DUI Manslaughter Penalties

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Statistics show that more than 5,000 accidents involving alcohol occur every year in Florida. Out of the total accidents, over 350 result in fatal injuries for at least one person involved. Although these numbers continue to decrease, they still account for a substantial amount of traffic-related injuries and fatalities across our state. On average, over 29% of annual traffic-related deaths are the result of a driver who was under the influence. As a result, law enforcement agencies are working hard to increase the punishment for individuals who engage in this type of reckless behavior.

Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is punished harshly in Florida. This is especially true in cases where another person is harmed by the acts of another. If a person loses their life due to an impaired driver, the impaired driver will most likely face charges related to DUI manslaughter. 

Unfortunately, there are many instances in which individuals are wrongfully accused of driving while impaired at the time of their accidents. These individuals face severe consequences from such convictions, which can have a life-long impact on them. When individuals are wrongfully accused of DUI manslaughter, they should contact a reputable Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

A Conviction In Florida For Driving Under The Influence

In Florida, a person can be charged with driving under the influence if they are under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance that impacts their ability to drive. Typically, this means individuals who have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher and those who show a breath-alcohol level over 0.08%.

Individuals convicted of this crime can face an array of penalties, including jail, fines, required alcohol abuse courses, and various other penalties. When individuals are injured, the penalties for the crime are increased.

A DUI Accident Involving Injury

Individuals who are impaired while operating their vehicles face a plethora of negative consequences for their actions. When these individuals are involved in accidents that result in injuries, the penalties they face increase drastically. Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained by victims, impaired drivers can face up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. As you can imagine, when victims die as a result of injuries sustained, the consequences a driver faces are even more severe. When a person dies in a motor vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver, the impaired driver can be charged with DUI manslaughter.

What Is DUI Manslaughter In Florida?

Under Florida law, individuals can be charged with DUI manslaughter if: 

  • The person drives a vehicle, or is found in physical control of a vehicle, while in the state of Florida; and
  • The person is either under the influence of alcohol or another chemical or controlled substance that impacted their normal abilities to operate their vehicle;
  • The person has a breath-alcohol level higher than or equal to 0.08%; or 
  • The person has a blood-alcohol level equal to or higher than 0.08%. 
  • Additionally, the person must have caused the death of another person either directly or indirectly while under the previously listed circumstances.

A person is said to be in actual physical control of their vehicle if they are physically in it or if they are on the vehicle and have the capability to operate it regardless of whether or not they are actually operating it at the time.

Individuals who are charged with DUI manslaughter lose their freedom and are forced to go to jail for an extended period. Unfortunately, there are many cases where drivers are falsely convicted of this crime. If you are facing a charge of DUI manslaughter, it is imperative for you to contact a criminal defense attorney in Florida as soon as possible.

Penalties For DUI Manslaughter In Florida

In Florida, impaired drivers who are charged with DUI manslaughter face an array of penalties. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, those accused can face various punishments, including:

DUI Manslaughter: Those convicted of this crime as a felony in the second degree can face up to $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.

Individuals who are convicted of this crime can face up to fifteen years of probation, community service, have their vehicle impounded, be required to attend DUI substance abuse courses, and they may be forced to undergo a psychosocial evaluation and substance abuse treatment.

DUI Manslaughter/ Leaving the Scene: If an individual leaves the scene of a DUI accident without releasing information or lending a hand in the situation, they can be charged with a First Degree Felony. In these cases, those accused can face up to $10,000 in fines and up to 30-years in prison.

Additionally, individuals convicted of DUI manslaughter may lose their driving privileges and acquire criminal convictions that cannot be removed from their permanent records.

Prosecutions For DUI Manslaughter Under Florida Law

Under Florida Law, DUI manslaughter is a criminal charge brought up against a person who is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, as a result of driving under the influence of such, they caused or directly contributed to the death of another person.

A person can be convicted of DUI manslaughter if the actions they are accused of result in the death of another human or an unborn child. Individuals who are convicted of DUI manslaughter face a minimum sentencing of four years in prison. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, those accused can face several years in prison followed by probation and community service. 

Can I Get A Hardship After a DUI Manslaughter Court Ordered Permanent Revocation? 

