Clay County woman charged in 2014 crash that killed one passenger and another’s unborn child

A Clay County woman was charged this month with two counts of DUI manslaughter for her role in a November crash that killed one passenger and the unborn child of another woman riding in her car. Police said she was going 66 mph on a Jacksonville road with a 40 mph speed limit and went over the median, hitting several trees, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One passenger in the backseat was killed, the newspaper reported. The woman riding in the front seat was five-months pregnant and lost her unborn child as a result of the crash, according to the newspaper report.

The defendant in this Jacksonville DUI Case is charged with two counts of DUI Manslaughter. DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In DUI Manslaughter cases, an unborn child is treated the same as a person who is killed in the accident. From a sentencing standpoint, state law requires a four-year minimum mandatory sentence on each count, so the defendant in this Jacksonville DUI Case is likely to serve at least eight years in prison if she pleads guilty to or is convicted of both counts. She is also charged with DUI causing injury for the front-seat passenger, a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison.

The driver was also injured and taken to the hospital following the crash, the newspaper reported. At the hospital, her blood-alcohol level was .25 – more than three times the legal limit of .08. Because the crash involved injuries, the driver does not have to consent for her blood to be taken and tested for alcohol. This is different than in an ordinary Jacksonville DUI Case where a person is pulled over by a police officer and the DUI investigation begins. There are penalties for refusing to take a breath test, but the driver does have the legal right to refuse in those instances. In Jacksonville DUI Cases where there is a death or serious injury, charges typically come two to three months after the crash. That’s due to the length of time it takes for the blood test results to come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Penalties in Jacksonville DUI Cases increase significantly when the crash results in someone being injured or killed. For example, a typical DUI is a misdemeanor with the maximum penalty being six months in jail – though jail sentences are highly unusual in those types of Jacksonville DUI Cases. DUI Manslaughter Cases often involve people who don’t have a criminal background. In this case, the 21-year-old driver does not have a criminal record, but is now facing up to 35 years in prison – likely with a minimum of eight years behind bars.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.