DUI Manslaughter in Miami, Florida (FL)
In Florida, DUI cases, especially those involving death (known as DUI manslaughter), are prosecuted heavily and may result in the imposition of serious repercussions such as jail time, monetary fines, the loss of one’s license, and more. Under Florida Law, a person will be charged with a second-degree felony if that driver commits the offense of DUI manslaughter. In essence, a person can face DUI manslaughter charges if he or she operates a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol and in doing so, kills a human being, including a viable fetus known as a “quick child” pursuant to Section 782.071 of Florida Statutory law.
Highly Experienced Florida DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers in Miami-Dade County
If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Miami, FL, seek the services of an experienced Florida DUI defense attorney at Musca Law immediately. Your attorney will protect your interests and legal rights at each stage of your case as well as develop the strongest and most effective defense possible.
It is important to realize that DUI manslaughter charges are typically challenging and complex. Working with a Miami criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable of the laws and the ins and outs of the court system is vital. If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter in Miami, FL, call Musca Law anytime, 24/7 toll-free at (888) 484-5057. Our attorneys are available now to advise you of your legal rights and options.
Subpoenas Requesting the Accused Medical Records and BAC
When a person is charged with DUI manslaughter, the State can submit a request for his or her medical records. Specifically, the accused may receive a HIPAA letter requesting information regarding his or her Blood Alcohol Content or notice indicating that the State is subpoenaing his or her medical records.
Notwithstanding, it is important for you to understand that medical records are protected and confidential. When the government is seeking these records, they face certain hurdles and must afford the accused his or her due process rights throughout the evidentiary hearing.
Penalties Associated with DUI Manslaughter Cases
It is typically a felony in the second-degree when a person faces the charge of DUI manslaughter in Florida. Pursuant to Florida State law, this offense is categorized under Level 8. If a person is convicted of DUI manslaughter as a second-degree felony, he or she could face a potential prison sentence of up to fifteen years. There are additional repercussions associated with a conviction for DUI manslaughter, including
- the installation of an ignition interlock device in one’s vehicle
- a total fine of at most $10,000;
- a lengthy period of probation;
- impoundment of an accused’s automobile;
- community service;
- the permanent loss of one’s driver’s license
- DUI programs or school; and
- Counseling for abuse of drugs or alcohol.
The Requirement of a Blood Test in Miami DUI Cases
Pursuant to Section 316.1933(1)(a) of Florida statutory law, individuals who are accused of driving under the influence involving serious bodily harm or death must have their blood drawn. In so doing, police must use reasonable means to obtain the individual’s blood sample pursuant to reasonable force.
Police may require the accused to submit to a blood test if they are under the suspicion that:
- The individual had physical control over the vehicle or drove the vehicle;
- The individual was impaired by drugs or alcohol when the crash occurred; and
- The automobile led to serious bodily harm or death to another individual.
The Preservation of Evidence for Miami Vehicular Homicide Charges
The prosecution need not prove that the accused had the intention of causing harm to another person. It must only be established that the accused operated his or her automobile in a way that resulted in the serious bodily harm of or the death of another person.
Musca Law’s skilled Miami criminal defense attorneys work with highly seasoned experts who provide critical support to the defense. Since law enforcement in Florida will conduct an investigation of their own to support a DUI manslaughter charge, it is important to have defense experts who can highlight the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case.
The attorneys at Musca law approach each DUI manslaughter proactively and with diligence by filing a number of different motions in a person’s case, including a motion to suppress certain evidence, a motion to dismiss, and a motion in limine for the purpose of excluding evidence that would be prejudicial to the defendant at trial. In essence, our attorneys pursue all necessary steps to attack the prosecution’s case as well as fight hard for the legal rights and interests of our clients during each stage of the criminal proceeding. These steps include, without limitation:
- Being there when the police interrogate the defendant;
- Procurement of the injured or killed person’s medical records;
- Obtaining and gathering photographic evidence of damage to the involved vehicles;
- Obtaining witness statements; and
- Taking photographic evidence of the site of the crash, including any tracks left by tires on the roadway.
