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DUI Manslaughter Lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida (FL)

Florida DUI Manslaughter Laws, Penalties & Defenses 

DUI Manslaughter

Any automobile accident involving the death of another individual is tragic. When the accident involves an impaired driver, Florida law imposes harsh consequences if the accused is convicted of DUI manslaughter. Under Florida Statute Section 316,193(3)(c)(3), DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony that carries with it a prison sentence between 4 and 15 years. 

Florida law dictates that DUI manslaughter includes any individual who is guilty of a DUI, which is defined in Florida Statute Section 316.193(1), and who contributes or causes the death of another person or unborn quick child. The term “unborn quick child” is defined under Florida Statute Section 782.071 as a viable fetus.

Seasoned Florida DUI Defense Attorneys in Fort Myers, FL

If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter in Fort Myers, FL, you should immediately contact a seasoned attorney at Musca Law in order to protect yourself from this serious charge. Contact Musca Law today to learn more about your legal rights and defenses that may be available in your case.

DUI manslaughter cases are often complex. That is why it is critical for you to work with an experienced attorney who is adept at handling this serious felony offense. These cases may involve a blood sample that was taken by an officer and sent to a crime lab. These matters may also involve notice that the accused receives requesting medical records through a subpoena duces tecum. 

If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, you can contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling toll-free 1-888-484-5057.

Subpoena for Medical Records of Blood Alcohol Content

The State’s Attorney’s Office can obtain medical records of the accused by issuing a subpoena duces tecum. A first indication that the State’s Attorney’s Office is looking to receive an accused’s medical records includes (i) a HIPAA 15-day letter for Blood Alcohol Content; or (ii) a Notice of Issuance of an Investigating Subpoena for Medical Records.

If you received the above from the State’s Attorney’s Office, it is critical that you immediately contact one of Musca Law’s seasoned Fort Myers defense attorneys. Our attorneys assist clients facing serious DUI charges, including cases where property damage, injuries or death occurred. 

You have a right to privacy that protects the confidentiality of your medical and hospital records. When the state attempts to infringe upon that right, it is faced with a significant burden and must comply with the strict due process rights afforded to an accused during an evidentiary hearing, only if the proper objections are raised. 

DUI Manslaughter Penalties

In Florida, DUI manslaughter is a crime that is charged as a second-degree felony. It is classified as a Level 8 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. A person facing a conviction for a second-degree felony may be sentenced to prison for up to 15 years.

Other consequences that the court may impose following a DUI manslaughter conviction may also include the following:

  • An extended probation period;
  • a maximum of $10,000 in monetary fines;
  • the permanent revocation of one’s driver’s license;
  • community service;
  • impoundment of the accused’s vehicle;
  • DUI school; and
  • Alcohol abuse treatment.

Causation in a DUI Manslaughter Case in Florida

Under Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a), an impaired person must submit to a blood test if he or she caused the death or serious bodily injury of another individual. The law further states that police may use reasonable force to require a person to submit to a blood test that must be conducted in a reasonable manner.

In order for the police to seize a blood sample from an accused, they must have a sufficient basis to suspect the following:

  • The person accused drove or was in actual physical control of an automobile;
  • He or she was under the influence of alcohol at that time; and 
  • The vehicle caused serious bodily injury or the death of another person.

Preserving Evidence in a Vehicular Homicide Case

In order to prosecute a vehicular homicide charge, the state does not need to establish that the driver intended to cause harm to others. Instead, it must be asserted that the operation of the vehicle was in a manner that was likely to cause bodily injury or death to another individual.

At Musca Law, we understand how important it is to hire the most competent and qualified expert witnesses, including an accident reconstruction expert in Florida who plays an integral role in the defense. Note that Florida law enforcement officers will conduct their own investigation to support the vehicular manslaughter charges.

This is why the defense should immediately retain an expert in order to conduct an independent investigation which may be helpful in developing defenses in one’s case.

Our criminal defense attorneys approach each case diligently and aggressively, and often file motions to suppress evidence, motions in limine to exclude prejudicial evidence at trial, and motions to dismiss the criminal charges. The key to obtaining the best results is to fight each part of the state’s case, piece by piece.

