DUI Manslaughter Lawyers in Fort Walton, Florida (FL)
Driving under the influence carries with it serious penalties, especially when an accident occurs that results in the death of another person. In this case, the individual will face a DUI manslaughter charge, which is typically punishable as a second-degree felony in Florida.
Musca Law: Seasoned DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorneys Serving Okaloosa County
If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Fort Walton, you need to immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned DUI manslaughter defense attorney at Musca Law. DUI manslaughter cases are often complex and require significant skills and experience to defend. With Musca Law, you will have the skilled legal representation you need to fight the charges that are being sought against you.
Our skilled team of legal advocates fight hard for the rights of our clients and help them to develop the strongest and most effective defense strategy possible. We provide free and completely confidential case consultations, and our office is available to schedule yours when you call us today at (888) 484-5057.
Fort Walton DUI Manslaughter Penalties
The majority of DUI manslaughter cases in Fort Walton are charged as second-degree felonies. A DUI manslaughter conviction can result in the imposition of serious consequences, including a term of imprisonment for up to fifteen years. Additional penalties following a DUI manslaughter conviction may include:
- A monetary fine of up to $10,000;
- Installation in one’s vehicle of an ignition interlock device (IID);
- The permanent loss of one’s driving privileges;
- The impoundment of the vehicle involved in the DUI-related accident;
- Order to undergo alcohol and/or drug abuse counseling/treatment;
- Order to attend substance abuse classes and/or programs;
- Community service; and
- An extended period of probation following imprisonment.
In addition to the legal repercussions associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction, an individual may face additional consequences such as lost housing and job opportunities, social stigma, and emotional trauma that can plague a person for many years after his or her sentence has been served. A seasoned Florida DUI manslaughter defense attorney can help you to mitigate the damage associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction and avoid the serious repercussions associated therewith.
Florida’s Blood Test Requirement in DUI Manslaughter Cases
Under Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a), a blood test must be performed on all individuals who are accused of causing the death or serious bodily injury to another individual while driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The blood test will be used to determine the amount of drugs and/or alcohol in the person’s body when the accident occurred. The law provides that the police officer “shall” require the DUI suspect to submit to the blood test, and that he or she can use reasonable force if need be to require the suspect to submit to the test.
In order for a blood test to be mandatory, certain factors must be present, as provided under Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a), which are:
- The individual accused of being impaired while operating a vehicle was in “actual physical control” of his or her vehicle;
- The arresting officer has probable cause to believe that the person is impaired by alcohol, a controlled substance, or a chemical substance; and
- The person’s vehicle caused serious bodily injury to or the death of another human being.
Given the statutory language, if the above factors are satisfied, there is no option as to the blood test – it must be administered. It is important to realize that only an authorized individual such as a doctor, nurse, technician or lab director can draw a person’s blood. While police can request and facilitate the administration of the test, the officer cannot draw or test the blood sample.
Subpoenas for Medical Records and Blood Tests in Fort Walton DUI Manslaughter Cases
Prosecutors in a Fort Walton DUI manslaughter case will often seek to obtain copies of an accused’s medical records after an accident, including the results of any blood tests that were performed. If you are charged with DUI manslaughter, you may receive a HIPAA medical authorization form that will give the hospital permission to release your medical records to the entity or person seeking them. The prosecution specifically wants these records to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was at or above the legal limit when your accident occurred.
It is important to realize that although the prosecution is entitled to the receipt of certain evidence, your privacy must nonetheless be protected. There are both federal and state laws that protect against the release of confidential medical information, and your lawyer can assist you in understanding what you are required and not required to release following your DUI-related accident.
The Preservation of Evidence in a Fort Walton DUI Manslaughter Case
Notwithstanding the serious repercussions associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction, the prosecution has a lesser hurdle to overcome in establishing that a person is guilty in this type of case rather than in a regular homicide. Specifically, the prosecution does not need to show that the individual accused of DUI manslaughter intended to cause harm to another person. Alternatively, the prosecution only needs to establish that the accused was driving the vehicle that caused the fatal accident, and at that time, he or she was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
In attempting to prove these elements, the prosecutor will conduct a thorough investigation and build a case that includes the testimony of witnesses. To have a chance at prevailing, you will have to build your own case and conduct an independent investigation, consult with expert witnesses, and analyze the facts. Your seasoned Fort Walton criminal defense attorney will work tirelessly to help you highlight the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case and refute the evidence that they intend to use against you.
At Musca Law, our skilled attorneys offer a uniquely tailored and comprehensive defense strategy in every case. We will proactively investigate your case and prepare motions to eliminate prejudicial, irrelevant, and illegally obtained evidence. We work to place our clients inside of a level playing field with the best chances of obtaining a favorable outcome, whether that means the dismissal of your case or the reduction of the charges being sought against you.
From the inception of your case, will pursue the following steps on behalf of our clients:
- Provide legal guidance and advocacy during police interrogations/interviews;
- Order copies of the medical records for the individual who perished in the accident;
- Obtain copies of the police report filed on the accident;
- Gather evidence including taking photos of the automobiles involved in the crash;
- Take/obtain photos of the scene of the crash;
- Locate accident witnesses and obtain their statements; and
- Review all of the evidence obtained in the case against the charges filed by the prosecution.
While the above is not an exhaustive list of the steps we take on your behalf, they represent a glimpse of the processes that we follow on your behalf should we choose to pursue your case. Contact Musca Law today at 1 (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Driver’s License Revocation for a DUI Manslaughter Conviction in Fort Walton
If an individual is convicted of DUI manslaughter in Fort Walton, he or she may lose his or her driving privileges for an extended period of time. However, it is important to understand that a person can have their driving privileges restored after a five-year period should the individual be facing his or her first DUI manslaughter conviction.
