In the state of Florida, DUI manslaughter is typically a second-degree felony offense. However, if the court finds that the defendant knew the crash happened and failed to give information or render aid, it will be charged as a first-degree felony.
The mandatory-minimum sentence for DUI manslaughter is four (4) years by statute. However, in reality, felony offenses in the State of Florida have sentencing guidelines determined by the offense level assigned and the point system established for the Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. In many instances, despite the four year minimum mandatory, an accused will likely face 124.5 months in prison or more even on a single count of DUI Manslaughter with no priors. However, depending on the nature of the offense, the judge may, upon filing of a motion, impose a downward departure sentence that is less severe than the scoresheet requires but this is discretionary and many judges are reluctant and/or unwilling to downward depart on DUI death cases.
Other possible penalties include:
- A fine of up to $10,000;
- Up to 15 years in prison per count;
- Up to 15 years’ probation per count;
- Impoundment of the defendant’s vehicle;
- Permanent revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license;
- Order to undergo substance abuse treatment and a psychological evaluation; and
- Order to complete a DUI Substance Abuse Course.
As you can see, the penalties for DUI manslaughter can be devastating. If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, your first call should be to a criminal lawyer.
Michael D. Leader is a DUI attorney in Fort Lauderdale who will evaluate your case in a free initial consultation. The lawyers at Leader & Leader P.A. have more than 83 years of combined legal experience. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule an appointment.
What Are Possible Defenses Against DUI Manslaughter Charges?
There are pretrial and trial defenses in any criminal case. In addition to these, the following four defense strategies are often effective against DUI manslaughter charges:
- Detention Was Illegal
An officer can only detain you beyond the time necessary for you to cooperate with the accident investigation if they have reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If the officer unlawfully detains you, then any evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful detention may be subject to suppression which prevents the prosecution from using any such evidence against you.
- Field Sobriety Exercise Was Improperly Conducted
Police officers often make mistakes when conducting field sobriety tests. Your DUI attorney may be able to reduce the officer’s credibility and the credibility of the FSE results if:
- The officer was not qualified to perform the specific field sobriety tests;
- If the exercise performed had not been deemed reliable by the courts; or
- You have injuries or disabilities that could affect the results of an exercises.
If the Officer orders you instead of asking you or does not have the legal right to seek the exercises, they may also be subject to suppression or exclusion from your case.
- Breath/Blood/Urine Test Results Are Inadmissible
There are several reasons why a breathalyzer, urine or blood test could produce inaccurate results. This can happen if:
- The machines used for testing were not properly maintained or calibrated;
- The officer did not follow the standardized protocol when administering the test;
- The test sought was not legally permitted or justified under the circumstances;
- A warrant was required but was not obtained;
- You were threatened with a forced blood draw or other test when law enforcement did not have the required information/knowledge to seek the test at the time they sought it;
- Law enforcement claims the test was voluntary but there is evidence to show it was a mere acquiescence to their apparent authority;
- In the case of blood or urine samples, the manner in which they are taken, stored and/or the materials used may cause an issue that can result in exclusion of the results.
- Officer Did Not Have Probable Cause to Make the Arrest
An officer cannot arrest a DUI suspect without probable cause that the suspect was under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired. If your DUI attorney can prove that there was insufficient evidence to justify probable cause, then any evidence obtained after the arrest may be suppressed. However, many times they will take the blood or urine but not make a physical arrest in the case of a death or serious bodily injury so this issue may not apply in some cases to the arrest but may be applicable to other aspects of the case depending on what the officer knew and how he/she knew it at the time they took action on a particular matter.
If you are facing DUI charges in Florida, contact Leader & Leader P.A. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a free consultation with a criminal lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.