DUI Accident

DUI

What Happens When Someone Gets Killed in a DUI Accident?

According to the CDC, close to 28 people in the US die every day in vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver or DUI – 1 death every 51 minutes. The total annual cost of crashes related to alcohol is over $44 billion.

DUI Accident

In 2015, there were 10,265 deaths caused by alcohol-impaired car accidents, accounting for nearly 29% of all traffic-related fatalities in the country. The same year, there were nearly 1.1 million arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics – that is 1% of the whopping 111 million episodes of alcohol-impaired driving that are self-reported among adults each year in the US.

A DUI accident that causes a fatality has tragic consequences for all parties involved and their families. However, it is the specific factual circumstances that surround the fatality that have an impact on what type of criminal charges are ultimately filed.

Charges You Could Face for a DUI Fatality

Each state has different laws, however, many states have a number of different types of charges that could apply to a DUI that involves a fatality – these charges depend on the circumstances of the accident. These charges might include the following:

  • DUI manslaughter
  • “Aggravated” DUI
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Negligent homicide
  • Murder

Some statutes are specific to unlawful killings that are committed by drunk drivers. Although they can be used for DUI cases, other statutes are more generally applicable to all types of homicides. You should consult a Florida DUI attorney when it comes to DUI arrests involving a fatality.

How a DUI Fatality Charge is Different

Unlike many other crimes, DUI, in most cases, is a strict liability offense. This means that the prosecution does not have to prove the defendant’s mental state. In other words, the prosecution can get a conviction by simply proving that the person was driving while he or she was under the influence.

On the other hand, to establish a charge of vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution usually has to show more than just simple or careless negligence. In most cases, it must be proven that the defendant was grossly negligent or reckless.

To get a conviction for DUI murder, a prosecutor generally must convince the judge or the jury that the defendant was driving with a “conscious disregard for human life” or extreme recklessness.

The distinctions between mental states are not always clear. For example, the line that divides extreme recklessness and grossly negligent can be subtle and, in many cases, it is difficult to differentiate gross negligence from simple negligence. However, there are certain factors that a judge or jury might look at in determining the mental state of a defendant, such as:

  • The level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and impairment of the defendant
  • The defendant’s manner of driving
  • Whether the defendant was told by someone that he or she was too drunk to drive

Generally, depending on how egregious the defendant’s conduct was, he or she is more likely to be convicted of a serious charge like murder.

If you have been arrested or charged with driving under the influence, it is important to seek the help of a judicious DUI lawyer. You should keep in mind that a DUI has serious consequences, especially when someone was injured or killed. Get the best DUI attorney to help you in deciding the best course of action to deal with your situation.

If you or a loved one was in a DUI accident resulting in a fatality, you should immediately seek the legal expertise of the Stokes Law Firm. Call us at 727-954-0186 to make an appointment for a free consultation.

Additional Reading:

Florida’s DUI Punishment is Costly

The Effect of Medical Marijuana on Florida DUI Cases

DUI

DUI

Why Are the First 10 Days After Being Arrested for DUI So Important?

If you are arrested for DUI, the clock is ticking. You only have a period of ten days from the date of your arrest to take action and try to save your driver’s license.

DUI

How long your driver’s license is suspended depends on if you took the breath test or if you refused it, and if you did submit to a test and the reading was .08 percent or higher.

If you refused the breath test, then your license is going to be suspended for a period of one year. If you took the breath test and the reading was .08 percent or higher, your license is going to be suspended for a period of six months.Also, if you have had your license suspended in the past for DUI, you will face a suspension period of 18 months.

What Happens in the 10 Days After a DUI Arrest?

