It was more than a year ago when Terry Dinkins, a 66-year-old Florida resident, got into his vehicle after having “a lot to drink,” as he later admitted to officials. Reports would show he had been driving with a blood-alcohol content level of 0.20, more than twice the legal limit.
Driving the wrong way on State Road 435, Dinkins crashed his Lexus convertible into an oncoming Nissan Altima. The crash killed the Altima’s driver and passenger, Brandi Cole and Silvia Barajas.
Last month, Dinkins was convicted of DUI manslaughter and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The tough penalty is typical for a conviction for DUI manslaughter, considered an extremely grave crime in Florida.
What Constitutes DUI Manslaughter In Our State?
According to Florida Statute 316.193(1) and (3)(c)(3), DUI manslaughter occurs when an individual causes the death of another person while driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance. You can be charged if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are driving or in physical control of the vehicle.
- You are under the influence of alcohol or any chemical or controlled substance to the point where it impairs your normal facilities, or you have a breath- or blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.
- You cause the death of another, either directly or indirectly.
What Are the Penalties for DUI Manslaughter?
In Florida, DUI manslaughter is considered a second degree felony. If you are convicted of DUI manslaughter in this state, you may face the following penalties:
- Minimum of four years imprisonment
- Up to 15 years probation.
- Up to $10,000 in fines.
- Permanent driver’s license revocation.
- Impoundment of your vehicle.
- Completion of substance abuse treatment and course.
What Are the Possible Defenses against DUI Manslaughter?
Though DUI manslaughter is among the most serious and harshly penalized DUI-related offenses, there are several ways to defend yourself against this type of charge and hopefully avoid devastating penalties. We’ve listed some of the most common DUI manslaughter defenses below:
Illegal traffic stop. According to Florida law, an officer may legally stop a vehicle only if there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing a traffic infraction, or probable cause that the driver has broken the law. If the officer conducts a traffic stop without meeting this criteria, all evidence found through the illegal traffic stop will be rendered invalid.
Inadequate probable cause. To legally arrest you, an officer needs to have probable cause to believe you are impaired by alcohol or chemical or controlled substances. If your arresting officer arrested you on insufficient evidence or unreasonable conclusion, then your arrest will be considered illegal, and all evidence obtained because of your arrest will be invalidated.
Improper breathalyzer testing. Breathalyzer tests must be performed in an extremely precise, consistent manner, and breathalyzer machines must meet stringent maintenance regulations. If your arresting officer does not properly conduct a breathalyzer test, or if the machine is not suitably maintained, the breathalyzer results will be invalidated.
If you have been charged with DUI manslaughter, it is essential to get in touch with a skilled Florida DUI lawyer who has a track record of success handling these types of cases. Your attorney will be able to help you understand the charges you are facing and determine the best possible defense for your unique situation. With the help of a seasoned attorney, you may be able to have the DUI manslaughter charges against you reduced – or even dropped altogether.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.