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Florida Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Establish Guilt for DUI Manslaughter

In many cases, people who drive recklessly due to intoxication and ultimately cause another person’s death will be charged with DUI manslaughter. In some instances, though, people may be charged with DUI manslaughter, even if it is not immediately clear that impaired driving caused the accident and subsequent loss of life. In such instances, a DUI defendant may be able to argue that the prosecution cannot establish that there is sufficient evidence to establish guilt. In a recent Florida opinion, a court discussed what evidence the State must produce to establish a driver operated a vehicle while intoxicated, and in doing so, caused a fatal accident. If you are charged with DUI manslaughter, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Florida DUI defense lawyer to evaluate your rights.

The Fatal Accident

It is reported that the defendant was operating his ATV with his son riding on the back. They were on a rural road that had decreased visibility and no shoulder. At approximately 9:00 pm, the ATV tipped into a ditch. The defendant was able to get the ATV back onto the road, and he and his son got onto the vehicle and attempted to start it. A truck began approaching the ATV, and witnesses nearby tried to alert the truck to slow down and advise the defendant and his son to get out of the road.

Allegedly, the truck hit the ATV, killing the defendant’s son and injuring the defendant, who was airlifted to a hospital. The defendant admitted that he consumed alcohol, and a blood test revealed his BAC to be .16. He was charged with DUI manslaughter, and following a trial, was convicted. He appealed, arguing that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish his guilt.

Evidence Needed to Convict a Person for DUI Manslaughter

Under Florida law, to convict a person of DUI manslaughter, the State must prove that a defendant was operating a vehicle while legally impaired and that the operation of the vehicle caused or contributed to a person’s death. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant’s BAC was sufficient evidence that he was impaired at the time of the crash, and that he was in actual control of the ATV when the accident occurred.

Further, the court noted that the State adequately demonstrated that the defendant’s operation of the ATV while impaired contributed to his son’s death. The court explained that a driver’s conduct does not have to be the sole cause of an accident to support a conviction for DUI manslaughter. Instead, the State merely must show that it contributed to the victim’s death. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Speak to a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

DUI manslaughter charges typically carry significant penalties, and it is critical for anyone charged with such a crime to speak to a DUI defense lawyer promptly. Criminal defense attorney Genine Ann Mejia can assess the circumstances surrounding your arrest and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Ms. Mejia through the form online or at (386) 463-0849 to set up a meeting.

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