Man Faces Two Counts Of Vehicular Homicide, DUI Manslaughter
A man who lost control of his vehicle and ended up killing two of his passengers has been charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter and two counts of vehicular homicide, according to police. While these charges are very similar, there are differences that allow prosecutors to charge both at once, although, often this does not happen. Since the penalty structure of the crimes is the same, and the elements needed to prove these crimes are different, they can sometimes be charged together for various reasons. In this article, we’ll discuss why a defendant might face charges both for DUI manslaughter and for vehicular homicide.
DUI manslaughter versus vehicular homicide—What’s the difference?
DUI manslaughter requires proof that an inebriated individual caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person. Vehicular manslaughter requires proof that a reckless driver caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person. It’s less likely that a person would be convicted of both crimes than it is that they would be charged for both crimes. This happens because the police may not be certain that they can prove inebriation at the time of the accident, but they suspect inebriation caused the accident. If they can’t prove it was inebriation that caused the accident, they can still charge vehicular homicide which does not require they prove inebriation—only recklessness. Hence why police might be interested in charging a defendant with both crimes. They can let the prosecutor sort the rest out at trial.
Can you be convicted of both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide?
No! The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a defendant cannot be convicted of both vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter under the “one death/one conviction” rule. Essentially, the prosecutor will have to pick whichever charge they believe is the strongest and proceed to trial with that. The penalty structure of both crimes is identical, meaning that regardless of what the prosecution chooses, the defendant would face two counts of either DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
If the prosecution chooses to charge DUI manslaughter, they will need to provide chemical evidence that the defendant was drunk at the time of the accident or under the influence of drugs. If they choose to pursue vehicular homicide charges, they will need to prove that the defendant was operating his car recklessly, which means he was not just negligent, but also indifferent to the consequences of his negligence. Both require high standards of proof, but both are easily met, generally speaking. In this case, the prosecution may be waiting for the results of toxicology reports to determine which way they want to go. It would be more difficult for them to prove vehicular homicide than DUI manslaughter.
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The Florida DUI defense attorneys at FL DUI Group represents those charged with DUI in the Orlando area. Call today to set up an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.