Nearly Two Years Later, Orlando Man Charged with DUI Manslaughter
In terms of DUI, DUI manslaughter is just about the stiffest penalty a Florida resident can face. However, it generally doesn’t take nearly two years to charge someone.
Twenty-four-year-old Michael Ramos is now being charged with DUI manslaughter 1.5 years after the accident occurred. When he was pulled over, he was discovered to have a blood alcohol concentration of .14. The legal limit is .08. His SUV was found filled with discarded beer bottles and cans.
The incident took place on February 25th, 2018. Sixty-six-year-old Chia Pao Chang died of complications resulting from multiple traumatic injuries less than a month later. Ramos is also being charged with vehicular homicide. Below, we’ll discuss the difference between DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
Understanding Vehicular Homicide
All murders are homicides but not all homicides are murders. Murder requires murderous intent or an intention to cause harm to someone else. Homicide merely requires that, through an act of negligence, another person’s life was taken.
Between DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter is the more serious charge. As the more serious charge, it requires a higher standard of proof.
Under Florida law, a defendant commits vehicular homicide when they negligently or recklessly operate a motor vehicle in a way that is likely to cause serious bodily harm. The statute can be found in Florida Statutes 782.071. If the individual is likely to have known that the accident occurred and failed to render aid or contact the proper authorities, vehicular homicide can be charged as a first-degree felony which has a mandatory minimum sentence of 9 years.
Understanding DUI Manslaughter
While penalties for DUI manslaughter tend not to be as high as vehicular homicide, there are mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that a judge must follow. By definition, DUI manslaughter is the reckless operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol that takes another individual’s life.
While first-degree vehicular homicide can come with a 30-year prison sentence, the mandatory minimum for DUI manslaughter is 124.5 months which is over 10 years. In some cases, a judge may find cause to reduce the sentence with a downward departure sentence. This requires the judge believe that there are mitigating circumstances in a specific case. Even if the judge does impose a downward departure sentence on DUI manslaughter, the sentence is capped at 4 years minimum.
What’s the Difference?
Vehicular homicide tends to be easier to defend. For instance, the prosecutor must show that you were operating your vehicle in an especially reckless manner that was likely to cause serious bodily injury. In other words, you can simply say that you were speeding or made a routine traffic infraction.
While DUI manslaughter is harder to prove, there are fewer ways to defend against it. You must be able to show that the basis for the DUI charge is faulty, the tests were administered improperly, or the traffic stop was illegal.
Talk to a Florida DUI Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or a related offense, talk to the Florida DUI defense attorneys at the FL DUI Group today. We can help.