In some cases, offenders who are convicted of DUI manslaughter are ordered to surrender their driving privileges. In some cases, individuals are able to apply for hardship driving privileges. In order to do so, you must be able to do the following:

  • Show to the court that you completed an approved substance abuse course;
  • Serve at least 5 years of the revocation period;
  • Not have any prior convictions for any DUI related offenses;
  • Not have driven or consumed any alcohol or drugs within five years of making your request;
  • Not have been arrested for any drug or alcohol offenses within five years before the date of the hearing;
  • Be accepted into an SSSP for the remainder of your life; 
  • Gain reinstatement for the purposes of employment only for at least one year; or
  • Install an ignition interlock device for at least two years.

Working with a skilled criminal defense attorney will ensure your best chances of having your driving privileges reinstated after your conviction and release.

Defenses to DUI Manslaughter

Individuals who are charged with DUI manslaughter can argue various legal arguments in their defense. Being able to effectively argue against a DUI manslaughter conviction will help you reduce the charges so that you do not face as harsh consequences for a conviction. In addition to pretrial and trial defenses, common evidentiary defenses in DUI manslaughter cases include:

Illegal Traffic Stops: Law enforcement officers are only able to stop vehicles for one of two reasons – if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a traffic infraction or if the officer has probable cause that the driver committed a crime. There are many instances in which it can be shown that officers are mistaken in their reason for conducting a traffic stop. Successfully proving this in court can help a defendant by having all of the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop dismissed or suppressed.

Improper Field Sobriety Tests: In Florida, law enforcement officers are required to issue Field Sobriety Tests under various circumstances. These tests help officers to determine whether a person is impaired. Some challenges to these tests include whether the officer is familiar with the driver’s coordination and balance skills, whether the driver has a physical disability or any injuries that would make the results unreliable, or whether the officer was qualified to perform that tests. Additionally, it can be argued whether the tests were deemed unreliable by the court as some are not admissible. 

Insufficient Probable Cause: An arresting officer can only issue a DUI test if they have probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. If the officer can prove probable cause was based on unreasonable conclusions or insufficient evidence, then the arrest was illegally made and the evidence obtained can be suppressed.

Inadmissible Breath Results: It is no secret that the breathalyzer machines utilized by law enforcement agencies are seriously flawed. These tests are required to be done by very specific standards. The failure to properly maintain the machine or the failure to administer the test according to the requirements can result in the results being thrown out.

As you can see, one of the most effective techniques in having DUI manslaughter charges reduced or dismissed is by being able to prove that the field sobriety tests issued were done improperly. Regardless of whether you have a physical condition that made it difficult to perform the task or the officer was not qualified, there are various arguments that are applicable in these cases. 

Even if a prosecutor can successfully prove that a person was impaired at the time of the accident, they must further prove that the accident occurred due to the impairment. Working with a skilled and reputable criminal defense attorney in Florida is your best bet to proving your innocence and having your charges reduced or dismissed. There are far too many instances where victims who are injured in DUI related accidents then end up passing away as the result of an unrelated health problem. For instance, a person involved in a DUI accident dies at the hospital due to a heart attack. Accused drivers should not be convicted for a DUI manslaughter charge for this incident when they did not directly cause the death of the victim.  

The complexities surrounding DUI manslaughter convictions leave numerous opportunities for those falsely accused to prove their innocence. Although it may seem like a simple thing to do, it is imperative for those accused to work with someone who has extensive experience handling these fact-specific cases.

Working with a reputable DUI attorney in Florida will help you get your DUI manslaughter conviction reduced or dismissed. It is imperative that you contact an attorney who is well-versed and experienced in handling these cases.

A DUI Manslaughter Attorney In Florida Can Help You

Given the extremely harsh sentencing structure in Florida surrounding DUI manslaughter convictions, it is imperative for anyone accused of this crime to work with an attorney who can successfully mitigate the charges or have the case dismissed entirely. If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Florida, it is imperative that you contact a reputable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys at Musca Law have over 150-years of combined experience helping those accused protect their legal rights. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Florida work diligently to help those accused of crimes to have the best chance of winning their case.

We understand that individuals can be accused of crimes at any time of the day, which is why we are always here for you. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to assist those charged with criminal offenses. Our knowledgeable team will listen to the circumstances surrounding your case, provide the best legal advice regarding your options, and aggressively advocate for the justice you deserve. Attorneys at Musca Law understand the damage that a DUI manslaughter charge can create for you across many areas of your life. For this reason, we are dedicated to working tirelessly to ensure that you receive the best possible results under the law.

If you were accused of DUI manslaughter in Florida, it is crucial that you understand the lasting and devastating impact that this type of conviction can have on you and your life if you don’t take proactive action. Contact our law firm today at (888) 484-5057 to explore the legal options available to you.

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