DUI manslaughter is a serious criminal charge that may lead to a mandatory minimum prison sentence. If you’ve been charged with DUI manslaughter in West Palm Beach, you should know that this type of charge is best handled by a professional DUI attorney. The possible penalties you could face upon a conviction are severe and may include a maximum fine of $10,000 and a maximum period of 15 years in state prison.
Don’t take this second-degree felony charge lightly. Find out how attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel can build your case. Some of the defenses that might be available to you are listed below. The right defense all depends on the specific details of your case. If you’d like a free consultation to learn more about your charge and options for defense, call 561-622-5575.
Improper Traffic Stop
Police officers with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement may not stop a driver for any reason. Instead, they must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is committing a traffic violation, such as driving under the influence, to conduct a traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion may be established by observing the driver’s performance for some time.
When an officer stops an intoxicated driver, they may gather more clues about the driver’s physical and mental state by engaging with and observing their behavior, speech, and physical appearance. If these qualities indicate intoxication, the arresting officer may establish probable cause for a DUI arrest. In the case of DUI manslaughter, the arresting officer must also be able to show he had probable cause linking the driver to a fatal accident.
There are many things that could go wrong during a traffic stop that could lead to a dismissal of your charge. If an officer lacks probable cause for an arrest, your lawyer could argue that the arrest is illegitimate, which may lead to the suppression of any illegally-obtained evidence. If your attorney can prove that the officer did not have grounds to stop your vehicle, this may be a viable defense strategy.
Improper Field Sobriety Tests
A field sobriety test is issued before a DUI suspect is taken to the nearest police station for the breath test that will produce evidentiary results. Field sobriety tests help officers establish probable cause. A driver who performs poorly in field sobriety tests may be asked to submit to a breath or blood test to confirm intoxication.
It’s legal to refuse to take field sobriety tests. But, if you took them and failed, it may be possible for your lawyer to challenge the arresting officer’s observations about your performance.
- The officer is not familiar with your balance and coordination while sober.
- The driver might have a physical disability or injury preventing them from performing well in these tests, making the officer’s observations unreliable.
- The officer might not be qualified to perform field sobriety tests.
- Some of the tests conducted (like reciting the alphabet backwards) might not be admissible in court.
Inadmissible Breath Test Results
Law enforcement officers in Florida rely on tightly-regulated and regularly maintained breathalyzer machines to conduct breath tests that produce results that may be used in court. In addition, the officer administering the test must follow strict guidelines for how to do so. Several things can occur to invalidate breath test results, including:
- The officer failed to observe the suspect for 15 minutes before administering the breath test.
- The officer failed to instruct the suspect to keep blowing during the breath test.
- The officer failed to calibrate the machine properly prior to the breath test.
- The officer failed to read the Implied Consent Law to the suspect.
Furthermore, several health issues and the presence of mouth alcohol can skew the results of your test, resulting in false high positives. If your DUI attorney can prove your test results are unreliable, it may be possible to have your DUI manslaughter case dismissed.
Fighting DUI Charges for Over 25 Years in West Palm Beach
There is no better time to hire a professional DUI lawyer than after being hit with a DUI manslaughter charge. Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has defended DUI charges like DUI manslaughter throughout Palm Beach County for more than 25 years, and thoroughly understands the challenges presented by breathalyzer tests in Florida.
Having led the fight against the Intoxilyzer 8000, the machine DUI suspects breathe into for evidence, he understands what’s at stake in your DUI case. Having handled thousands of DUI cases for his clients, he has experience confronting almost any scenario from the prosecution. Call 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free case evaluation.