Clay County man charged with DUI manslaughter months after fatal crash

A Clay County man was arrested and booked on three charges this week, all stemming from a June traffic crash that killed a 24-year-old man.  The driver was accused of driving into a man who was walking his bicycle across an intersection, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This month, he was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI causing property damage and DUI. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. DUI and DUI causing property damage are both misdemeanors and all punishment in misdemeanor cases would be in the county jail, not in state prison. Punishment guidelines in standard Clay County DUI Cases are based on the number of previous DUI convictions or guilty pleas the person has on his or her criminal record.

The charge to be concerned about in this Clay County DUI Case is clearly the DUI manslaughter. Not just because it is a felony, but because it also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. In some Clay County Felony Cases, the state will waive the minimum mandatory as part of a plea agreement but, once the case goes to trial, it’s out of everyone’s hands – including the judge. The defendant in this Clay County DUI Case is now out on bail and likely knew he would eventually be charged with serious felonies in this case.

Even though the crash occurred in June, it is not uncommon for it to take several months, including close to a year, for charges to come. In cases where there is a serious injury or a death, police can take a blood sample from the driver without the driver having to consent. This is different than a regular DUI case where the driver can refuse to take a breath test – though are still penalties that apply. A blood test is mandatory in cases with an injury. The results often take between six to nine months to come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. While a breath test could have been taken at the scene to prove the misdemeanor DUI, it makes sense in cases like this for the state to wait for the blood test and charge the entire case at once. Breath tests are often successfully contested in front of juries in some Clay County DUI Cases, but blood test results are generally viewed as significantly more reliable.  Our Clay County DUI Attorney is well-versed in the policies and procedures police must follow when making a DUI arrest and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to make sure those standards were followed.

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 Clay County DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.