It is a horrible tragedy when someone is killed in a traffic crash. If the police think alcohol was involved, they will be relentless in looking for the person who caused the accident. The State Attorney will be relentless in trying to send that person to prison for a very long time.
At Flaherty & Merrifield, Criminal & DUI defense have been our only areas of practice since 2001. If you are the target of an investigation, call our Destin DUI manslaughter lawyers at (850) 460-7470 for a free case review.
What are the elements of DUI Manslaughter in Destin?
Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.193, the State must prove the following elements beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction for DUI Manslaughter:
- The defendant was in actual physical control of a vehicle, and
- The defendant was under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired; or
- The defendant had a B.A.C. of 0.08 or higher; and
- The defendant caused the death of another human being or unborn child.
How long of a sentence am I facing for DUI Manslaughter in Destin?
In Florida, DUI Manslaughter is a second degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
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.
Florida Statute 316.193(3) also requires a 48 month mandatory minimum sentence which renders the 34.5 month guideline sentence irrelevant. With a minimum mandatory sentence, the Judge has NO discretion to sentence lower than the minimum. This differs from a guideline sentence, where the judge has some discretion to rule in favor of a Downward Departure and sentence below the guidelines.
There is also a sentencing enhancement that adds 120 points for the death that took place. That impacts the potential sentence as follows:
74 points + 120 death points = 194. 194 – 28 = 166. 166 x 0.75 = 124.5 months in prison.
In addition to the sentence for DUI Manslaughter, if the State can prove that you also left the scene after the accident, they can seek an additional 15 years in prison.
What defenses are there for DUI Manslaughter in Destin?
When I was a young lawyer, a mentor told me that when you defend criminal cases, you always start with the elements. What does that mean? It means that we will carefully review every aspect of the State’s case to see if we can attack any or all of the elements that they have to prove.
Here are a few examples:
- Can the State prove that you were the one driving? Can they prove that you were in actual physical control? If we can attack that element successfully, they can’t prove the case against you.
- Can the State prove impairment? If they evidence such as blood, or a breath sample, can be attack the collection or analysis of that evidence? Can we raise doubts about whether proper procedures were followed for the accurate testing and preservation of evidence? If there was a breath test, can we raise doubt about the accuracy of the breath machine?
- Can the State prove that you caused the accident? Can they prove that it was your impairment that played a significant factor in the accident taking place?
In every case, we prepare for trial. On the other hand, we also prepare for a possible plea negotiation. With a case like DUI Manslaughter, plea discussions are difficult because of the 4 year mandatory sentence, but we will explore all options. We will explain all of your options to you so that you can make an informed decision about how to resolve your case the best way possible.
Call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for an immediate free case review if you have been charged with DUI Manslaughter in Destin.
To learn more about our Destin DUI traffic defense practice click here.