Under Florida Law, you can go to jail for accidentally killing someone in a car accident.
Florida recognizes a few felonies which occur when someone causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle in a manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
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Vehicular Homicide in Florida
Under Florida law, vehicular homicide occurs when a person causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm. The central question is whether the driver knowingly drove in such a manner and under conditions likely to cause death or bodily harm.
Vehicular homicide in Florida is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, they may face more severe penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
To be charged with vehicular homicide, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver’s conduct was both criminally negligent and a proximate cause of the victim’s death. In other words, the driver’s conduct must have created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury and that risk must have led directly to the victim’s death.
Vehicular Homicide without Providing Information or Rendering Aid
Florida also recognizes an enhanced form of vehicular homicide that occurs when the driver in a vehicular homicide fails to provide their information or to render aid at the accident scene. This type of vehicular homicide is punished by up to thirty years in prison.
In Florida, vehicular homicide without providing information or rendering aid is a more serious offense than regular vehicular homicide. The offense is considered a first-degree felony, which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, they may face even more severe penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
To be charged with vehicular homicide without providing information or rendering aid, the prosecution must prove that the driver knew, or should have known, that they were involved in an accident that caused injury or death to another person, and that they intentionally failed to provide their contact information or render aid. This offense is taken very seriously in Florida, and prosecutors may seek to impose harsh penalties on anyone who is found guilty of this crime.
Florida prosecutors can also add a DUI enhancement to a vehicular homicide charge.
In Florida, a DUI enhancement refers to any factor that can increase the severity of a DUI charge and result in enhanced penalties. The most common DUI enhancements in Florida include:
- Prior DUI Convictions: If a driver has been previously convicted of DUI, any subsequent DUI charges they face will be enhanced. The more prior convictions a driver has, the more severe the penalties become.
- High Blood Alcohol Concentration: If a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be .15 or higher, they will face enhanced penalties.
- DUI with Property Damage: If a driver causes property damage while driving under the influence, they may face enhanced penalties.
- DUI with Serious Bodily Injury: If a driver causes serious bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence, they will face enhanced penalties.
- DUI Manslaughter: If a driver causes the death of another person while driving under the influence, they will face charges of DUI manslaughter, which carries severe penalties.
DUI enhancements can result in longer jail sentences, larger fines, and longer license suspensions. Additionally, certain enhancements, such as DUI manslaughter, can result in a permanent revocation of a driver’s license. It is essential to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing enhanced DUI charges in Florida.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer in Orlando
If someone you love was killed in a car accident, or you were a driver who killed someone, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney at JustCallMoe immediately. To schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable fatal car accident attorney, contact us online or call our offices today at 866-225-5663.
Death in a Car Accident FAQs
Can I recover compensation for my injuries?
Yes, you can recover your actual damages, such as medical expenses for the victim. When someone in the accident dies, there are also possible damages for losses relating to that person’s lifetime income, the loss of companionship faced by the victim’s family, and other similar losses.
Will the Driver Face Criminal Charges too?
Yes, it is possible to face criminal charges and to be sued in a civil court at the same time. The victim’s family will need to recover their monetary and other losses and can do so through a civil lawsuit. However, depending on the facts and circumstances, the driver may be charged with some form of vehicular homicide or DUI manslaughter. One kind of action does not preclude the other.
Do I Need a Lawyer When a Death Results from a Car Accident?
If you have lost someone in a car accident or were the driver in a fatal car accident, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer with experience in fatal car accidents as soon as possible. Call us today at 407-974-4926 to schedule a consultation.
Originally published July 23, 2021. Updated May 8, 2023