Florida DUI Manslaughter Laws
DUI manslaughter cases in Florida can be especially tragic and can carry serious penalties for those convicted. If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter, it is imperative that you retain experienced counsel to represent you and fight the allegations. The lawyers at Musca Law have more than 150 years of combined experience in criminal defense, including DUI and DUI manslaughter cases, and we know how to obtain the best results for our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our Florida DUI manslaughter defense attorneys.
Florida’s Definition of DUI Manslaughter
Florida Statute § 316.193 states that a person will be charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida if he or she:
- Is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point of impairment; or
- Has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher (measured by blood sample or breath test); and
- Drives a motor vehicle or has actual physical control over a motor vehicle; and
- Causes or contributes to causing the death of another person, including an unborn child.
In other words, if you drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cause an accident that leads to someone else’s death, you will be charged with the crime of DUI manslaughter in Florida.
Legal Requirement for Blood Testing in Florida DUI Manslaughter Cases
State law, described in Florida Statute § 316.1933, requires that a blood test be performed on anyone suspected of DUI manslaughter or DUI involving serious bodily injury. The test is not optional, and the law specifically states that law enforcement officers are allowed to use reasonable force to require a suspect to submit to the test.
In order for the test requirement to be triggered, the following factors must be present:
- The law enforcement officer has probable cause in believing the suspect is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- The suspect was driving a motor vehicle or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle; and
- The suspect’s vehicle caused the death of another person.
If these factors are all met, the officer must facilitate a blood test to check for drugs and alcohol. The test has to be performed by a person authorized to do so under state law, which does not include police officers. The results of the test will be key evidence in the state’s case against a defendant, so it is in the best interest of the defense to try to invalidate or refute the results if they showed illegal drugs in the system of the defendant, a BAC of .08 or higher, or both.
Penalties for DUI Manslaughter in Florida
In most Florida DUI manslaughter cases, the defendant will be charged with a second-degree felony. For this level of crime, a conviction can result in the following penalties:
- Imprisonment up to 15 years
- Mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison
- A fine up to $10,000
- Permanent loss of driver’s license
- Placement of an ignition interlock device if the defendant’s driving privileges are ever reinstated
- Vehicle impoundment
- Long-term probation
- Mandatory drug and/or alcohol counseling
There are also emotional, mental, social, and financial consequences to a DUI manslaughter conviction that far outlast any prison term. Families can be torn apart and thrown into an uncertain future when a loved one is sent away for this type of crime. An experienced DUI manslaughter defense lawyer, like those at Musca Law, can work to reduce or eliminate the harsh penalties associated with a conviction.
Driver’s License Revocation for Manslaughter Conviction
One of the penalties for a DUI manslaughter conviction in Florida is the loss of driving privileges. A defendant could lose his or her driver’s license permanently or temporarily, depending on the facts of the case. Some defendants might be eligible for a reinstated license after five years, but this is only available if the person has had no previous DUI convictions.
In certain cases, a person convicted of DUI manslaughter can apply for a hardship driver’s license renewal for employment purposes only. Any renewed driving privileges will depend on whether the person has met certain requirements, which include:
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol in the five years prior to the driver’s license reinstatement hearing;
- No infractions for driving with a revoked license in the five years prior to the hearing;
- No arrests for drug-related crimes in the five years prior to the hearing;
- Completing DUI school and complying with supervision by the DUI program;
- Using an ignition interlock device for two years if driving privileges are reinstated.
It is difficult, but not impossible, to have your driving privileges restored after a DUI manslaughter conviction. Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether this is a possibility in your case.
Defending Against DUI Manslaughter Charges in Florida
Several defenses might be available in a Florida DUI manslaughter case. The particular defenses raised will turn on the facts and nature of the case. Defenses presented in DUI manslaughter cases can include:
- The defendant was not driving the motor vehicle or did not have actual physical control of the motor vehicle.
- The defendant’s actions were not the cause of the victim’s death.
- There was no probable cause for a blood test in the case.
- The blood test was not properly performed.
- The blood sample was compromised or contaminated.
- Field sobriety tests performed on the scene were unreliable.
- Miranda warnings were not provided to the defendant.
- The state has not proved the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your attorney will work with you to understand which defenses might be available in your case and how those defenses should be presented in court.
Contact Musca Law Today to Speak to a Skilled Sarasota DUI Manslaughter Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida, do not delay in hiring skilled representation to help you protect your rights. You can schedule a free consultation with a dedicated DUI manslaughter defense attorney at Musca Law by calling (888) 484-5057 today.