DUI Manslaughter in West Palm Beach, Florida (FL)
In Florida, DUI cases, especially that involve the death of another (known as DUI manslaughter), are heavily prosecuted and can result in the imposition of serious consequences, including prison time, monetary fines, and the loss of one’s driving privileges, among others. Under Florida law, an individual will face a second-degree felony charge if he or she commits the offense of DUI manslaughter. Specifically, an individual can be charged with DUI manslaughter if he or she drives a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs and in so doing, causes the death of another, including a viable fetus known as a “quick child” pursuant to Section 782.071 of Florida Statutory law.
Seasoned Florida DUI Manslaughter Defense Lawyers in Palm Beach County
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter in West Palm Beach, Florida, it is critical that you immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Florida DUI defense attorney at Musca Law. Your lawyer will fight to protect your legal rights and interests at each stage of your case as well as develop the strongest and most effective defense strategy possible. Call the skilled Florida DUI manslaughter defense attorneys at 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 an individual faces a DUI manslaughter charge, the state can seek to obtain his or her medical records, including his or her blood alcohol content. Specifically, a person accused of DUI manslaughter may receive a HIPAA letter requesting this information or a subpoena for medical records. When the government is seeking one’s medical documentation, they face certain hurdles and must afford the accused his or her due process rights throughout the evidentiary hearing.
The Penalties Associated with DUI Manslaughter Cases
As noted above, DUI manslaughter is typically charged in Florida as a second-degree felony. This offense is also categorized as a Level 8 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. If a person is convicted of DUI manslaughter, he or she could be imprisoned for up to fifteen years and face additional consequences, including:
- a monetary fine of $10,000;
- the installation of an ignition interlock device in one’s vehicle
- community service;
- the permanent loss of one’s driver’s license;
- impoundment of an accused’s automobile;
- DUI programs or school; and
- Alcohol or drug abuse counseling/treatment.
The Requirement of a Blood Test in West Palm Beach DUI Cases
Under Section 316.1933(1)(a) of Florida statutory law, those who cause serious bodily injury or death after driving under the influence must have a blood sample taken by law enforcement. Police can only use reasonable force in obtaining an accused’s blood sample. Law enforcement will require the accused to submit to a blood test if:
- The individual had physical control over his or her vehicle or drove his or her vehicle;
- The individual was impaired by alcohol or drugs when the crash occurred; and
- The automobile led to serious bodily harm or death to another individual.
The Preservation of Evidence for West Palm Beach Vehicular Homicide Charges
In DUI manslaughter cases, the prosecution does not have to establish that the accused had the intention of causing harm to another individual. Specifically, they only need to prove that the accused, while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, operated his or her vehicle in a manner that resulted in the death of another individual.
At Musca Law, our seasoned West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers work with highly skilled experts who provide critical support in helping them to develop the strongest defense possible. Since law enforcement conducts their own investigation to support a DUI manslaughter charge, it is vital to have defense experts available to attack the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case.
The lawyers at Musca Law approach DUI manslaughter charges both diligently and proactively by filing a number of different motions in support of one’s case, including a motion to suppress certain evidence, a motion to dismiss, and a motion in limine, which is for the purpose of excluding evidence that is prejudicial to the defendant’s case.
Our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys leave no stone unturned when representing the rights and interests of their clients at each stage of the criminal proceeding. Specifically, we pursue the following steps in each DUI manslaughter case:
- Be present when the police interrogate the defendant;
- Procure the injured or killed person’s medical records;
- Obtain and gather photographic evidence of damage to the involved vehicles;
- Obtain witness statements; and
- Take 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
A person may lose their driving privileges following a DUI manslaughter conviction in Florida. If the individual has never had a previous DUI manslaughter conviction, then he or she may be able to have his or her driving privileges restored after five years. Offenders may also be able to have their driver’s licenses reinstated upon a showing of hardship, which can be pursued at a hearing of the conditions below have been satisfied:
- The individual has not been arrested for a drug-related crime for a minimum of five years prior to the hearing for reinstatement;
- The individual has not driven a vehicle with a suspended license for at least five years prior to the hearing for reinstatement
- The individual has had an ignition interlock device in his or her automobile for a minimum of two years.
- The individual has not consumed any alcohol or drugs for at last five years prior to the hearing for reinstatement; and
- The individual successfully completed DUI school and is currently under the supervision of the DUI program for the remainder of the period of revocation. If a person does not appear for mandatory substance abuse period after a hardship license has been issued, he or she may immediately lose his or her driving privileges.
Felony Charges for DUIs
Most DUI cases in West Palm Beach are charged as misdemeanors however, the prosecution may file felony charges against an accused pursuant to the following:
- DUI manslaughter;
- DUI that causes serious bodily harm;
- DUI with fleeing the scene of an accident involving non-serious injuries;
- 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 with leaving the scene of an accident that involved 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:
- Up to five years in jail;
- Vehicle impoundment for 90 days;
- Monetary fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000;
- A minimum imprisonment term of at least 30 days;
- Required use of an ignition interlock system for the two years after license reinstatement; and
- Ten year revocation of his or her driver’s license. In some instances, he or she could qualify for reinstatement due to a showing of hardship two years after losing his or her driving privileges.
