Tallahassee Man Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter in ATV

July 17, 2023 Criminal Defense

A man in Tallahassee has just been sentenced to 15 years in prison for a vehicular homicide case. The defendant was not operating a typical passenger motor vehicle, but instead an ATV. This case highlights that a person can be charged with vehicular manslaughter even if the method of transportation was not a standard motor vehicle.

This page will provide the case details and the relative criminal charges, along with helpful information on possible criminal defenses.

Case Details

On May 15, 2021, Deon Webster was riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) near the corner of High Road and Green Tree Lane when he popped a “wheelie.” When he did this, Webster lost control of the ATV and crashed into a person riding a scooter from the opposite direction, resulting in both men being thrown from their vehicles.

The victim riding the scooter was 20-year-old Noah Cramer, a student at Tallahassee Community College. Cramer’s father confirmed that his son was on his way to work when he was struck by the ATV. Cramer suffered severe head injuries from the wreck and died the following day from his injuries.

“I was holding him when he took his first breath, and I was there when he took his last,” Cramer’s father said. “It should have never happened. My son should still be here.”

Webster also suffered injuries from the wreck—he had a broken femur, fractured vertebrae, and a collapsed lung. He was charged with vehicular homicide and driving without a license.

Cramer’s family warns of the dangers of unlawful ATV and OFV use, and how there are certain laws and warning stickers meant to deter those from taking them on public roadways.

“It’s clearly stated and it still continues to happen,” Cramer’s father said. “There’s so much these families go through. My son is a case number in Leon County, but let’s look at the bigger picture. These off-road vehicles are an issue on city streets nationwide, you see so many videos of people weaving in and out of traffic and doing stunts.”

Deon Webster was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for the vehicular homicide case that took the life of Noah Cramer. He was also found guilty of driving without a license. In addition to imprisonment, Webster has been sentenced to five years of probation and 120 hours of community service. 

What Does Florida Law Consider a ‘Vehicle?’

A “motor vehicle” is defined under Florida Statute Section 320.01 as any of the following:

  • Automobile;
  • Motorcycle;
  • Truck;
  • Trailer;
  • Semitrailer;
  • Truck tractor;
  • Semitrailer Combination; or
  • Any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power.

Reckless Driving in Florida

Reckless driving is defined under Florida Statute Section 316.192 as any person who operates a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety or persons or property.

A reckless driving offense that causes damage to the property or person of another can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

If the reckless driving offense results in the serious bodily injury of another person, then the defendant can be charged with a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

However, if the reckless driving offense results in the death of another person, it can result in a more serious charge such as vehicular homicide.

Vehicular Homicide in Florida

Florida Statute Section 782.071 defines vehicular homicide as the offense of killing another human being or unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner that is likely to cause great bodily harm or the death of another person.

Vehicular homicide is considered a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

However, the charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if at the time of the offense the defendant:

  • Knew, or should have known that the accident occurred; and
  • Failed to render aid or provide their information.

The penalties for a first-degree felony include up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

Florida law explains that all-terrain vehicles (ATV) are only allowed to be operated during daylight hours where there is an unpaved road with a speed limit of less than 35mph. However, individual counties may choose to be exempt or designate specific unpaved roads for ATV use.

Safety Tips for Off-Highway Vehicles

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FLHSMV) provides the following safety tips for those who wish to operate off-highway vehicles (OHV):

  • Only ride OHV on designated trials and off-paved roads;
  • Any riders 17 or older are encouraged to, and any riders who are 16 or younger must wear an approved safety helmet and eye protection;
  • Wear a face shield or goggles to protect yourself from rocks, branches, or other debris that may hit your face while operating the OHV;
  • Never operate an OFV while impaired;
  • Never carry more than the designated number of passengers for an OFV;
  • Never ride an OFV that is too big for you;
  • Riders under 16 must be under adult supervision and have proof of completion of a Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) safety course;
  • Always check tire pressure to ensure they aren’t over-inflated or under-inflated;
  • Always provide others with your riding plan, including when and where you are riding and when you expect to return; and
  • Remember to tread lightly, as riding behavior can harm the land or become dangerous to those riding.

Find a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one are facing criminal prosecution for an alleged reckless driving offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a defense attorney near you. If convicted, a reckless driving offense can result in steep fines, potential imprisonment, and the possibility of losing your ability to drive. Even after the statute-specific penalties have been completed, you may find difficulties in finding a place to work or live. The best way to protect yourself and your future is to work with a defense attorney experienced in reckless driving cases.

Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys understand the ins and outs of Florida laws. When you hire us to represent your case, we provide you with non-stop support and guidance, along with aggressive criminal defense to try and get the charges lessened or dismissed completely. Call Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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