Permanent Revocation & Reinstatement of a Person’s Driver's License for Hardship
In Florida, a person may lose their driving privileges because of a DUI manslaughter conviction. However, if an individual faces conviction for DUI Manslaughter and that person has no previous DUI Convictions, then he or she could be able to restore his or her driving privileges after five years. Moreover, offenders may also have their driver’s licenses reinstated pursuant to a showing of hardship, which can be pursued at a hearing if the below conditions have been met:
- The person has no arrests for drug-related crimes for a minimum of five years prior reinstatement hearing;
- The person has not operated any vehicle while his or her license was suspended for at least five years prior to the reinstatement hearing;
- The driver used an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle for at least two years;
- The driver did not consume any drugs or alcohol for at least five years before the hearing; and
- The driver completed DUI school and is being supervised under the DUI program for the remainder of the revocation period. By failing to appear for mandatory substance abuse treatment, a person will lose his or her hardship license immediately.
Felony Charges for DUIs
The majority of DUI cases in Miami will be tried as misdemeanors, but prosecutors may seek felony charges pursuant to the following:
- DUI with fleeing the scene of an accident involving minor injuries;
- DUI that causes serious bodily harm;
- Three DUIs within five years of any previous DUI conviction;
- A fourth DUI over the course of one’s lifetime;
- DUI with leaving the scene of an incident that caused serious bodily harm; or
- DUI manslaughter; or
- DUI with leaving the scene of an accident, which resulted in a fatality.
Felony Charges for a Third DUI in a Ten-Year Period
A person convicted of a third DUI during the same ten-year period as another DUI conviction will be considered a third-degree felony, and includes the following consequences:
- A maximum of a 5-year prison sentence;
- The impoundment of one’s vehicle for 90 days;
- Fines anywhere from $2,000 and to a maximum of $5,000;
- Imprisonment of at least 30 days;
- Required use of an ignition interlock system for the two years following the reinstatement of the person’s license; and
- A 10-year minimum revocation of his or her driver’s license. In some cases, he or she could qualify for reinstatement due to hardship. This would be available after two years.
Four DUIs within a Person’s Lifetime
A person who is convicted of four or more DUIs will face felony charges in the third-degree, which are punishable by:
- The permanent revocation of one’s driving privileges with the possibility of reinstatement with a showing of hardship after five years;
- A maximum prison term of 5 years and
- A fine of anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.
DUI causing Serious Bodily Harm
Section 316.193(3) of Florida’s Statutes provides that a person can be charged with a third-degree felony if they cause serious bodily harm to another individual while driving under the impairment of drugs or alcohol. This carries with it a prison sentence of 5 years and a monetary fine of $5,000. The person could lose his or her license for three years following a conviction.
Statutes 316.193(1) and section (3)(c)(3) define DUI Manslaughter under Florida law as a second-degree felony with the following consequences:
- a minimum jail term totaling 124.5 months (which is over ten years);
- a maximum jail term of fifteen years;
- monetary penalties of $10,000; and
- A permanent loss of the person’s driver’s license.
Felony DUI Charges when the Accused Fled the Scene after a Crash will Depend on the Severity of Harm to the Victims
When a person flees the scene following an accident that resulted in injuries that are not considered serious, serious injuries, or the death of another individual, the related consequences will depend on the details of one’s case.
If an intoxicated driver who flees the scene of an accident causes non-serious bodily injuries, prosecutors can charge the accused with a third-degree felony. These charges are associated with a jail term of at most five years and a monetary penalty of at most $5,000.
When an intoxicated driver causes serious bodily harm in a crash and flees the scene of an accident, the prosecutor can charge the DUI as a second-degree felony offense. These charges carry a maximum prison sentence of five years plus monetary fines of $10,000.
If an intoxicated driver’s actions lead to another person dying and the intoxicated driver then flees the scene of the accident, the DUI offense can be considered a second-degree felony. In this situation, the crime is punishable by at most 30 years imprisonment and fines totaling $10,000.
