Atlantic Beach woman facing felony DUI charges in May tourist death

Four months after she drove her car onto the sidewalk and ran over a vacationing Wisconsin man, an Atlantic Beach woman was arrested on several serious felony charges.  The woman is accused of driving her Ford Expedition onto the sidewalk, hitting the man and then hitting a palm tree, a parked car and a bus before stopping the car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. She is charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and three counts of DUI causing property damage. Both the vehicular manslaughter charge and the DUI manslaughter charge are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The DUI with property damage charges are misdemeanors and, in this Jacksonville DUI Case, are clearly not the priority for the defendant.

The state often files both a vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter charge in a case where a person is accused of being intoxicated during a crash where a person is killed. And the two charges sound very similar. But, when it comes to sentencing in this Jacksonville DUI Case, there is a distinct difference between the two charges. If someone is convicted of DUI manslaughter, there is a four-year minimum mandatory sentence that must be served. There is no such minimum mandatory that applies in a vehicular homicide case. This is important, especially because minimum mandatory sentences must be served in their entirety. With all other sentences, people typically serve about 85 percent of the sentence – provided he or she stays out of trouble behind bars. Part of the reason the state files both the vehicular homicide and the DUI manslaughter charges is for leverage – holding onto the DUI manslaughter and its minimum mandatory sentence, which can be used to encourage a plea to the vehicular homicide charge.

The timing of the charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case is may seem odd, but it is the norm in these types of cases. In a Jacksonville DUI Case where someone is injured or killed, police take blood from the driver for a more accurate measurement of blood-alcohol content. And while people can refuse to take field sobriety tests or a breath test in a traditional DUI where someone is pulled over, police can take blood without consent. Because of backlogs in the system, blood results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement typically take between four and six months, much like in this Jacksonville DUI Case.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from misdemeanors on up to DUI Manslaughter, and will fully investigate your case to provide you or your loved one with the best information on how to proceed in the case.

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.