A seasoned Fort Myers criminal defense attorney must take several steps in order to protect the accused’s rights during an investigation. This includes the following:

  • Being present for police interrogation of the accused;
  • Taking photographs of the damage that was sustained by the automobiles involved in the accident;
  • Taking photographs of the location where the accident happened, including any tire marks left on the road;
  • Obtaining statements from witnesses; and
  • Obtaining medical records of an individual who sustained injuries or died in the accident as a result of his or her injuries.

Permanent Driver’s License Revocation & Hardship Reinstatement

In the state of Florida, an individual may face a permanent suspension of his or her driver’s license following a DUI manslaughter conviction. If the person is facing a DUI Manslaughter Conviction with No Prior DUI Convictions, he or she may have his or her license reinstated after 5 years since the time the initial revocation occurred and after the end of the applicable prison terms. 

A hardship reinstatement hearing can be held if the following conditions are met:

  • The driver was required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a 2-year period of time;
  • The driver finished DUI school and has been supervised under a DUI program for the remaining period of his or her license revocation. A failure to report to substance abuse treatment will result in the immediate cancellation of the hardship driver’s license;
  • The individual has not driven a vehicle with a suspended license for a period of 5 years or more prior to the hearing;
  • The individual has not been placed under arrest for any drug-related crime for a period of 5 years or more prior to the hearing; and
  • The driver has not ingested any alcohol or drugs for a period of five years or more prior to the hearing.

Felony DUI Charges in Fort Myers, Florida

The felony DUI defense attorneys at Musca Law have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing individuals facing misdemeanor or felony charges associated with drunk or impaired driving.

Call 888-484-5057 to speak with an experienced DUI Manslaughter attorney in Fort Myers, Florida.

What constitutes a Felony DUI? Although most DUI cases in Fort Myers, FL, are classified as a misdemeanor, felony charges are filed for the following types of offenses:

  • fourth DUI over the course of one’s lifetime;
  • DUI manslaughter;
  • A third DUI within 5 years of any prior conviction;
  • DUI resulting in serious bodily injury;
  • DUI with fleeing an accident scene involving non-serious injuries;
  • DUI with fleeing an accident scene involving serious bodily injuries; or
  • DUI with fleeing an accident scene resulting in death.

Felony for Third DUI within 10 Years

A third DUI within ten years of any prior DUI conviction is punishable:

  • as a felony in the third-degree;
  • a monetary fine ranging from $2,000 and up to $5,000;
  • a maximum of a 5-year prison sentence;
  • a minimum imprisonment of 30 days;
  • the installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 years after a person has their license reinstated;
  • the impoundment of one’s vehicle for 90 days; and
  • a minimum 10-year revocation of one’s driver’s license, although he or she may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 2 years.

Fourth DUI in a Lifetime

A fourth or subsequent DUI is charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable:

  • a prison sentence of up to 5 years;
  • A fine ranging from $2,000 up to $5,000; and
  • A lifetime revocation of the offender’s driver’s license with the potential for a reinstatement pursuant to a hardship after 5 years.

DUI with Serious Bodily Injury in Fort Myers, Florida (FL)

Under Florida Statute Section 316.193(3), any individual who caused serious bodily injury when driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face a third-degree felony charge, which is associated with a fine of $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to 5 years. The individual may also have their driver’s license revoked for a minimum of 3 years.

DUI Manslaughter Penalties in Fort Myers, Florida (FL)

Under Florida Statute 316.193(1) and (3)(c)(3), the crime of DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony that is punishable by:

  • a maximum prison sentence of 15 years;
  • a minimum prison sentence of 124.5 months;
  • a monetary fine of up to $10,000; and
  • the revocation of one’s driver’s license on a permanent basis.

Felony DUI Fleeing the Scene of an Accident Involving Non-Serious Injuries, Serious Bodily Injury or Death

If an individual is charged with a felony DUI after leaving the scene of a crash involving non-serious injuries, serious bodily injury or death, the associated consequences depend upon the type of injury that occurred. 

