West Palm Beach DUI Manslaughter Lawyer
A drunk driving charge is never something a person seeks out. Fortunately, if it is a first offense, Florida law considers it a misdemeanor in most cases and the potential penalties are not that severe. But when a DUI involves a fatal accident, that is a different matter entirely.
Florida classifies “DUI manslaughter” as a serious felony. So even if you are a first offender and never intended to harm anyone, you could be sentenced to 15 years in jail if convicted. Given the severity of such allegations, it is important to work with a qualified West Palm Beach DUI manslaughter lawyer who can provide you with a zealous defense. At the Law Offices of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent clients charged with a range of drunk driving offenses, including DUI manslaughter.
DUI Manslaughter Is a Violent Felony in Florida
Driving under the influence (DUI) is the crime of driving or being in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance that affects a person’s “normal faculties.” With respect to alcohol, a person is legally too drunk to drive if they have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. However, a person can still be charged and convicted of DUI if there is other evidence that they were too impaired to drive.
DUI is normally classified as a misdemeanor for a first conviction. But Florida law makes an exception for cases where a driver under the influence “causes or contributes to” the death of any human being or unborn child. This is considered DUI manslaughter and is automatically a second-degree felony. What this means is that a person convicted of DUI manslaughter faces up to 15 years in prison, 15 years probation, and a fine of no more than $10,000. Unlike misdemeanor DUI cases, a judge must sentence a person convicted of DUI manslaughter to a specified minimum prison term. The court can also impose additional sentencing conditions, including the revocation of a defendant’s driver’s license.
In “hit and run” cases, the state can elevate a DUI manslaughter charge to a first-degree felony. In other words, if a defendant knew–or should have known–they were involved in an accident and failed to stop and “render aid,” they could face substantially higher penalties, including up to 30 years in jail.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
It is crucial to consult with an attorney following a DUI manslaughter arrest. Based on the facts of your case, there may be a number of possible defenses. For example, the state may not be able to prove you were actually driving the vehicle that caused the fatal accident or that you met the legal definition of intoxicated. Or the police may have failed to advise you of your constitutional rights, rendering certain evidence inadmissible in court.
The important thing is not to panic and to speak with a skilled West Palm Beach DUI manslaughter lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., if you need immediate assistance.