I-95 Fatal Crash Ends in DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide Charges in Jacksonville

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have arrested a 33-year-old man and charged him with vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter in the death of a 73-year-old man, The Florida Times-Union reports.

DUI cases in Jacksonville can have obvious consequences, such as embarrassment, possible job loss and problems with family members.But Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers have seen how the consequences can be severe in the criminal justice system as well. DUIs can include jail or prison time, DUI school enrollment and completion, alcohol treatment programs, fines and fees, probation, an ignition interlock device or other sanctions. When injuries or death occur, the penalties can be increased severely.

In this case, according to the news report, the 33-year-old was allegedly driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 in North Jacksonville in the early morning hours of Veteran’s Day. According to police, the man’s Volkswagen sedan struck a Mazda pick-up truck. The collision caused the truck to flip.

The 73-year-old driver of the truck, a man from Central Florida, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck’s driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt, but the driver of the Volkswagen was.

The 33-year-old was charged by troopers with vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. The news story doesn’t indicate what has led troopers to charge him with a drunken driving-related offense, however.

In many cases involving a crash that includes injury or death, law enforcement officers will charge someone with both types of vehicle-related deaths. Many people may look at that and be confused because there was only one death.

But prosecutors more and more are filing both types of charges and it’s being allowed by judges. This lets prosecutors have the opportunity to prove either theory — that the person used a vehicle recklessly to kill someone or that the person was driving a vehicle under the influence and killed a person.

Both charges allow a judge to sentence a person up to 15 years in prison, but DUI manslaughter charges have a four-year minimum mandatory sentence in Florida. That means a person must serve four years, while vehicular homicide is still a serious charge, but is considered more of an accident.

Unfortunately for drivers, this procedure allows the state to show either theory of prosecution, giving them the upper hand at trial. A jury can choose either charge and if they choose both, the state will likely then drop the vehicular homicide charge because of the minimum mandatory sentencing rule.

This is why taking an aggressive approach to defending against these charges is so important. The penalties are high and the consequences dire. When you’re talking about a person dying and another person’s liberty at stake, an aggressive defense lawyer must be hired to ensure justice is done.

The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

More Blog Entries:

State v. McCave Shows Over-Aggressive Nature of DUI Investigations in Jacksonville: October 27, 2011
Jacksonville DUI Breath Testing Being Challenged as Unconstitutional: October 19, 2011
Additional Resources:

FHP make arrest in North Jacksonville head-on collision that killed 1, by Clifford Davis, Nichole Hernandez, The Florida Times-Union

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