When an allegation of drunk driving caused or contributed to the death of another person, the crime can be charged as "DUI manslaughter" which is a second-degree felony. Even harsher penalties can apply if the driver left the scene of the accident. It is important to realize that there is no double jeopardy prohibition in Florida against convictions for both DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
DUI manslaughter cases can involve single and multiple vehicle collisions involving pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, commercial motor vehicles, trucks, and automobiles.
If the accident occurred in Leon County, FL, then the case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney's Office in the Second Judicial Circuit for Tallahassee and Leon County, Florida. The prosecutor relies heavily on the wishes of the victim's family in these cases.
Obtaining qualified representation early in the case is critical so that all favorable evidence is preserved. The exculpatory evidence may not be adequately preserved by law enforcement during the traffic homicide investigation.
Attorney for DUI Manslaughter in Tallahassee, FL
For any DUI Manslaughter case in Tallahassee, FL, or the surrounding areas in North Florida, then contact an experienced defense attorney at Pumphrey Law. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have years of experience representing clients facing a variety of drunk driving charges. Our attorneys will make sure your rights are protected as we fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
The criminal defense attorney you hire should be familiar with the way officers diagram the scene, use traffic templates, take measurements at the crash scene, photograph evidence, determining speeds from skid mark evidence, and make determinations related to frictional forces and acceleration. We are experienced in fighting these types of cases. Our attorneys also understand how to analyze impact damages as it relates to vehicle and occupant movement.
Our offices are located in Tallahassee, and we represent people throughout Monticello, Midway, Crawfordville, Bristol and nearby areas. Our attorneys are available to talk with you about the facts of the case and what you may need to do immediately to protect your rights after this serious criminal allegation is made against you.
Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation.
Information About DUI Manslaughter Charges
- DUI Manslaughter Under Florida Law
- Possible Defenses to DUI Manslaughter Charges
- Collateral Issues in DUI Manslaughter Cases
If a person driving under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or a combination of the two, causes or contributes to an accident in which someone is killed, he or she may be charged with DUI manslaughter. According to Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.193, this also could include the death of an unborn child after a drunk driving accident.
Under Florida law, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by a minimum of four years in prison, but up to 15 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000. If it is alleged the crime also involves the driver leaving the scene of the accident, then the crime can be charged as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in Florida state prison and a $10,000 fine.
Convictions for felony DUI-related offenses in Florida often come with a driver's license suspension. In addition, a conviction for DUI manslaughter could mean administrative penalties that include a permanent revocation of your driver’s license.
When you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, you may feel overwhelmed and think there is no way out. Keep in mind that you have the right to challenge the charges. A skilled Tallahassee DUI defense lawyer can help you build a strong defense to fight the charges.
Most of the DUI manslaughter cases involve a DUI blood test taken in one more of the following ways:
- by a nurse or paramedic at the direction of law enforcement in an ambulance or at the hospital;
- by a paramedic or the hospital for medical purposes.
Cases involving serious bodily injury or the death of another person rarely involve a urine test or a breath test because the accuracy and reliability of these types of test can be more easily challenged at trial.
The accident report privilege also plays an important part in these cases because the suspect's statements may not be admissible if the officer does not make it clear the statements are part of a criminal investigation and not the accident investigation. Additionally, the officer MUST read Miranda which is not usually required in a normal roadside DUI investigation. It is important to know if the arresting officer followed the correct procedures, but if not, the results of the blood test might be suppressed or excluded from the trial.
Accident Reconstruction Issues in DUI Manslaughter Cases
The attorneys at Pumphrey Law in Tallahassee, FL, are familiar with the investigation analysis and reconstruction of vehicle collisions involving:
- braking efficiency in speed formulas;
- occupant kinematics;
- co-efficient of friction of roadway;
- time and distance relationships;
- perception and reaction times;
- traffic signal lighting sequencing analysis;
- damage analysis;
- speeds from damage;
- lamp analysis; and
- vehicle dynamics.
Our attorneys for DUI related crashes are also familiar with crime scene evidence analysis and forensic mapping of collision scenes using close range photogrammetry and total stations.
Double Jeopardy Issues for Charges Related to DUI Manslaughter
The Courts in Florida have consistently held that a defendant convicted of DUI manslaughter has already been punished for the death and can not also be convicted of other offenses involving death such as:
- vehicular homicide;
- careless driving without a license causing death or serious bodily injury.
One exception to this rule is that a person can be convicted of both DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death without violating double jeopardy principles.
Under Florida law, DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene cases often carry harsh criminal penalties. However, these cases can also involve civil lawsuits for negligence and wrongful death against the suspected driver. Restitution can be ordered as part of the criminal sentence, plus the victim's family can also seek restitution from the driver or the driver's insurance company in a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you resolved both the civil and the criminal test under the best possible terms.
Basic Traffic Homicide Investigation Course in Tallahassee, FL - Visit the website of the Tallahassee Community College to learn more about the basic Traffic Homicide Investigation course, FDLE Court 98, which is an 80-hour course for Salary Incentive Credit by the FDLE Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. The course is offered to law enforcement attendees only. The court helps officers learn more about their duties and responsibilities while conducting a traffic investigation at the scene of an accident. The course involves learning to identify evidence found on the roadway and from the vehicle. The course also teaches the basic mathematical calculations and physical laws involved in accident reconstruction. Students in the course learn how to measure and diagram the scene. Students also learn how to photography and video the scene.
Advanced Traffic Homicide Investigation Course in Tallahassee - Visit the TCC website to learn more about courses offered by the Florida Public Safety Institute related to DUI and Traffic Safety Training including the Advanced Traffic Homicide Investigation. The course is designed for Law Enforcement Professional on a career track to become a traffic crash reconstructionist. An exercise in the measurement of vehicle crush deformation will be conducted.Students in the course include instruction on the laws of physics that apply to friction forces, acceleration and speed. Students also learn the dynamics of a vehicle in motion with respect to airborne situations such as flips, vaults and falls. The course also includes an introduction to linear momentum during the vehicle dynamics section.
Traffic Homicide Unit of the Tallahassee Police Department - Visit the website of the City of Tampa to learn more about the Traffic Enforcement Unit of the Tallahassee Police Department to learn more about how these officers in the receive special training in hit-and-run and traffic crash investigations. The website contains information explaining how motorcycle and aggressive driving officers investigate all fatal traffic crashes as well as crashes involving serious injury.
Finding an Attorney for Felony DUI Manslaughter Charges
If you are under investigation in any driving under the influence case involving the death of another person, never talk to law enforcement about the facts of the case until after you have consulted a DUI attorney in Tallahassee.
The attorneys at Pumphrey Law know about the tactics used by traffic homicide investigators with the Tallahassee Police Department, the Leon County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
Our attorneys represent men and women charged with serious driving under the influence offenses, and they will treat your case as a matter of the utmost importance. We work hard to protect our clients at every stage of the criminal case. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.
This article was last updated on Monday, March 20, 2017.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.