A Palm Beach County man accused of DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal bicycle accident received a sentence of 12 years behind bars, following his conviction on the latter charge this summer. He’d been acquitted of DUI manslaughter, the Palm Beach Post reported.
This case was in the headlines for a number of reasons, most obviously because it involved the death of a 65-year-old bicyclist. However, there was more to it. Initially, the defendant’s girlfriend, who had been in the passenger seat, agreed to tell officers at the scene that she had been the one driving. The pair reportedly made the decision due to the fact her boyfriend had a prior conviction for driving with a suspended license, and they knew whatever sentence was to be received was harsh. She spent more than a year on house arrest before providing prosecutors with evidence – both emails and text messages shared between the pair – that indicated his alleged guilt.
The DUI manslaughter charge was a difficult one to prove from the outset because responding officers never tested defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration at the scene of the crash, given that they did not believe him to be the driver. However, a change in Florida law pursuant to hit-and-run crashes means drivers who flee the scene of a deadly crash, per F.S. 316.027, face the same minimum mandatory sentence – four years – as someone convicted of DUI manslaughter, per F.S. 316.193. The change in law was meant to serve as an incentive to possibly impaired drivers to remain at the scene of serious crashes and render aid, as required by law. Continue reading