Did you know that there are over 5,000 reported accident cases each year in Florida alone? All of these accidents are related to alcohol consumption. Additionally, more than 7% of these cases lead to fatal injuries.
Despite the reported cases decreasing in recent years, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs remains a significant contributor to many traffic-related fatalities and injuries in the state.
On average, more than 29% of the traffic-related deaths reported each year are caused by drivers under the influence. DUI cases are subject to harsh punishment.
Keep reading to learn more about DUI manslaughter penalties in the state of Florida.
What Is DUI Manslaughter?
DUI Manslaughter, according to the Florida Statutes Section 316.193(3)(c)(3)(a), refers to a second-degree felony. If you are convicted of a second-degree felony in the state, you are punishable by a fine of $10,000.00 or 15-year imprisonment.
DUI manslaughter is different from any other crime. A large percentage of other crimes in the state are founded on the accused contemporaneous guilty mind. For example, murder contrasts significantly with DUI in that anybody committing murder has the intention to kill.
DUI Manslaughter Penalties in Florida
In the context of Florida Law, DUI is a severe criminal offense. DUI is not categorized as a murder case unless there is enough proof that there was an intention to kill. Nevertheless, it is also easy to prove a DUI without considering the guilty mind element.
If you get a DUI Manslaughter conviction in Florida, you are punishable by the following penalties:
1. DUI Manslaughter
If you are found guilty of DUI manslaughter, primarily as a second-degree felony, you can serve a jail term of up to 15 years in prison or pay up to $10,000 in fines.
With DUI manslaughter, you are liable to offer community service, have your vehicle impounded, and at the same time take DUI substance abuse classes. In addition, the law requires that you be evaluated on psychosocial levels and undergo substance abuse treatment after that.
2. DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene
In case after a DUI accident, you leave the scene without giving out the necessary information or helping in any way to the situation; you can be convicted of a First Degree Felony.
DUI Manslaughter Minimum Sentence Requirement
DUI Manslaughter is considered one of the rare cases that allow downward departure sentence if there is enough evidence for the same. Usually, such a decision is based on the mitigating circumstances around the incident.
If the jury establishes a reason for a downward departure sentence, the law requires an outcome that is lower than the 124.5 months’ requirement.
Despite such allows, Florida Statute 316.193(3)(c)(3) caps the ability of any judge to go ahead with such a sentence. According to this statute, the minimum term for a DUI Manslaughter conviction, whether or not there are mitigating circumstances, is a jail term of 4 years.
DUI Manslaughter Prosecution
With reference to Florida Law, DUI manslaughter is considered a criminal charge for anyone accused of DUI and causes or directly contributes to another person’s death.
You can also be prosecuted if the accused actions lead to another human’s death or the death of an unborn child.
Possible Defenses for DUI Manslaughter in Florida
When convicted of DUI manslaughter, you still have a few instances to defend yourself. The first instance is the pretrial defenses and the trial defenses standard for any criminal case. Besides such defenses, you still have a chance to defend your conviction through evidentiary defenses.
If you can argue well against your conviction, you stand a higher chance of serving reduced penalties. Some of the most applicable evidentiary defenses you can consider for your manslaughter case include:
1. Illegal Traffic Stops
Florida Law requires traffic police and other law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle when you have committed a traffic offense or substantial proof that you have committed a crime.
In case the offers illegally stop you, you can argue out your case along these lines. Where your evidence is satisfactory, your case may be dismissed.
2. Improper Field Sobriety Tests
For any traffic police to establish that you are driving under the influence of any substance, they are required by the law to carry out proper field sobriety tests. Where the officers have challenges with the test, it becomes hard to prove whether or not it is true you were intoxicated. In such cases, the tests are considered unreliable and, thus, not admissible.
3. Insufficient Probable Cause
Florida Law requires any arresting officer to show probable cause to charge you with DUI manslaughter. Where insufficient evidence and unreasonable conclusions were used, the arrest is deemed illegal so, the evidence is suppressed.
4. Inadmissible Breath Results
Law enforcement officers use breathalyzer machines to test the level of intoxication in drivers. With most of these machines being flawed, you can build a case from here. Unless the breath results meet the necessary standards, they cannot be used to warrant an arrest for DUI Manslaughter.
Hire A DUI Lawyer Today
Undoubtedly, DUI is a severe criminal offense that can have you serve up to 15 years in prison, do community service, lose your driving privileges, and have your car impounded. Whereas the penalties for DUI manslaughter are severe in Florida, you have a chance to defend yourself, especially if there is probable cause.
It would help if you were on the lookout for evidentiary defenses such as inadmissible breath results, insufficient probable cause, improper field sobriety tests, and illegal stops. With such an approach, you stand a higher chance of winning your DUI manslaughter case. However, identifying these defenses isn’t as easy as it sounds, and that’s why it is necessary to engage a reliable lawyer to help you in your defense.
Get in touch with Meltzer & Bell today and let the experienced DUI lawyers and experts here defend your case successfully! The team at Meltzer & Bell is committed to helping you secure your freedom by putting you and your rights first.