Tallahassee Man Sentenced to 13 Years for DUI Manslaughter

April 7, 2023 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI, News & Announcements

Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is not only dangerous, it is illegal. Alcohol and drugs can impair a person’s senses, and make it difficult to react to traffic, make quick decisions, and overall more likely to end up in an accident. In the most severe cases, this reckless driving can lead to the death of another person, which is called DUI manslaughter in Florida. DUI manslaughter is a heavy hitting charge, that can result in serious penalties for the convicted person.

In a recent case, a Tallahassee man has been sentenced to over 13 years in prison for a DUI manslaughter charge. This page will provide the case details along with relative information on DUI charges in Florida.

What was the Incident?

Christopher B. Jones was arrested for DUI manslaughter that took place on September 18th, 2021. According to the report, Jones and a friend were driving home after a road trip when he crashed head-on into another vehicle after driving the wrong way on the highway.

While Jones suffered no injuries, the driver of the other vehicle died from the head-on collision. The victim was a 23-year-old mother of four. The passenger also suffered devastating injuries but survived.

When police arrived at the scene and checked Jones’ BAC level via a blood test, it was 0.281 which is nearly three times the State’s legal limit. During their investigation, police obtained surveillance video from earlier that day. The video depicted Jones consuming eight alcoholic beverages within a five-hour period.

The report states that Jones left the first location and proceeded to drink more alcohol elsewhere before him and his friend made their way home. Jones was arrested on April 21st, 2022, for DUI manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily injury.

As of March 27th, 2023, Jones was sentenced to 13.25 years in prison.

DUI Manslaughter in Florida

For a person to be considered driving under the influence in Florida, it means their normal facilities are impaired to the point where they should legally not be driving behind the wheel of a vehicle. If a person is driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more, they may be charged with a DUI offense under Florida Statute Section 316.193.

The penalties for a first-time DUI offense include a fine between $500 and $1,000, and up to six months of imprisonment. For a second DUI offense, a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to nine months of imprisonment. In addition, those convicted of a second offense will be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on all vehicles that are individually or jointly owned by the convicted person.

There are enhanced penalties for those who cause damage, injury, or fatalities by driving under the influence.

A DUI offense that causes damage to another person or their property can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year of imprisonment.

A DUI offense that causes serious bodily injury to another person 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.

A DUI offense that causes the death of any human being or unborn child commits DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter 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 of imprisonment. However, the charges may be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the person knew or should have known that the crash occurred, and the driver failed to render aid or provide information as required under Florida Statute 316.062.  

Defenses to DUI Manslaughter

Even if you have already been charged with DUI manslaughter in Florida, it does not mean your case is over. There are various legal arguments that can be used in the defendant’s defense. An experienced defense attorney can help argue the charges against you, and help reduce or dismiss the charges. In addition to pretrial defenses, the following is a list of potential defenses which can be used in a DUI manslaughter case in Florida:

  • Insufficient evidence – If there is not any evidence to prove you were under the influence of alcohol or other substances during the wreck, you may be able to claim there is insufficient evidence to convict you of a DUI manslaughter offense.
  • Inadmissible BAC results – Police usually have drivers they suspect of a DUI breathe into a breathalyzer machine. It is not uncommon for the tests to be unreliable, fail to administer the test requirements accordingly, which can be used as a defense in your case.
  • Improper field sobriety testing – A field sobriety test is when law enforcement asks a driver to complete a series of tests, such as walking in a straight line or repeating the alphabet to prove they are not under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. If you believe your field sobriety tests were unlawful or unreliable, you may be able to use it as a defense in your case. Additionally, there may be a legal reason behind a failed field sobriety test. For example, many people have physical disabilities that may prevent them from walking in a heal to toe straight line.
  • Unlawful traffic stops – When police pull over a vehicle, it is for one of two reasons: the driver has failed to abide by the rules of the road and completed a driving infraction, or there is reasonable suspicion to believe the driver of the vehicle has committed a criminal offense. If you were pulled over and the officers were mistaken in their reasoning for pulling you over, you may be able to use the unlawful traffic stop as a defense.

The best way to determine which defense is applicable to your case is by reaching out to a skilled DUI Manslaughter defense attorney in your area.

Finding a DUI Manslaughter Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting into a car accident is an extremely scary and stressful situation. This is especially true if another person has died because of the crash. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI or DUI manslaughter, it is imperative that you seek out legal representation. An experienced attorney will review your case details and work towards strengthening a defense for your case. Don Pumphrey and his team have represented clients across the state for various criminal accusations. We vow to stand in your corner and fight for your future.

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today and receive a free consultation regarding your case. Call us at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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