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When Drinking And Driving Kills A Passenger

Earlier this month, Josh Brent, a Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle, was arrested in Texas and charged with manslaughter when a car he was driving, while allegedly intoxicated, hit a curb and flipped over, killing the passenger, teammate Jerry Brown.

The CDC reports that around one-third of all crash fatalities in the United States each year are due to driving under the influence (DUI) – that’s around 11,000 alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths per year.  Under Florida Law, to convict you of felony DUI, prosecutors have to prove that at the time of the accident your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit, and that the accident was wholly related to your DUI/impairment.

The consequences of a DUI felony manslaughter conviction are very serious.  Brent is being charged with intoxication manslaughter, a 2nd degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.  Although the severity of the charges didn’t stop Brent from being allowed on the sidelines during a recent game, if Brent is convicted, the incident could mark the end of a very promising athlete’s career.

In Florida, some penalties for DUI accidents are as follows:

  • If the accident results in a driver or passenger being seriously injured, it will be classified as a 3rd degree felony.  In Florida, 3rd degree felonies are punishable by a maximum 5 years in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine.
  • If the accident results in a driver or passenger being killed, it is a 2nd degree felony.  In Florida, 2nd degree felonies are punishable by a maximum 15 years in jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Above all, never leave the scene of an accident. If you are involved in a hit-and-run, a 2nd degree felony may be raised to a 1st degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in jail.

If you have been arrested in Florida following an accident attributed to DUI, you will need an attorney who has extensive experience with felony DUI’s including accident reconstruction and forensic toxicology.  In some instances an attorney may be able to  break the chain of causation between the alleged intoxication and the accident.

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