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:
- A maximum prison term of five years;
- Permanent revocation of his or her driver’s license with the potential or reinstatement after a showing of hardship after five years;
- Monetary fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
DUI Resulting in Serious Bodily Harm
Under Section 316.193(3) of Florida’s Statutes, a person can face third-degree felony charges if he or she causes serious bodily harm to another individual as a result of driving under the influence. This carries with it a maximum prison sentence of five years and a monetary penalty of $5,000. The offender may also lose his or her driving privileges for at least three years.
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 maximum jail term of fifteen years;
- Permanent revocation of one’s driver’s license;
- A minimum prison term of 124.5 months; and
- Monetary penalties of $10,000.
Felony DUI Charges and Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
When an impaired person flees the scene of an accident that resulted in non-serious injuries, the prosecution can seek to charge the individual with a third-degree felony. A Third-degree felony carries with it a maximum jail term of five years and a monetary fine of up to $5,000.
Should the impaired person flee the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily harm, the individual can be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries with it a maximum prison term of five years plus monetary fines of up to $10,000.
If an impaired driver flees the scene of an accident resulting in the death of another, the DUI offense can be charged as a first-degree felony, which carries with it a maximum jail term of 30 years and monetary fines of up to $10,000.
Defending against Felony DUI Charges in Florida
There are several defenses that one can raise in his or her DUI case, which include:
- Blood tests. This defense can be raised if the officer draws the accused’s blood without his or her consent or pursuant to a valid warrant;
- Accident report privilege. Statements made during the course of law enforcement’s investigation of an accident are subject to immunity under this privilege.
- Field sobriety tests. A Florida DUI defense attorney can raise this defense if the results of the field sobriety test were skewed due to shock, injury, or disability.
- Breathalyzer test. This defense can be raised if a breathalyzer test was administered after airbags were deployed in the accused’s vehicle. Deployment of airbags can cause a higher BAC reading, the results of which can be challenged by the defense.
- Wheel witness. If a person exits his or her vehicle following an accident but before police arrive on the scene, the prosecution may have difficulty in proving that he or she was the individual driving at the time of the accident.
- Intervening cause. The accused can raise this defense if he or she can establish that an intervening cause was responsible for the death or injury to the victim.
- BAC level. If a person’s BAC was not in excess of the legal limit at the time of the accident (0.08% per volume), this defense can be asserted.
- Physical control. An individual can assert that he or she was not in physical control of the vehicle at the time of his or her arrest.
- Chemical test. If a chemical test was not administered in a proper fashion, any evidence deriving therefrom should be excluded.
- Miranda warnings. An attorney can raise this defense if the prosecution attempts to use statements against the accused that were made without being given his or her Miranda warnings.
- 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
If you were arrested for a DUI, you may have several questions about your case. At Musca Law, our attorneys want to ensure that you fully understand what to expect and that you are fully aware of the nature of the charges you are facing. To get started, the following are questions that many individuals have when they first meet with us during their initial case evaluation.
Is a DUI always charged as a misdemeanor? Under what circumstances can it be charged as a felony?
A person can be charged with a felony in the second-degree if he or she caused the death of another individual due to alcohol and/or drug impairment. A person can face second-degree felony charges if he or she caused serious bodily injury to another due to alcohol and/or drug impairment. A DUI can also be charged as a felony if the accused leaves the scene of the accident that resulted in injuries or death to another individual.
A person can also be charged with a felony for a third DUI conviction within the same ten year time period as a previous DUI conviction. Felony charges can also be sought if a person receives a fourth or subsequent DUI, regardless of when the prior DUI conviction occurred.
What are the differences between DUI charges for accidents involving damage to property, non-serious injuries, serious injuries, or fatalities?
It is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor when an impaired person causes non-serious injuries and/or property damage in an accident. The prosecution will seek third-degree felony charges should a driver sustain injuries due to an impaired driver. The death of any human being, including a quick child, caused by an impaired driver, is 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 serious repercussions.
Can I serve my prison sentence in a residential treatment facility for drug and/or alcoholism addiction?
Yes. In some cases, and pursuant to the court’s discretion, a person can serve his or her prison sentence, or at least a part of it, in a residential alcohol or drug counseling program. The time spent in the recovery program can be credited towards the entire prison term.
If I am arrested for a DUI, how long will I have to wait until being released from jail?
A person who was placed under arrest for a DUI will not be released from jail until (i) his or her blood alcohol concentration is under 0.05%, (ii) he or she recovers from the influence of drugs or alcohol, or (iii) until he or she has been in police custody for at least eight hours.
Don’t Take a Chance with Your Liberty; Contact Musca Law’s Seasoned Florida DUI Defense Attorneys Today!
Do not wait to seek qualified legal counsel to assist you in your DUI manslaughter case. Contact Musca Law now to speak to a skilled West Palm Beach criminal law attorney about your West Palm Beach, FL 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.
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