Nearly three months after a crash that killed his friend, a Jacksonville man was arrested on felony charges in connection with the fatal wreck. The man was arrested this month and charged with two serious felonies – DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is also charged with knowingly operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license, but that charge is a misdemeanor and very minor compared to the other charges he is facing. Police said the driver was speeding in a 30 mph zone when the truck went off the curvy road and hit a tree, the newspaper reported. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver had a broken arm and other injuries, the newspaper reported, and tests showed his blood-alcohol level was .23 – nearly triple Florida’s legal limit of .08.
DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are both second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The charges are very similar and it is common for the state to file both in a Jacksonville DUI Case such as this one. There is one significant difference when it comes to sentencing: the DUI manslaughter charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. There is not a minimum mandatory sentence on the vehicular homicide charge – and that may be used by the state as part of negotiations to induce a plea to the manslaughter charge.
The delay from the time of the crash to the actual arrest and filing of charges is typical in Jacksonville DUI Cases. The state was likely awaiting official blood-alcohol results before making the arrest. In Jacksonville DUI Cases that involve injury or death, police can take a blood sample from the driver without his or her consent. This differs from a misdemeanor DUI where a driver can refuse to take a breath test or perform field sobriety exercises – though there are consequences for the refusal. Police said the driver had an odor of alcoholic beverages, showed signs of impairment and that officers found containers of alcohol at the scene of the accident, the newspaper reported. The blood test results significantly strengthen the state’s case on the DUI manslaughter charge, because prosecutors simply need to prove the driver was impaired at the time of the crash.
Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people charged with all types of DUIs – from a first-time, misdemeanor DUI to a serious felony charge such as the above case. There are numerous specific procedures police must follow when making a DUI arrest and our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to make sure those procedures 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 Duval County DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.