Defending against Felony DUI Charges in Florida
There are certain defenses that can be raised in one’s DUI felony case. Some common defenses are:
- Blood tests. A police officer must obtain a warrant or consent from an accused before drawing his or her blood. If they do not, this defense may be raised.
- Accident report privilege. A person would face immunity if they made a statement within the course of law enforcement’s investigation of their case.
- Field sobriety tests. An officer may conduct field sobriety tests following an accident, which may skew the results due to the shock or injuries that the accused sustained. In this case, a Florida DUI manslaughter defense attorney may raise this defense.
- Breathalyzer test. The accused might raise this defense if a breathalyzer test was given after airbags deployed in the accused's vehicle. Airbag deployment can cause a higher BAC result, leading to inaccurate results.
- Wheel witness. In cases where the accused exits his or her car after an accident, but before the arrival of police on the scene, the prosecution may struggle to prove that he or she was the person driving, especially if the accused denies having been operating the vehicle. Under this set of circumstances, this defense can be raised.
- Intervening cause. When another cause may have been the reason for the death of the victim, then the defense attorney may illustrate that the intervening cause, and not the defendant, is responsible for the death or the person or unborn child.
- BAC level. If an accused’s BAC did not exceed the legal driving limit (0.08% alcohol per volume) at the time of the accident, this defense might be raised.
- Physical control. A person can challenge the prosecutor’s case by asserting that he or she was not physically in control of one’s vehicle at the time of the arrest.
- Chemical test. If a chemical test was not properly administrated, that evidence should be excluded from court.
- Miranda warnings. Statements you make without being given Miranda warnings can be excluded, and your attorney may raise this defense to prevent those statements from being used against you.
- Causation. The prosecution is not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused driver’s actions actually caused the other person’s death.
FAQs for DUI Manslaughter Charges
When new clients contact us, they often have many questions regarding their DUI charges. Below are some of the questions people often ask our attorneys:
Can a DUI become a felony, or is it always a misdemeanor?
A DUI can become a felony of the third-degree if that a person faces a third DUI conviction within the same ten-year time period as a prior DUI conviction.
A DUI can be charged as a third-degree felony when an individual is convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUIs, irrespective of when the driver received the prior DUI conviction.
Prosecutors can charge a person with a felony in either the first degree or second if the impaired driver caused injuries or death, or if he or she caused injuries or death and left the scene of the crash.
What are the differences between DUI charges for accidents involving damage to property, non-serious injuries, serious injuries, or fatalities?
Damage to property or the infliction of non-serious injuries that arise out of an accident with an impaired driver is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
Serious bodily harm that results from an accident with a driver who is under the influence is charged as a felony of the third-degree.
The killing of any human being, including an unborn quick child, resulting from a DUI-related accident, can be punishable as a second-degree felony. Failing to render aid to a victim who dies or if the driver flees the scene of the accident can be punishable as a first-degree felony, which carries with it the most severe consequences.
Is it possible to serve my time in prison in a residential treatment facility for drug and/or alcoholism addiction?
Yes. In some circumstances, and in the court’s discretion, an individual can serve his or her entire sentence, or at least a part of the imprisonment sentence in a live-in a facility where he or she will be treated for alcoholism drug addiction. The period spent in a recovery program will be credited towards the total prison term.
If I get arrested driving under the influence, how soon can I be released?
A driver who gets arrested for a DUI will not be free from police custody until (i) the person recovers from the influence of drugs or alcohol, (ii) the individual’s BAC under 0.05%, or (iii) until the person has been in police custody for a minimum of 8 hours.
Don’t Take a Chance with Your Liberty; Contact Musca Law’s Seasoned Florida DUI Defense Attorneys Today!
Don’t wait to seek qualified counsel to assist you in your DUI manslaughter case. Contact Musca Law to speak to a Miami criminal law attorney about your DUI charges. Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys are skilled, experienced, tenacious, and relentless when it comes to defending our clients. We provide potential clients with a confidential evaluation of their cases at no cost. To learn more about how Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.