Recently, a Florida woman was arrested for DUI manslaughter and child neglect after she allegedly crashed her SUV with four children and another adult in the car. One child, her 3-year-old daughter, died.
Although this is a profound loss this mother will grieve the rest of her life, the law does not allow for this alone to be “punishment enough.” Per F.S. 316.193, DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Most DUI arrests, even those that involve crashes, do not involve deaths. However, courts in Florida take very seriously DUI cases involving minor passengers under 18, even if no one was hurt.
How Florida Handles Cases of DUI With Minor in Car
Florida law considers having a minor in the car at the time of a DUI an aggravating circumstance, which will enhance the minimum mandatory statutory requirements. That means fines will be higher and the amount of jail/prison time one faces will be greater. A conviction will also mean a mandatory ignition interlock devices must be installed on your vehicle for a time – at your own expense – if/when your license is reinstated.
Specifically, the courts can impose the following enhanced penalties if you are convicted of having a minor under 18 was in your vehicle when you were driving/in actual physical control of a vehicle:
- A fine of not less than $1,000 (or more than $2,000) for a first-time conviction.
- Up to 9 months of jail time for a first-time conviction.
- Mandatory ignition interlock devices for at least 6 months (2 years if it’s a second or subsequent conviction).
All of this is in addition to the fact that one could be additional charged with felony child endangerment or neglect. Cases like this can be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) for review of the child’s welfare. If you share custody of your children with an ex (even if it wasn’t your children in the car), this could be the sort of “significant change in circumstance” that a domestic relations judge might consider, ultimately reducing or eliminating your unsupervised time with your kids. A conviction could impact DCF involvement or custody issues, as well as your ability to get/retain your job. Felony convictions can limit your ability to work certain occupations, live in certain places, obtain loans and vote. Further, any arrest, conviction records and mug shots in Florida are public.
How We Can Defend You
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers will fight to help you avoid conviction, particularly on the most serious charges against you. If the evidence against you is weak, we may argue for a dismissal of certain charges. If there are problems with how it was obtained or its relevance, we may seek to suppress it. In DUI cases, we’ll be looking especially closely at how the traffic stop was initiated, blood, breath or urine samples, witness statements and officer testimony. If the prosecutors’ case is fairly strong, we may negotiate a plea deal wherein you agree to plead guilty on lesser charges to help you avoid the most serious consequences.
In the event of a conviction, we can present mitigating evidence that can be used to convince the court to impose the lightest possible sanctions. No defense lawyer can promise their client any outcome for certain, but we can promise that you can rely on our experience in Florida criminal defense. We have knowledge and familiarity with the local courts, processes and power players, as well as a track record of proven success in cases similar to your own.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Citrus County mother’s DUI crash kills her 3-year-old daughter, injures 3 other children, Oct. 11, 2020, WFLA 8
More Blog Entries:
What to Consider Before Hiring a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer, Oct. 15, 2020, Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer Blog