Any time someone dies in a car accident, it is a horrible tragedy. If there was even a hint of alcohol being a factor in the crash, the police and prosecutors will be looking for someone to blame and someone to send to prison.

My name is Tim Flaherty. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. Criminal & DUI defense are our only areas of practice. If you are being investigated, or you have already been arrested, for DUI Manslaughter in Crestview, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 398-8098 for a free case review.

What does the State have to prove to convict me of DUI Manslaughter in Crestview?

Florida Statute 316.193 provides the elements of DUI Manslaughter that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. They are as follows:

  • The offender drove a vehicle, or was in actual physical control of a vehicle, and the person is either under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired; or
  • had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or higher; and
  • caused the death of another human being or unborn child.

What is the maximum sentence for DUI Manslaughter in Crestview?

As a second degree felony, the maximum sentence for DUI Manslaughter is 15 years in prison.

Without any sentencing enhancements under the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, DUI Manslaughter is a Level 8 offense with 74 points. The minimum sentence under the guidelines is calculated as follows:

74 points – 28 = 46. 46 x 0.75 = 34.5 months in prison.

Even though the guidelines “only” require a minimum sentence of 34.5 months, Florida Statute 316.193(3) has a specific provision that requires a 48 month mandatory minimum sentence. Minimum mandatory sentences are different from guideline sentences in that the Judge is required to impose the sentence. He or she does not have discretion to depart and issue a lower sentence. If you are convicted, you will go to prison for at least 4 years.

Another factor is a sentencing enhancement to account for the fact that someone died. Under Florida law, that adds 120 additional points to the scoresheet. Under that scenario, the sentence would be calculated as follows:

74 points + 120 death points = 194. 194 – 28 = 166. 166 x 0.75 = 124.5 months as a minimum sentence.

If the State alleged that you left the scene of the accident, that doubles the potential penalty from 15 to 30 years in prison.

How will you defend me if I am charged with DUI Manslaughter in Crestview?

Every defense starts with the elements. The first thing we will do is go through each and every piece of evidence in the case and examine whether the State has sufficient evidence to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are a couple examples:

  • The State must prove you were driving or in actual physical control. Can they prove that? Is it possible we can make an argument that you weren’t driving, or that the car was inoperable at the time?
  • The State has to prove that you were impaired. Can we attack their evidence of this element? If their evidence is a blood draw, were proper collection and testing protocols followed? If it was a breath test, was the Intoxilyzer properly maintained, calibrated, and tested?

The other defense strategy we will discuss with you involves plea negotiations with the State Attorney. Obviously, that is going to be difficult because someone died. It is also more complicated because no mater what, if you plead guilty, the judge must impose at least the 4 year minimum mandatory sentence. Our job is to explore all options, and that is exactly what I will do in your case.

If we can develop a strategy that gives us a chance to “win” the case, we will execute that strategy at trial. If we do not think that a trial is in your best interest, we will work to reduce the sentence as much as possible.

Either way, we will leave no stone unturned as we help you navigate this process.

Contact a Crestview Felony Traffic Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a felony traffic offense in Crestview, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 398-8098 for a free consultation.

To learn more about our felony traffic offense practice areas, click here.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney