, DUI causing damage, and driving on a suspended license. 

According to the news report, the fatal crash happened around 9:00 p.m. on September 26, 2019. The allegations contained in the arrest affidavit for the 21-year-old woman indicate that she was operating a Nissan Altima sedan while her sister was riding in the front passenger’s seat. The driver’s sister was reportedly 20 weeks pregnant at the time. 

The Nissan approached the intersection of Kings Street Extension and North Holmes Boulevard and ran a stop sign. The Nissan drove across the path of an oncoming Chevy Colorado pickup truck. The two vehicles encountered each other in a violent collision.

The powerful collision caused the passenger of the Nissan Altima to sustain severe injuries. The article does not recount the nature of the passenger’s injuries. However, the news article indicates that the unborn child died as a result of the injuries to the mother. The article did not say if the accused was injured in the crash or whether the driver of the pickup truck was hurt in the collision either.

The 21-year-old St. Augustine woman drove with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08 percent BAC. The article did not indicate whether the accused had a lawyer, nor did it state the woman’s bond status.

Charges of DUI Manslaughter in Florida

A person charged with DUI Manslaughter in Florida is facing a potentially lengthy prison sentence, along with a minimum-mandatory prison sentence, fines, probation, and loss of the privilege to drive or obtain a driver’s license in Florida. Under Florida Statutes 2019, section 316.193, a person convicted of DUI Manslaughter of a living person or an unborn child must serve a four-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony. Accordingly, the person convicted on that charge could receive up to fifteen years incarceration in the Florida state prison. The charge could rise to a first-degree felony if the accused failed to stop and make himself or herself known or failed to render aid.

The sentencing guidelines currently in use in Florida establish DUI Manslaughter as a Level 8 crime. Therefore, the judge must sentence the defendant to 124 ½ months incarceration, with four years minimum mandatory prison time. The court could place the defendant on fifteen years of probation, mandatory community service, license revocation, and conditions to renew the license.

The government, as always, bears the burden of proof. To be convicted of DUI Manslaughter, the accused must have been in the possession or had control over the vehicle while impaired by alcohol or another chemical, or while 0.08 BAC or above. Finally, the person accused must have caused the victim’s death directly or indirectly.