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Florida DUI Manslaughter

If a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, the charge they will face is driving under the influence (DUI). However, if the DUI crash results in the death of another person or unborn child, the charge the defendant would face is DUI manslaughter. DUI manslaughter cases can involve single and multiple vehicle collisions involving pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, commercial motor vehicles, trucks, and automobiles.

The state of Florida harshly prosecutes those who cause the death of others due to driving while impaired. DUI offenses already carry the penalties of expensive fines and possible imprisonment. For a DUI manslaughter charge, the stakes are even higher. This is why it is extremely important to prioritize seeking legal representation.

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.

Obtaining qualified representation early in the case is critical so that all favorable evidence is preserved. To avoid the harsh penalties that come with a DUI manslaughter offense, consult with a DUI and DUI manslaughter attorney near you today.

Attorney for DUI Manslaughter in Tallahassee, FL

Contact an experienced defense attorney at Pumphrey Law Firm if you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Florida. Our attorneys have years of experience representing clients facing a variety of drunk driving charges. We will ensure 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 police officers handle DUI accidents scenes. This can include the use of traffic templates, measurements taken at the crash scene, photographed evidence, and determinations related to frictional forces and acceleration. Our attorneys also understand how to analyze impact damages as it relates to vehicle and occupant movement.

Pumphrey Law Firm represents people throughout Monticello, Midway, Crawfordville, Bristol and nearby areas. Our attorneys are available to talk with you about the details of your case and what your immediate steps should be to protect your rights after this serious criminal allegation is made against you.

Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to schedule a free case evaluation.

Information About DUI Manslaughter Charges

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DUI Manslaughter Under Florida Law

DUI manslaughter is the criminal offense of when a person has caused the death of another person or unborn baby due to driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. Florida Statute Section 316.193 explains a person is guilty of a DUI manslaughter offense if:

  • The defendant was in actual physical control of a vehicle;
  • The defendant was under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to an extent where their normal faculties are impaired; or
  • Has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher; and
  • Has caused the death of another person or unborn child.

An “unborn child” is defined under Florida Statute Section 775.021 as a human being or homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.

Penalties for DUI Manslaughter

Under Florida law, DUI manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony has a penalty up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

Notably, if a defendant is accused of leaving the scene of the wreck or fails to provide their information or aid, a DUI manslaughter charge is enhanced to a first-degree felony. The penalties for a first-degree felony include up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

DUI manslaughter is ranked as a level 8 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. But it goes up to a level 9 offense for any defendant who commits a DUI manslaughter offense and fails to render aid or provide information after the crash.

A defendant who is convicted of a DUI manslaughter charge faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years in prison.

Collateral Damages in DUI Manslaughter Cases

In addition to facing fines and imprisonment for a second- or first-degree felony, a defendant who is convicted of a DUI manslaughter offense may face additional penalties including:

  • Driver’s license revocation;
  • Impounded vehicle;
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock device (IID);
  • Community service;
  • Completion of a DUI alcohol and substance abuse program; and
  • Treatment for substance abuse.

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Possible Defenses to DUI Manslaughter Charges

When you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, you may feel overwhelmed and think there is no way out. Keep in mind that even after you have been arrested, you have the right to challenge the charges against you. A skilled Tallahassee DUI defense lawyer can help you build a strong defense to fight the charges.

The following lists possible defenses for a DUI manslaughter charge in Florida:

  • Improper Field Sobriety Exercises – Law enforcement will ordinarily administer field sobriety exercises to determine if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. The testing for breath, blood, and urine in DUI cases are all complex matters, and the conditions under which the field sobriety exercises were administered and completed can be used as a defense.
  • Unlawful Traffic Stop – When a police officer pulls someone over, it must be because (1) the officer had reason to believe the driver was committing a traffic infraction or (2) the officer had probable cause that the driver committed a crime. A defense attorney could help establish whether the officer conducted an illegal traffic stop, which could result in all evidence from the traffic stop getting suppressed as evidence.
  • Inadmissible Breath Results – When law enforcement administers a breathalyzer in a suspected DUI case, there are specific rules and maintenance requirements that must be followed. If police fail to properly conduct the test or maintain the machines to properly conduct the test, it can be used as a defense in a DUI manslaughter case.
  • Inadmissible Blood Test Results – Law enforcement must have consent, an identifiable exigent circumstance, or a warrant before they may obtain a person’s blood for alcohol content testing. If none of these conditions are met, a blood test may be inadmissible at court.
  • Insufficient Probable Cause – Police must have probable cause to arrest a person suspected of DUI. If the police officer has insufficient evidence for probable cause, it can be used as a defense.
  • Implied Consent Warnings – Law enforcement is required to warn any person suspected of a DUI offense of the penalties if they decline to take a chemical test. Failure to warn the suspect could result in any refusal to partake in the test being inadmissible in court.

Each DUI manslaughter case will vary, as will the possible defenses. If you are facing criminal penalties for DUI manslaughter, it is in your best interest to speak with a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible.

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

In legal terms, double jeopardy is defined as the prosecution of a defendant twice for the same offense. Under the Department of Justice, the double jeopardy clause under the Fifth Amendment states that no person can be convicted of the same offense twice.

The Courts in Florida have consistently held that a defendant convicted of DUI manslaughter has already been punished for the death of the victim, and therefore cannot also be convicted of other offenses involving death such as:

However, one exception to this rule is if the defendant was accused of leaving the scene of the accident which then resulted in the victim’s death. In this case, the defendant can face convictions for both DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident without violating double jeopardy principles. 

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Additional Resources

  • 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.

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Finding an Attorney for Felony DUI Manslaughter Charges

If you are under investigation in any DUI case involving the death of another person, it is imperative that you speak with a skilled defense attorney in your area. We advise our clients to never talk to law enforcement about the facts of the case until after you have first consulted with 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 Floridians who have been charged with serious driving under the influence offenses and will work to strategize a strong defense for your case. We work hard to protect our clients at every stage of the criminal case. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation today.

Article last updated on May 31, 2023.

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