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West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Vehicular Homicide with DUI and Strict Liability

DrinkKeys2-300x199Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causing or contributing to the death to another is a strict liability crime in the State of Florida. The strict liability portion of a DUI charge means that even if the driver of the vehicle is not at fault for the act that causes or contributes to the death of another, if she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impairs her normal faculties, she is criminal responsible for the death of the other if she was in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash. Examples of this strict liability crime will really make people wonder if it is fair.

In one criminal matter a driver of a vehicle was stopped at a red turn signal. The red signal turned green and the driver proceeded to operate his vehicle around the right turn. A motorcycle ran through the steady red signal and struck the side of the turning vehicle that had the right of way with the green light. The motorcycle rider was unfortunately killed at the scene. When a law enforcement officer arrived, they noticed a smell of alcohol coming from the breath and or person of the driver of the vehicle that was involved in the crash that killed the motorcycle rider. The officers also wrote the driver’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot. As a result, the automobile driver was forced to provide a blood sample at a local hospital and the sample showed a level of alcohol in excess of .08.

Any blood alcohol level higher than .08 in Florida is considered a presumption of guilt, in that the person is presumed impaired and not fit under the law to operate a motor vehicle. In this case, the agency that showed up to conduct the investigation was the Greenacres Police Department. The police vehicle did not have a camera mounted inside the dash board, so the road side test following the investigation were not caught on video, but memorialized in the officer’s report.

The driver of the vehicle who had the right of way due to having a green light was charged and convicted under Florida Law for “Homicide-vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”

Palm Beach County has recently witnessed a spike in arrest in “homicide-vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol cases.” It is very important to remember that if you are not the cause of the accident, you still can be arrested and convicted for killing another person if you drink and drive an automobile with a blood alcohol level greater than .08 or while your normal facilities are impaired. If you are involved in an accident involving the death or injury of someone, what should you do?

When Police or Law Enforcement Officers arrive at a crash scene to investigate the death or injuries of another person, DO NOT PROVIDE any information to the Investigation officers. Tell the officers “I have an Attorney. My Lawyer is Andrew D. Stine.” Why is it important not to speak to the police?

First, the officer did not witness the accident so he has no firsthand knowledge of what happened. Second, why would you provide information to someone, like an arresting officer, who is adverse to your freedom? Third, the officer will have no relevant information or less relevant information in his police report if you, the driver, tell the officer you want a lawyer because all questioning must STOP as soon as you request a lawyer. Fourth, the officer cannot put you behind the wheel, meaning that you are in fact the driver involved in the crash, unless you tell the officer such information because the officer did not witness the crash. Lastly, and most importantly, your mother taught you better than to speak to strangers!

Remember, if you are involved in an automobile crash it does not matter whose at fault, if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol you will be arrested and facing charges of homicide—vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the crash.

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