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Traffic Homicide Investigations

If the officer investigating the case believes that the case involves a potential traffic homicide crash in Broward County, then the officer is trained to follow these guidelines when initiating a Traffic Homicide Investigation (T.H.I.) call-out. Although these procedures apply specifically for officers with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, other local law enforcement agencies have similar standard procedures in place. 

Unless there are fatalities on the scene, the officers will not call T.H.I. out based only on the information provided by Fire Rescue. The decision to call-out T.H.I. is based on information and updates provided by hospital emergency room personnel. A trauma alert instance will not be grounds for a call-out in and of itself. 

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell represent individuals charged with DUI-related offenses after a serious traffic crash in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and the surrounding areas in Broward County. We know the tactics used by local law enforcement officers including officers with the Florida Highway Patrol, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. 

Attorneys for a DUI Crash with Death in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you are involved in a crash in Broward County that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell. Criminal investigations start quickly in these cases if the officers suspect DUI, reckless driving or that any other criminal offense has occurred. 

How the Traffic Homicide Investigation Begins in Florida

Officers in Broward County, FL, are training that when a crash occurs, if a patient is transported to the hospital, the officer needs to make contact with a detail officer as soon as possible to get an update on the individual’s condition. If no detail officer is available a patrol officer shall be dispatched to the hospital to obtain this information.

While the determination of a T.H.I. call-out is being made, the scene shall be held as if it is a traffic homicide scene. If the information supplied by hospital personnel indicates there is any potential loss of life, the on-scene supervisor will request that the T.H.I. supervisor/designee be called.

The on-scene supervisor will have the Communications Center supervisor page the T.H.I. supervisor/designee and provide a contact number so the T.H.I. supervisor/designee can contact them directly. The T.H.I. supervisor/designee will determine if a T.H.I. response is required and if so will make any additional call-outs, i.e.: Crime Scene Unit.

In the event T.H.I. elects not to respond, the on-scene supervisor shall determine if additional call-outs are required.

When the DUI Suspect is Transported to the Hospital after a THI Investigation

If the suspect is transported to a hospital before the officer has arrived on the scene, the officer shall go to the hospital and establish contact with the suspect. The officer shall attempt to obtain consent from the suspect to obtain two samples of their blood for testing. The consent should be documented on the Department-approved consent form and audio recorded, when possible.

If the subject refuses to provide consent, the officer shall obtain a search warrant for the drawing of blood, utilizing the Department approved template. Upon obtaining the warrant from the judge, the officer shall obtain two blood sample kits and the accompanying DUI Blood Test packet.

How Blood Should be Collected in a DUI Crash Investigation

Collect samples and seal the blood kit as per instructions on form BA2:INS.2 that is included in each kit. A second sample should be collected 45 minutes to an hour after the first sample was collected, following the above procedures. When possible, each blood draw will be photographed to aid in identification of the suspect and person drawing the blood. 

If consent or a warrant has been secured and the suspect is still on the scene upon arrival of the officer, but is to be transported to a hospital for treatment, the officer shall request a paramedic on the scene to collect a sample. Subsequently, a second sample shall be drawn at the hospital using the procedure described above.

If consent or a warrant has been secured and the suspect is not transported to a hospital the officer shall request a paramedic on the scene to collect one sample. If the suspect and paramedic are still on the scene 45 minutes to an hour later a second blood sample shall be drawn on the scene by the paramedic.

The suspect should be kept at the scene as long as needed for the crash investigation, including the obtaining of a consensual blood draw and/or the securing of a search warrant for a blood draw.

Once the investigator is finished with the suspect, they must be released or they may be considered in custody. The investigator must be careful to avoid an in custody situation by detaining the suspect simply to draw the second blood sample.

When drawing blood based on consent or a search warrant, the suspect should not be removed from the scene solely for the purpose of drawing blood, unless the search warrant specifically authorizes removing the suspect from the scene.

The Traffic Homicide Investigator assigned to a fatality or possible fatality will assist the officer in obtaining blood samples. The on-scene Traffic Homicide Supervisor will make the decision whether a second investigator is to be called out to assist at the scene or at the hospital in collecting the blood sample.

Procedures for after the DUI Blood Sample is Obtained

Once the samples are collected the officer will fill out a Fort Lauderdale Police Toxicology Property Receipt (form Z-624) and place the samples in the refrigerator in the Evidence locker room. The samples will be logged in on the appropriate log. The Evidence Section will be responsible for arranging transportation of the samples to the Toxicologist lab.

The on-scene Traffic Homicide Investigator will have the responsibility of completing any necessary follow-up investigation (i.e.: taking of statements, obtaining medical records, etc.)

If there is no Traffic Homicide Investigator on the scene, the officer who investigates a DUI with serious bodily injury will forward a copy of all to the Traffic Homicide office for follow-up. 

Finding an Attorney for Traffic Homicide Investigations in Florida

If you were involved in a traffic crash involving a fatality, then contact a criminal defense attorney. We are experienced in traffic homicide investigations and how officers investigate criminal allegations of DUI or reckless driving. 

We can help you through the process. We help our clients deal with any civil traffic infractions issued in these cases. We can help you deal with your insurance company even if you are considered to be the at-fault driver. We can also help you with any investigation into criminal offenses such as driving with a suspended license, DUI, or reckless driving.

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

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