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Work with an Experienced Former Prosecutor

A DUI accident is an extremely serious and stressful situation as is, but this is especially true when the accident leads to the serious bodily injury or death of another person. At Buda Law, we understand the gravity of such a situation and are here to provide the legal support you need.

Led by experienced criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda, our team is dedicated to offering compassionate, comprehensive legal representation. Leveraging our knowledge of DUI laws and the Florida criminal justice system, we develop strategic defenses tailored to the unique aspects of your situation.

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI manslaughter, it’s important to begin building your defense as soon as possible. Call Buda Law today.

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For a free consultation with an experienced DUI manslaughter defense attorney in Tampa, Florida, call Buda Law at (813) 322-2832 or contact us online today.

What is DUI Manslaughter?

DUI manslaughter refers to the crime of causing the death of another person while driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To be considered driving under the influence means operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit, which is 0.08% for adults and 0.02% for anyone under the age of 21.

DUI manslaughter is a serious criminal offense and is considered a felony in Florida, which carries severe legal consequences, including lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and the revocation of driving privileges. It’s a distinct charge from a standard DUI and carries harsher penalties due to the resulting loss of life.

DUI Manslaughter Florida

Florida DUI Manslaughter Statute

The laws governing driving under the influence of Florida can be found under § 316.193 of the Florida statutes. § 316.193(3)(c)(3) of this statute states that anyone who drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident that results in the death of any human being or unborn child commits a felony in the second degree. 

It also states that if the accused knew, or reasonably should have known, that the accident occurred and failed to stop and provide information and render aid to the victim, the offense is increased to a first-degree felony.

Manslaughter vs. DUI Manslaughter in Florida

Under Florida law, both DUI manslaughter and the general offense of manslaughter involve the killing of another person through an act of negligence or recklessness that demonstrates a complete disregard for human life. However, manslaughter in and of itself does not involve the specific element of driving under the influence. As such, this charge can cover a wide range of behaviors not related to the use of a vehicle or substances.

Vehicular Homicide vs. DUI Manslaughter in Florida

The difference between vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter in Florida also centers on the specific circumstances and the driver’s condition at the time of the incident. 

Vehicular homicide, sometimes referred to as vehicular manslaughter, involves the killing of another person or unborn child due to the operation of a vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Recklessness in this context does not necessarily involve the influence of alcohol or drugs. Instead, it focuses more on the manner in which the vehicle was driven, such as excessive speeding, aggressive driving, or violating traffic laws in a way that indicates a reckless disregard for human life. Meanwhile, DUI manslaughter charges hinge on the proof of impairment at the time of the accident.

DUI Manslaughter Charges in Florida

Required Elements For DUI Manslaughter Conviction

In order to be convicted of DUI manslaughter in Florida, the prosecution must prove several key elements beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements include:

  • The accused person must have been driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the incident. 
  • The person’s normal faculties were impaired due to being under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substance
  • It can be proven if the accused had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, or a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath.
  • The operation of the vehicle directly caused or contributed to the death of another person or an unborn child

It’s important to note that the death does not need to occur immediately at the scene but must be a direct result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

What Happens After a DUI Manslaughter Arrest?

After an arrest for DUI manslaughter in Florida, the legal process unfolds in several critical stages, starting with the initial arrest and booking. Following this, the accused typically faces a first appearance in court within 24 hours. Under new pre-trial detention laws, DUI manslaughter is classified as a dangerous crime, which can significantly restrict the possibility of bonding out pending trial.

As the case moves forward, pre-trial proceedings begin. This phase involves the exchange of evidence between the defense and prosecution, known as providing discovery, and can include witness depositions, the gathering of forensic evidence, and the submission of official reports. 

During this time, attorneys for both sides may file various pre-trial motions. These motions can challenge the legality of the evidence (such as the way field sobriety tests were conducted or the accuracy of breathalyzer tests), question procedural compliance, or seek to dismiss charges if the evidence does not support the prosecution’s claims. 

The outcomes of these motions can significantly influence the direction of the case, potentially leading to plea negotiations or proceeding to DUI manslaughter court, aka a formal criminal trial. 

Penalties for DUI Manslaughter in Florida

Florida DUI Manslaughter Sentence

The offense of DUI manslaughter is categorized as a Level 8 offense under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. (See our Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet.) As such, DUI manslaughter sentencing is typically very harsh, reflecting the gravity of the consequences of driving under the influence resulting in a death. Here are some key points regarding Florida’s DUI manslaughter penalties:

  • Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Under Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, DUI manslaughter carries a mandatory minimum term of at least four years in prison. 
  • Sentencing Range: As a second-degree felony, the offense can generally result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years. 
  • Fines: In addition to imprisonment, a DUI manslaughter conviction can result in up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Driver’s License Revocation: Conviction for DUI manslaughter results in a mandatory permanent revocation of the driver’s license by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Of course, the actual sentence for DUI manslaughter that a defendant faces will be influenced by various factors, including the presence of aggravating circumstances (like a particularly reckless manner of driving or a very high blood-alcohol level), the defendant’s criminal history (including any prior DUI convictions), and mitigating circumstances such as the defendant’s level of remorse and cooperation with law enforcement. 

