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Evidence in Florida DUI Crashes Causing Bodily Injury or Death

As a criminal defense attorney, I am always asked about what types of evidence can be put forward by the accused to show he or she was not the driver of a vehicle involved in a DUI crash causing serious bodily injury or death were the prosecution is alleging that alcohol or illegal drugs played a part in the crime. In other words, the accused DUI driver wants to put forth competent and substantial evidence that he or she was not in control of the motor vehicle at the time of the DUI crash that caused serious bodily injury or death. I am always reminded of my science background on these issues and the term DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid immediately comes to mind for consideration of an affirmative defense.

In today’s modern age of automobile safety, almost every automobile on the road has an airbag system that if properly working will deploy during impact. When the airbag is deployed during a crash, the driver of the vehicle will be touched and on most occasions violently struck by the airbag. The airbag striking the driver will collect very important evidence, specifically DNA from the driver of the automobile.

In Florida, DNA evidence has become a very important tool for not only the prosecutor but also for the experienced criminal defense lawyer in making or breaking a criminal case, including DUI crash cases. DNA transfer evidence is a very important concept that must be fully understood and clearly articulated in pretrial motions and to a prospective juries during a criminal trial, so that the accused may receive an adequate and vigorous defense that he or she was not in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

In pretrial motions, the criminal defense attorney will file a motion with the sitting trial judge to request an order that the airbag first be preserved and thus not be destroyed. The second motion after preservation of the airbag evidence is to get and order from the trial judge to have an independent laboratory test the airbag for DNA. The DNA analysis is then compared to the DNA of the accused and a match or non-match is recorded.

If a non-match is recorded between the DNA found on the airbag and the accused, the presumption is strong and almost conclusive that the accused was not driving the automobile and therefore not in control of it at the time of the crash. This type of evidence can lead to a direct “affirmative defense” to the criminal charge of DUI causing serious bodily or death, which is that the accused was not in control of the vehicle which as shown below is an element of the DUI laws of Florida.

To recap, in order for the State to prove DUI causing severe bodily injury or death, it must show the following elements: (i) the accused must be in actual physical control of the vehicle; (ii) the accused must be under the influence of alcohol beverages, any chemical set forth in section 877.111, or any substance controlled under section 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal facilities are impaired or (iii) the accused has a blood alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or (iv) the accused has a breath alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath and (v) who by reason of such operation causes or contributes to causing the serious bodily injury of a person, as defined in 316.1933, or who by operation causes or contributes to the death of any human being or unborn child is guilty of the former DUI causing severe bodily injury or the latter DUI Manslaughter.

With the above Florida DUI laws in mind, if the DNA does not match the airbag the jury must acquit the accused of the crimes charged in a DUI causing serious bodily injury or death as the accused cannot be shown to be in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the crash. In order for the accused to get this very important affirmative defense and beneficial trial strategy, the accused DUI driver must hire an experienced criminal DUI defense lawyer, who understands DNA.

West Palm Beach DUI Attorney Andrew D. Stine has been vigorously defending all DUI cases for over a decade. Palm Beach DUI Lawyer Andrew D. Stine has trial experience in all DUI matters and has defended all DUI cases including, DUI crashes causing sever bodily injury and DUI Manslaughter cases. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI contact Andrew D. Stine at 561 832 1170 for your free immediate consultation. Hire Stine or Do the Time.

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