You will have three options during the initial 10 days after you are arrested for DUI. These options include:

  1. Take no action and allow the suspension to go into effect. You will lose your ability to drive for the mandated period of time.
  2. Request an Administrative Review Hearing. This is done to determine if the officer had sufficient probable cause to actually arrest you for the DUI. After you have requested this administrative review hearing, you will receive a permit that expires in 45 days. This provides enough time for the hearing. If the hearing finds there was no probable cause, then the suspension of your license will be overturned. However, if there was probable cause, you will receive a suspension period of 30 days (if the breath test was over .08 percent) or a suspension of 90 days if you didn’t submit to the breath test before you are able to apply for the Business Purposes Only license.
  3. You can also waive your right to the Administrative Hearing and be eligible for the BPO license right away. This is only offered to those who have never received a DUI conviction or DUI administrative suspension in the past. If you want to be eligible for this option, you need to enroll in a DUI School and provide proof of this enrollment to the DHSMV before receiving the BPO license.

The Importance of Legal Representation for a DUI

If you are arrested for DUI, it is best to consult with an attorney right away. They can review the facts of your case and help you determine the best course of action for your particular situation. The consequences you face after being arrested can be severe, so it is best to seek legal representation as soon after the arrest as possible.

If you need help or have questions, contact the DUI law attorneys at Stokes Law Firm by calling 727-954-0186. Being informed and knowing your rights is the best way to ensure you end up with the best possible outcome for your situation.

Additional Reading:

Florida’s DUI Punishment is Costly

The Effect of Medical Marijuana on Florida DUI Cases

FLORIDA DUI CASES

Florida DUI Cases

THE EFFECT OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA ON FLORIDA DUI CASES

Even though Florida allows for the medical use of marijuana, it is not looking upon any other marijuana use as anything other than a crime. In 2016, medical marijuana use was approved, but the laws on possession, trafficking, and illegally transporting were not affected at all.Marijuana can play a big role in impairing one’s ability to drive. A study in Washington State, which has legalized the drug, showed that more fatal crashes involving marijuana impaired drivers have occurred since passing the law legalizing the substance.

If a person is found to have less than 20 grams in their possession, it is a misdemeanor that may get the individual a year in jail. Over 20 grams and up to 25 pounds will get a possible five year sentence. Over 25 pounds and the charge will be trafficking, which carries mandatory sentencing based on how much weight was found.

Marijuana DUI in Florida

The laws on driving under the influence of marijuana are the same as those for alcohol impaired driving, and the subsequent punishments for a DUI due to marijuana are the same. A first offense and the driver gets a $500 to $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Second, third, fourth, and fifth offenses all carry the same stiff penalties as an alcohol related DUI.

The marijuana user accused of a DUI may be caught in a similar way to other DUI suspects. First, a person who is pulled over at a roadblock by officers looking for impaired drivers may be asked to submit a blood sample if marijuana is smelled in the car, just like they ask someone smelling of alcohol to submit to a breathalyzer. Another method of bringing DUI charges occurs when police find a small amount of marijuana in the car, and then request a blood sample.

Marijuana use and alcohol use are not quite the same when it comes to influence or staying power. Marijuana can be found in the bloodstream for up to 8 days in a person using the drug for the first time. After using the substance 2 to 4 times a week, the blood stream will still reveal some THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) from 11 to 18 days after the last use. The more a person ingests marijuana, the longer it takes to leave the system.

Medical Marijuana and DUIs

So what about the driver who is taking medical marijuana legally for a medical condition? The law is still clear: If the person recently used marijuana, its best that they do not drive. But in the supposition above, the person using medical marijuana or who has it in his car can still be asked to take a blood test – and refusal to take that test is against the law, punishable by up to a year in jail. Florida is an implied consent state, meaning that by driving a car you are consenting to take a blood or breathalyzer test before you are even stopped.

These scenarios where someone may be stopped and given a drug test can be a source of serious trouble for the medical marijuana user. The staying power of marijuana in the bloodstream combined with the implied consent rule makes it easier for those submitting to the test to be charged with driving under the influence, even if they hadn’t smoked in days.

Talk to an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer

The Stokes Law Firm is experienced in DUI defense in Florida. Call us today at  727-954-0186 and schedule a consultation, office in St Petersburg and Gainsville Florida.