If the accident involved non-serious injuries to another individual, the DUI offense can be charged as a felony in the third-degree, which carries with it a penalty of up to 5 years in jail and a monetary fine of $5,000.

If the accident involved serious bodily injury inflicted to another individual, the DUI offense can be charged as a felony in the second-degree, which carries with it a prison term of up to 5 years and a $10,000 fine.

If the accident involved the death of another individual, the crime can be charged as a felony in the first-degree, which carries with it a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years and a $10,000 fine.

Special Defenses for Felony DUI Cases in Florida

Special defenses may apply in a felony DUI case involving death or personal injuries of another, including DUI manslaughter. These are as follows:

  • Blood draw. This defense may apply if a blood sample was taken by police without a warrant or the free and voluntary consent of the accused.
  • Crash report privilege. This provides immunity to an individual who issued a statement during the investigation of a DUI manslaughter case in Florida.
  • Field sobriety test. During an investigation of a DUI, police may ask an individual to step out of his or her vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. If this is taken after an accident, the results may not be accurate due to the driver being injured or in shock.

  • Breathalyzer test. If airbags were deployed in an accident, this can affect the breathalyzer machine and record a higher, inaccurate reading.

  • Wheel witness. If an individual left his or her vehicle after the crash but before law enforcement arrived at the scene, they may have difficulty in establishing that the individual was the driver, especially if he or she does not admit to driving or the admissions are excluded as evidence under the accident report privilege.
  • Intervening cause. If the accused did not cause or contribute to the death of another individual or unborn quick child, then this defense may apply in his or her case.

  • BAC level. This defense can be asserted if an individual’s BAC was not above the legal limit of 0.08% at the time he or she was brought into custody.

  • Physical control. This DUI defense can be raised if the individual who was arrested for a DUI was not in physical control of his or her vehicle.

  • Chemical test. Evidence obtained from an improperly administered test can be excluded from being admitted at trial.

  • Miranda warnings. If you did not receive Miranda warnings at the time of your arrest and you made statements to police, these statements can be deemed inadmissible in court and this defense can be raised.

  • Causation. TA defense attorney can assert this defense if the prosecution cannot prove that the accused individual actually caused injuries or death to another person.

DUI Manslaughter FAQs

When representing clients, we are often asked a number of questions, the most common of which are as follows:

Is a DUI always prosecuted as a misdemeanor or can it be charged as a felony?

A person can face a third-degree felony charge if he or she is convicted of a third DUI that happened within 10 years of any prior conviction. A third-degree felony can also be charged if the individual faces a fourth DUI conviction or more, regardless of when the prior conviction occurred.

A DUI can also be charged as a felony in the first or second-degree if the impaired individual caused serious bodily injury or the death of another person. A felony in the first-degree can be charged if an impaired driver caused death to another person and fled the scene of the accident.

I am being charged with a DUI with property damage/ non-serious injury/serious bodily injury/death. What is the difference between these offenses?

A misdemeanor in the first-degree is brought if an impaired driver caused a crash that involved non-serious injuries and/or property damage.

A felony in the third-degree is brought if the impaired driver caused an accident resulting in serious bodily injury.

A felony in the second-degree is charged if the impaired driver caused an accident involving the death of an individual or unborn quick child.

A felony in the first-degree is charged when a person dies following a DUI-related accident and the at-fault driver leaves the crash scene.

Can I serve my prison term in a residential alcoholism treatment program? 

Yes. Under certain circumstances, a court may choose to allow a convicted individual to serve a portion or all of his or her prison term in a residential program for the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction. The time spent in such a program is credited by the court toward the imprisonment term.

If arrested for a DUI, is there a period of time that I have to remain in jail before I can be released?

Yes. A person who is arrested may be released from jail if he or she is no longer visibly impaired, when 8 hours have passed from the time the individual was arrested, or his or her BAC is less than 0.05%.

Your Life and Freedom Depend Upon It; Call Musca Law Today to Learn More About Your Legal Rights

Contact a seasoned Florida DUI Manslaughter law attorney in Fort Myers, Florida at Musca Law to discuss your Fort Myers, Florida DUI manslaughter case. Call 888-484-5057 to schedule a free and completely confidential case evaluation.

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