DUI Manslaughter Attorneys in Sarasota, Florida (FL)
Cases involving driving under the influence have serious consequences in Sarasota and around the state of Florida, especially when the vehicle accident at issue involved the death of another person. The charges following a DUI accident involving death will be DUI manslaughter, which carries the weight of a second-degree felony in the state of Florida.
Musca Law: Experienced DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers Serving Sarasota
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter in Sarasota, you need to immediately seek the legal guidance of a skilled Florida lawyer, like those at Musca Law. DUI manslaughter cases usually involve complex areas of law and require significant experience to defend. With Musca Law, you will have the skilled representation and strong legal team you need to fight the charges against you.
Our attorneys will make sure that your legal rights are protected and will help you build the best possible defense. We provide free and confidential consultations, and our office is available to schedule yours when you call us today at (888) 484-5057.
Sarasota DUI Manslaughter Penalties
Most DUI manslaughter cases in Sarasota are charged as felonies in the second degree. A conviction for DUI manslaughter can result in severe penalties, including a prison term of up to 15 years. Additional consequences that can follow a DUI manslaughter conviction might include the following:
- Imposition of a fine up to $10,000
- Permanent revocation of driver’s license
- Installation in vehicle of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- Impoundment of the vehicle involved in the accident
- Order to attend counseling for alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Order to attend classes or programs for substance abuse
- Order to perform community service
- Probation following completion of sentence
Aside from the legal penalties associated with DUI manslaughter, a conviction for this crime can have lasting effects in the lives of people and their families. Lost jobs and housing, social stigma, and emotional trauma can plague people after the incident and long after a sentence has been served. A skilled defense lawyer can help you mitigate the harm from the charges and avoid the repercussions associated with a conviction.
Florida’s Blood Test Requirement in DUI Manslaughter Cases
Florida state law, as described in Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a), requires a blood test to be performed on all persons believed to have caused the death of or serious bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The test will be used for purposes of determining the level of drugs and/or alcohol in the person’s body at the time of the accident. The law states that the law enforcement officer responding to the incident “shall” require the suspected DUI driver to submit to the test, and reasonable force can be used if necessary to require him or her to submit to the test.
Certain factors have to be in place in order for the blood test to be mandatory. Under § 316.1933(1)(a), these include:
- The person suspected of being under the influence was driving a vehicle or was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle;
- The responding officer has probable cause to believe the person is under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance; and
- The person’s vehicle caused serious bodily injury to or the death of another human being.
Because of the wording of this statute, if the factors are met, not even the officer has an option as to the blood test — It must be administered. It is important to know that the test can only be performed by a duly licensed or authorized individual, including a doctor, a paramedic, a nurse, a lab director, or a technician. While the law enforcement officer will request and facilitate the test, the officer cannot be the one who draws the blood or tests the blood. In addition, blood tests performed for medical purposes and not requested by an officer can be admissible as evidence in a DUI manslaughter case.
Subpoenas for Medical Records and Blood Tests in Sarasota DUI Manslaughter Cases
The prosecutors in a DUI manslaughter case in Sarasota will usually request copies of the accused’s medical records following the accident, including the results of any blood tests performed on the accused. If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter, you might receive a medical authorization (HIPAA) that gives the hospital permission to release your records to the requesting individual or entity. The prosecution wants these records to establish that you were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.
You should understand that while the prosecution will be entitled to certain evidence, your medical privacy needs to be appropriately protected. State and federal laws are in place to protect you from the release of confidential medical information, and your attorney can help you understand what you do and do not have to release.
Preserving Evidence in a Sarasota DUI Manslaughter Case
Despite the massive consequences of a conviction, the prosecution has a lower hurdle to overcome in proving these cases compared to homicide cases. The prosecution does not have to prove that the accused acted with intent or meant to cause the vehicle accident. Rather, the prosecution needs to prove that the accused was driving the vehicle, the vehicle caused the fatal accident, and the accused was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In proving these elements, the prosecutors will conduct a complete investigation and build a case that includes witness testimony. To have a chance of winning, you have to build your own case that includes an independent investigation, consultation with experts, and analysis of the facts. Your Sarasota criminal defense attorney will exploit the weaknesses in the state’s case and refute the state’s evidence.
Musca Law’s lawyers provide an individualized and comprehensive defense to every client. We will proactively investigate your case and begin motions practice to eliminate illegally obtained, irrelevant, and prejudicial evidence. We work to place our clients inside of a level playing field with the best chances for a favorable outcome.
Some of the earliest steps we will take on behalf of our clients include the following:
- Providing legal guidance and advocacy during police interviews/interrogations
- Ordering copies of the medical records for the person who died in the accident
- Obtaining copies of the police report from the accident
- Gathering or taking photos of the vehicles involved in the accident
- Obtaining photos from the accident scene
- Locating witnesses to the accident and obtaining their statements
- Reviewing the above evidence against the charges filed by the state
The above is not an exhaustive list but represents a picture of the processes we go through for our clients after they have hired our firm. Contact us today to find out how we can help you in your case in Sarasota.
Driver’s License Revocation for a DUI Manslaughter Conviction in Sarasota
A person convicted of DUI manslaughter in Sarasota will likely have his or her driver’s license revoked for a period of time. It is possible to restore driving privileges after five years if the person had no prior convictions for driving under the influence.