Additional Consequences

Beyond the primary penalties of prison time and fines, a conviction for DUI manslaughter in Florida can also carry a number of additional repercussions, often aimed at rehabilitation and preventing future offenses. Some of these include:

  • Substance Abuse Course: Offenders must complete a DUI program/substance abuse treatment course designed to educate them about the risks and consequences of impaired driving.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: The court may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle operated by the convicted person. The length of time this must be installed depends on whether or not you have had any prior convictions. 
  • Points on Driving Record: DUI manslaughter conviction leads to points being added to the offender’s driving record. These points can result in higher insurance premiums and may even influence the reinstatement of driving privileges.
  • Community Service: This is also a common requirement, intended to provide an opportunity for offenders to contribute positively to society while reflecting on their actions.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: This involves the temporary confiscation of the offender’s vehicle by authorities. 
  • Other Consequences: The individual may also face other legal and social consequences, including civil lawsuits for damages from the victim’s family and significant personal and professional stigma.
Tampa DUI Manslaughter Defense Attorney

DUI Manslaughter Hit and Run Penalties

Florida’s penalties for DUI manslaughter are already severe, but they are further enhanced if the offense involves a hit and run element, meaning the driver leaves the scene of the accident without providing their information or rendering aid. A person convicted of such a serious criminal charge faces a first-degree felony and a maximum potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison. 

The addition of the hit and run element not only increases the legal penalties but also affects how the case is viewed by prosecutors and the court, often resulting in a less favorable outcome for the defendant due to the perceived lack of responsibility taken after the incident.

Can You Obtain a Hardship License After DUI Manslaughter?

Despite the permanent revocation of an offender’s driver’s license, there is a possibility to apply for reinstatement of their driving privileges through a hardship license. A hardship license is a restricted license that allows individuals to drive for “business purposes only,” such as commuting to work, school, or necessary household duties, under specific conditions. Unfortunately, obtaining a hardship license after DUI manslaughter convictions is often a complicated and highly regulated process. 

Obtaining a hardship license in Florida can only occur after serving a specific period of the revocation without any driving privileges. For DUI manslaughter, the offender must wait at least five years before they can apply for reinstatement. However, this only applies if there is no prior DUI conviction.

After the mandatory five-year period, the individual can apply to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) for reinstatement on a hardship basis. This application process includes:

  • Completing DUI school and remaining in a DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period.
  • Not consuming any alcohol or controlled substances during the revocation period and being subject to random testing.
  • Providing proof of completion of any treatments recommended by a DUI program.
  • A hearing before the DHSMV, where the applicant must demonstrate that they do not pose a safety risk to the public and that their inability to drive causes significant hardship.

Approval of a hardship license is not guaranteed and depends on the specific circumstances of the case, the individual’s behavior during the revocation period, and the discretion of the DHSMV.

Tampa DUI Manslaughter Attorney

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Manslaughter

Facing DUI manslaughter charges in Tampa can be scary, overwhelming, and confusing. That’s why it is highly advisable that those facing these charges equip themselves with a skilled criminal defense attorney to provide essential guidance and representation through every step of the process. 

Given that DUI manslaughter carries significant penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and permanent license revocation, a DUI manslaughter attorney can critically assess the evidence, challenge the prosecution’s case, and negotiate for lesser charges or reduced sentencing. 

Additionally, an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney will be well-versed in procedural nuances and can ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout pre-trial motions, the trial, and, if necessary, the appeals process. They also have the negotiation skills and legal knowledge it takes to handle plea bargains effectively and advocate for alternatives such as rehabilitation or diversion programs

DUI Manslaughter Defenses

In defending against a DUI manslaughter charge, a criminal defense attorney may employ several strategies to challenge the prosecution’s case, particularly focusing on areas where there might be weaknesses or procedural errors. Here are some of the defenses that might be used:

  • Insufficient Probable Cause: Your attorney may argue that law enforcement officers did not have sufficient probable cause to initially stop the vehicle or arrest the defendant.
  • Improper Field Sobriety Tests: The defense might argue that the field sobriety tests were conducted improperly, making the results unreliable. This can involve questioning the training and qualifications of the law enforcement officer who administered the test or highlighting environmental and physical factors that could have affected your performance.
  • Inaccuracies in Breath Alcohol Testing: This might involve pointing out flaws in the calibration and maintenance of the breathalyzer device, or arguing that certain physiological conditions or external factors skewed the results.
  • Faulty Blood Alcohol Testing Procedures: The defense might also challenge the procedures used for blood testing, including the handling, storage, and analysis of the blood samples.
  • Reasonable Doubt Defense: This defense may include demonstrating inconsistencies in witness testimonies, presenting alternative explanations for the evidence, or highlighting the lack of direct evidence linking your alleged impairment to the accident.
  • Violation of Rights: If there were any violations of your legal rights during the arrest, detention, or evidence collection processes, your criminal defense attorney will use these violations to challenge the admissibility of evidence or seek to have charges dismissed.
Tampa DUI Manslaughter Lawyer

Andrew Buda’s Experience Handling Florida DUI Manslaughter Cases

Tampa criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda and his dedicated legal team at Buda Law are highly experienced in representing clients charged with DUI related offenses in the Tampa area, including serious felony DUI cases such as DUI manslaughter. To successfully defend against a DUI manslaughter case requires an aggressive approach as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the law, both of which the criminal defense attorneys at Buda Law are ready and willing to apply. 

Attorney Buda’s dedication to his clients and his understanding of both the legal and personal repercussions of DUI offenses ensure that he provides a solid defense aimed at achieving the best possible outcomes, regardless of the case’s challenges. This, along with his experience and meticulous attention to detail, make him a reliable advocate for those facing significant legal battles in DUI manslaughter and other related criminal charges in Tampa, Florida and the nearby areas. 

Tampa, Florida DUI Manslaughter Defense

Facing Tampa DUI Manslaughter Charges? Call Buda Law ASAP

If you or someone you love is facing a DUI manslaughter charge in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, or the surrounding areas, don’t face this challenging time alone. Reach out to an experienced Tampa DUI attorney at Buda Law right away. You can rest assured knowing we have the experience, resources, and connections within the Florida legal system to secure the best possible result for your DUI case. 

Contact our office at (813-322-2832) or fill out our online intake form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today. 


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