Getting arrested for a DUI can be a stressful, scary and costly experience. If you do not have an effective defense, you may be subject to stiff fines, a lengthy term of probation, substance abuse classes and treatment, and in rare cases, jail time. However, a DUI arrest and even a DUI conviction is usually something that people recover from and does not necessarily have a lasting effect on one’s life. Florida’s DUI statute, however, contains several enhancements that punish certain types of DUI cases far more seriously. If you have been charged with any type of DUI, you should consult a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights and craft your defense.
The most serious enhanced DUI offense is that of DUI manslaughter. Deaths associated with drinking and driving are unfortunately all too common. Of the over 30,000 traffic related deaths each year in the United States, about 10,000 involve alcohol. Because of public pressure against DUIs and lobbying by organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, DUI cases involving death or serious injuries are treated very seriously by Florida’s courts. Because of the higher risks and penalties involved, building an effective legal defense is all the more important.DUI Manslaughter Elements
As an enhanced offense, DUI manslaughter includes all of the elements of misdemeanor DUI with the addition of the key element: causation of the death of another human being. Under Florida Statute 316.193(3), the State of Florida must prove that the defendant was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, and at that time, the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to the point his or her normal faculties were impaired. The law defines normal faculties as the ability to walk, talk, operate a motor vehicle, and to understand and follow simple instructions.
In a DUI Manslaughter case, prosecutors must also prove that another person’s death was caused by the defendant. This element is unique among DUI cases and creates the possibility for a built in defense. For example, if a DUI driver is involve in an accident with a sober driver, but the sober driver is found to be 100% at fault for the accident, the DUI driver can and will still be arrested and prosecuted for DUI. This is because the act of drinking and driving is the criminal act, while the crash has little to do with it.
In a DUI manslaughter case, causation of the crash is a key issue. If your lawyer can present evidence that the deceased person or another person caused the crash resulting in the death, the prosecution may be forced to drop the DUI manslaughter charges. While you may still end up charged with a DUI, the state’s failure to prove that you actually caused the death can save you from the stiff penalties associated with this criminal charge. In order to build the best defense for your case, it is critical that you consult with a seasoned St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney.Penalties
The penalties associated with a DUI manslaughter are severe. A simple DUI is a misdemeanor case punishable by a maximum sentence of 180 days in county jail. A DUI manslaughter is upgraded to a second degree felony that is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Because a death is involved, prosecutors will often seek significant prison trial during negotiations and after trial. If convicted of DUI involving death, there is also a four year mandatory minimum sentence, along with a permanent license suspension, probation and other sanctions.Speak to a Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law have years of experience defending even the most complex DUI cases. We have the skills to build the best defense to your case and to secure the most favorable results possible. Call us today for a consultation at (727) 897-5413.