In some cases, a person might be able to apply for renewed driving privileges due to hardship. The person must request a hearing to decide whether a hardship license should be granted, and the person will have to meet certain conditions for renewed privileges. These conditions include:
- Completion of DUI school and supervision under the DUI program for the full period of revocation;
- No other arrests for drug-related offenses within the five years leading up to the hearing;
- No incidents of driving with a revoked license during the five years leading up to the hearing;
- Use of an ignition interlock device on vehicle for two years; and
- No consumption of drugs or alcohol during the five years leading up to the hearing.
It is typically not easy to receive a license reinstatement or hardship license, and your defense attorney will advise you about whether this is a possibility in your case. There is also a strict timeframe for requesting the hearing, which your lawyer will explain to you and ensure that you meet, if the time has not already passed. Contact Musca Law today to learn more about license reinstatement following an arrest or conviction for DUI manslaughter in Sarasota.
Defenses for a Sarasota DUI Manslaughter Case
In a Sarasota DUI manslaughter case, your attorney will raise certain defenses, which will depend on the facts of your case. Some of the more common defenses presented in these types of cases include:
- Disputing the accused’s blood alcohol level at the time of the accident.
- Arguing against the reliability of results from a breath test or field sobriety test administered in the case or the methods used for those tests.
- Disputing whether the accused was driving the vehicle or was in actual physical control of the vehicle.
- Arguing that the vehicle accident was not the cause of death or that another cause existed for the death that followed the accident.
- Uncovering that the accused was not given a Miranda warning before making a statement.
- Arguing that the prosecution has not met its burden of proof.
One of these might be used in your case, or your lawyer might use different defense strategies. Your defense will be influenced by (among other things) the circumstances surrounding the accident, the events that occurred before and after the accident, and the tactics used by investigators and prosecutors in your case. After you hire your attorney, you will work to build the defense that best suits your case.
Felony Charges in Florida for DUI Accidents
DUI manslaughter is usually considered a second-degree felony in Florida. Many other DUI cases will involve misdemeanor charges, but the circumstances surrounding each accident will determine what level of charges the state pursues. Circumstances that usually result in felony charges in DUI cases under Florida law include:
- A DUI accident that causes the death of another person, including the death of a viable fetus
- A DUI accident that causes serious bodily harm to another person
- A DUI accident involving injuries or death in which the driver flees the scene
- Multiple DUI convictions within a 10-year period of time
- Four DUI convictions within someone’s lifetime
The individual facts of your case can change the nature of the charges against you, as well as the defenses available to you. During your case consultation with a Musca Law attorney, you can go over the details of the accident, your background, and whether you have any other DUI charges or convictions in the past.
DUI Accident Leading to Serious Bodily Harm
Florida Statute § 316.193 indicates that a person will be charged with a felony in the third degree if he or she is driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident that results in serious bodily harm to another person. The penalty for a third-degree felony in Florida can include a prison term of up to five years, as well as a fine of up to $5,000. Someone convicted of a DUI following an accident that causes serious bodily harm can also lose his or her driver’s license for a period of three years.
Third DUI Within a Ten-Year Period in Florida
According to Florida Statute § 316.193, someone can be charged with a third-degree felony if he or she has been convicted of two other DUIs, and one of those convictions is within the same 10-year period as the current charges. The penalties for the third conviction can include:
- A prison term of up to five years and no less than 30 days;
- Imposition of a fine up to $5,000;
- Impoundment of the vehicle involved in the accident;
- Revocation of the person’s driver’s license for 10 years;
- Order for installation of an ignition interlock device on the accused’s vehicle to remain for two years after the reinstatement of the person’s driver’s license.
These are harsh penalties that demand serious attention. It can also be difficult to understand whether this section of Florida law applies to your case. Your attorney will analyze the circumstances surrounding your charges and move to dismiss them if they do not align with your criminal history.
Fourth DUI Within a Lifetime in Florida
Under Florida law, a person who has three prior DUI convictions within his or her lifetime will face felony charges if accused of a fourth DUI. The penalties for the fourth conviction will be the same as those for the third conviction, except the person will likely face a permanent revocation of his or her driver’s license after the fourth conviction. It is important to make sure that the charges against you are consistent with the facts and vital that you fight the charges to avoid the stricter penalties of a third-degree felony.
DUI Charges Upon Fleeing the Scene in Sarasota
Felony charges may follow a DUI accident in Sarasota and across Florida if the driver leaves the scene of the accident, and someone was injured in the accident. The nature of the charges will depend on the severity of the injuries that resulted from the accident.
If a DUI-related accident results in minor injuries and the driver flees the scene, that driver could be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, the person could face a prison sentence of up to five years and could have a fine imposed of up to $5,000.
If a DUI-related accident results in serious bodily injury to someone and the driver flees the scene, the driver could be charged with a second-degree felony. A conviction in this case could result in a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If a DUI-related accident results in the death of another person and the driver flees the scene, the driver could be charged with a first-degree felony. If convicted, the person could see a prison term of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Contact Musca Law Today to Speak to a Skilled Sarasota County DUI Manslaughter Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter or any other DUI-related charges in Sarasota 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 works best for you. You can reach us today by calling (888) 484-5057.