In certain circumstances, an individual may be able to seek a renewal of his or her driving privileges due to a showing of hardship. The person seeking the hardship reinstatement must request a hearing to determine whether a hardship license should be granted, and he or she will be required to meet certain conditions for a renewal, which include:
- Supervision under a DI program during the period of revocation and the completion of DUI school;
- A showing that there have been no incidents of driving with a revoked license for the period leading up to the hardship hearing;
- No additional arrests for drug-related offenses within the five years leading up to the hardship hearing;
- The use of an ignition interlock device on one’s vehicle for at least two years; and
- No consumption of drugs or alcohol during the five years leading up to the hardship hearing.
It is important to understand that seeking a hardship license is an uphill battle, and your attorney is in the best position to advise whether this is a worthwhile step to take in your case. There are also strict deadlines associated with requesting a hardship hearing, which your attorney will discuss with you to ensure that the time has not already passed.
Contact Musca Law today at 1 (888) 484-5057 to learn more about license reinstatement following an arrest or conviction for DUI manslaughter in Fort Walton.
Defenses for a Fort Walton DUI Manslaughter Case
Your attorney will raise certain defenses in your Fort Walton DUI manslaughter case. Some of the most common defenses presented in DUI manslaughter cases include
- Challenging the accused’s blood alcohol reading at the time of the crash;
- Disputing the reliability of the field sobriety and/or breath test that was administered following your accident;
- Disputing whether the accused was driving the vehicle or in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the crash;
- Asserting that the crash did not cause the death to the other person;
- Determining that the accused was not read his or her Miranda warnings before he or she made a statement; and
- Asserting that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof necessary to sustain a conviction for DUI manslaughter.
One or several of these defenses may apply to your case, or your attorney may choose to employ different defense tactics. The nature of the defense strategies that your attorney seeks to pursue in your case depend upon, among other things, the tactics used by the prosecution and investigators in your case, the events that happened right before and following your accident, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash. After you hire your attorney, he or she will work to build the defense that best fits the facts of your case.
Felony Charges in Florida for DUI Accidents
DUI manslaughter is typically charged as a second-degree felony in Florida. Several other DUI cases will only involve misdemeanor charges however, the facts of each case will determine what types of charges the prosecution will pursue.
There are certain circumstances that result in felony charges in Florida, which include:
- A DUI-related crash that caused the death of another individual, including the death of a viable fetus;
- A DUI-related crash that resulted in serious bodily injury inflicted upon another individual;
- A DUI-related crash that involved injuries and death where the driver feels the scene;
- Numerous DUI convictions with a ten-year time period; or
- Four DUI convictions within an individual’s lifetime.
The unique set of facts and circumstances in your case affects the nature of the charges that the prosecution will seek against you, as well as the defenses that may be available in your case. When you meet with a DUI manslaughter defense attorney at Musca Law, he or she will review the details of your accident, your specific background, as well as whether you have any previous DUI charges or convictions in the past.
DUI Accident Leading to Serious Bodily Harm
Under Florida Statute § 316.193, an individual will be charged with a third-degree felony if he or she was operating an automobile under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury to another individual. The penalty for a third-degree felony in Florida can result in the imposition of a prison term for up to five years as well as a monetary fine of up to $5,000. The offender may also lose his or her driving privileges for a time period of at least three years.
Third DUI Within a Ten-Year Period in Florida
Under Statute § 316.193, an individual charged with a third DUI within a ten-year period can be charged with a third-degree felony, which may include the following repercussions:
- Imposition of a fine up to $5,000;
- A prison term of up to five years and no less than 30 days;
- Revocation of the person’s driver’s license for 10 years;
- Impoundment of the vehicle involved in the accident;
- Order for installation of an ignition interlock device on the accused’s vehicle to remain for two years after the individual’s license has been reinstated.
Fourth DUI Within a Lifetime in Florida
In Florida, a person who has been convicted of three prior DUI convictions within his or her lifetime will face the penalties associated with a third conviction, except that the individual will likely face the permanent revocation of his or her driving privileges.
This is why it is vital to ensure that the charges sought against you by the prosecution are consistent with the facts of your case. Your attorney will evaluate your case to determine your options in this regard.
DUI Charges Upon Fleeing the Scene in Fort Walton
Felony charges may be sought if the driver flees the scene of the accident, and someone sustained injuries in the crash. The nature of the charges depend upon the level of severity of the injuries stemming from the crash.
If a DUI-related crash causes minor injuries and the driver leaves the scene, the driver could face third-degree felony charges, which carries with it a penalty of up to five years in prison and a monetary fine of up to $5,000.
If a DUI-related crash results in serious bodily injuries sustained by another individual and the driver leaves the scene, he or she could face a second-degree felony charge, which carries with it a prison sentence of up to five years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
A person will face a first-degree felony charge if he or she causes a DUI-related accident that resulted in the death of another and he or she fled the scene. This carries with it a maximum prison term of 30 years and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
Contact Musca Law Today to Speak to a Skilled Fort Walton DUI Manslaughter Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter or any other DUI-related charges in Fort Walton, or around Florida, contact Musca Law today. You will have the opportunity to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney during a completely free case consultation. The lawyers at Musca law have a combined 150 years of experience serving our clients in criminal defense matters, including DUI manslaughter cases, and we are committed to protecting the rights of accused persons. We understand the seriousness of DUI charges and how they affect the lives of families, and we work to achieve the best outcomes for our clients.
We are available for weekend and evening appointments and will schedule your free consultation during a time that is most convenient for you. You can reach us today by calling (888) 484-5057.