Woman Facing DUI Manslaughter Three Years After Accident
The details are slim, which tells you a lot about the quality of the case here. In 2019, a woman died after she was struck by a driver on the shoulder of the road. While the article doesn’t say this, the driver must have stopped or else the police would be unlikely to have found out who did this. The incident took place on County Road 33. Nor has the defendant been charged with leaving the scene of the accident involving an injury or fatality. In this case, the defendant is facing two charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. These two charges cannot both be pinned on the same defendant for the same incident.
DUI manslaughter versus vehicular homicide
Vehicular homicide is reckless driving plus a fatality. DUI manslaughter is DUI plus a fatality. When the police cannot prove you were drunk at the time of an accident, they charge you with vehicular homicide because the law does not require proof of inebriation whereas DUI manslaughter does.
In this case, it is unclear to both the police and the public if the woman was intoxicated during the accident. However, the article reports that a toxicology report delivered three years after the accident shows an indication of drug or alcohol content in the driver’s blood.
Analyzing a DUI manslaughter prosecution
As stated above, the prosecution cannot convict the defendant of both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. The reason that vehicular homicide is charged alongside DUI manslaughter is that the police are not certain they can make a DUI manslaughter conviction stick based on the chemical evidence unless the defendant admits that they were under the influence. The vehicular homicide charge only requires evidence of recklessness, which is also difficult to prove without witness reports or video surveillance. In this case, it is likely that the prosecution is concerned that the chemical evidence will be tossed.
While DUI prosecutions take time for the prosecution to collect the laboratory results, the labs are on the clock once the evidence has been gathered. The police department has 30 days to ensure the blood sample reaches the lab and the lab has 60 days to test the blood sample. While investigations stay pending for longer than 60 days, it is unlikely to take 3 years to test a blood sample. That, in fact, is why the prosecution is worried.
On the other hand, most DUI cases have a statute of limitations, but DUI manslaughter does not. Vehicular homicide would have a statute of limitations of 3 years as a second-degree felony. So, the prosecutors were on the verge of allowing the case to lapse if they did not file charges now.
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