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DUI Manslaughter

Generally, a person charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time faces harsh penalties, but the same conduct can be charged as a second degree felony if anyone is killed after a crash. The prosecution does not necessarily need to prove that the driver’s alcohol intoxication or drug impairment caused the accident.

Instead, the prosecutor just needs to show that as a result of the operation of the vehicle, the defendant caused or contributed to causing the death of the victim. 

DUI Manslaughter Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL

A successful defense against any DUI manslaughter charge takes someone with in-depth knowledge of the many aspects of a DUI manslaughter case. These cases often involve testimony from an accident reconstruction expert, a drug recognition evaluator, and/or a toxicologist.

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell have years of experience on both sides of the law. Steven Bell is a former Broward County public defender who understands the county courts and knows what it takes to challenge the charges. Lawrence Meltzer also has extensive experience in the area, but as a Broward County prosecutor, where he handled a plethora of DUI cases.

The skills and experiences of the attorney can be critical in protecting your future. If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Sunrise, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Tamarac or any of the surrounding areas, take the important first step of your Broward County DUI manslaughter defense strategy.

Call Meltzer & Bell at (954) 765-6585 today.

Information about DUI Manslaughter in Florida

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Florida DUI Manslaughter Defined

Almost any fatal car accident can result in a charge of DUI manslaughter if you meet the legal standard for a conviction of DUI.  In Florida, you can be convicted of DUI by either of two standards:

  • If you have a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above while driving a motor vehicle, called a “per se” DUI
  • If your normal faculties are impaired by alcohol, drugs, inhalants or controlled substances (for example: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or Valium) while driving

The term “normal faculties” is defined by Fla. Stat. § 316.1934 as including the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, make judgments and normally perform general mental and physical activities of daily life. If it can be shown that you lack full possession of normal faculties, you will be considered impaired.

It is therefore entirely possible to be charged with DUI manslaughter under Florida law in Broward County or the surrounding areas if a police officer claims your faculties to be impaired even when your BAC was not over the .08 limit, or if alcohol was not the direct cause of the accident.

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Prosecuting DUI Manslaughter Cases

Getting a conviction of DUI manslaughter has a lower threshold for the prosecution to meet than in a normal manslaughter or vehicular homicide case: one of simple negligence. Furthermore, the prosecution is not required to prove the driver’s drinking caused the accident.

The law requires only that the operation of the vehicle caused the accident and the driver was intoxicated.  Therefore, any lack of care on the part of a driver under the influence on which a fatal accident can be blamed can result in a conviction of DUI manslaughter. 

Some examples of situations that have resulted in a conviction of DUI manslaughter are:

  • Running into another car while under the influence of prescription drugs;
  • Running a red light while under the influence of alcohol; and
  • Turning directly in front of an oncoming car while having a blood-alcohol level over twice the legal limit.

In such a situation, the prosecution does not need to prove the person ran a red light because he or she was under the influence of alcohol. The prosecution only needs to prove he or she was under the influence of alcohol at the time the driver negligently caused the fatal accident by running the red light.

Regardless of the situation that resulted in your DUI manslaughter charge, whether you were accused of drinking alcohol, taking prescription drugs or using illegal drugs, the assistance of an experienced DUI defense lawyer serving Broward County is strongly suggested.

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Penalties for DUI Manslaughter in Florida

Normally, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony, and conviction can result in:

  • 15 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Permanent revocation of your driver’s license

If the driver knew or should have known, that the crash occurred and failed to give information and render aid as required by Florida law, the charge increases to a first-degree felony. A conviction can result in:

  • 30 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Permanent revocation of your driver’s license

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Finding a DUI Manslaughter Attorney in Broward County

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter anywhere in Broward County, contact a Fort Lauderdale DUI manslaughter defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell. The attorneys work with clients throughout the Broward County area, including those in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Miramar, Davie, Pompano Beach, Plantation, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Sunrise and Wilton Manors.

Call (954) 765-6585 to schedule a free consultation today with a local criminal defense attorney

We represent clients charged with DUI Manslaughter after an arrest by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol, or another local law enforcement agency. We can begin your defense today.

This article was last updated on Friday, October 21, 2016.

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