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What Charges Can Be Filed When Eluding Law Enforcement?

January 27, 2020

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A tragic accident occurred recently when a teenager was killed in an automobile being driven by her mother in the State of Florida. The mother of the teenager attempted to evade Florida Highway Patrol troopers at speeds that exceeded 100 m.p.h. The incident occurred near Tampa on Interstate 75 at approximately 1:00 A.M. A trooper began to follow the mother, who accelerated her vehicle and made many improper lane changes during the chase. After exiting the interstate, the mother crashed into some trees, leaving one daughter dead and another daughter and herself injured. At the time of the article, it was unknown if the mother was under the influence of alcohol; charges have not yet been filed pending an investigation.

Driver Eluding Law Enforcement
Following an accident of this nature, we will discuss the normal protocol for an investigation of this nature and the burden of proof on the state to prove certain charges. The Miami criminal lawyers at DMT have represented numerous clients involved in similar incidents during the investigation process and up through the prosecution of the case, if in fact charges were filed. After the mother arrived at the hospital, blood was drawn per hospital procedure. This is often referred to as medical blood. It is admissible so long as the person who drew the blood was qualified to do so and that a proper chain of custody was maintained from the mother's bloodstream through the testing at the lab. If the troopers have any reasonable belief the mother was under the influence of alcohol (the most common being alcohol on the breath), the troopers can take what is known as a forced draw (of blood) if they are qualified. Troopers have kits in their cars for just such a reason. There are certain protocols that must be followed by the troopers for the forced draw to be admissible in court. As long as these protocols are followed, both blood results can be used against a defendant. Until the results of both blood draws are finalized, the defendant will not be charged.

Blood Tests for Alcohol Levels
For the State of Florida to charge and successfully prosecute Driving Under the Influence (DUI) manslaughter, they must prove several elements. In a nutshell, they must prove a defendant drove or was in physical control of the vehicle. In the previously mentioned case, the troopers will most likely testify that they observed the mother behind the wheel or, at the very least, found her behind the wheel at the crash scene. Second, they must prove the mother's blood-alcohol level was equal to or greater to a .08. Third, they must prove the mother caused or contributed to the cause of death to the victim. It seems as if the state has a good case with regards to the first and third elements. The strength of meeting the second element will fall on the results of the medical and/or forced blood draw results.

Vehicular Homicide
If the blood result turns out negative, the state can proceed on a different path. They will charge and prosecute the offense of vehicular homicide. The state must prove that a person died, which will not be difficult in this particular case. They must also prove the mother operated the motor vehicle that caused the death. Third, and most importantly, the state must prove the mother operated the vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another person. The state will attempt to prove this element through the testimony of troopers and the dash cameras in their cars. Speeding at 100, making improper lane changes, and exiting and re-entering the interstate will be the evidence on which the state hangs their hat. In sum, the prosecutor assigned to the case will look at the blood results, interview the troopers, and review their dash cameras before making a filing decision. Based on our experience at DMT, we believe the state will charge both offenses if blood alcohol reading is at .08 or above. This strategy will be employed by the state just in case something comes along that allows for the blood to become inadmissible in court. As with all cases, it is impossible to predict the outcome of this case. However, as the mother lost a daughter in the crash, they may be somewhat reasonable in terms of a plea offer.

When you find yourself faced with charges resulting in eluding law enforcement, the criminal defense attorneys at Donet, McMillan & Trontz can help. With a combined experience of over 50 years, we have handled many such cases successfully and getting the best possible outcome for our clients. We're available 24/7 with an attorney on call or reachable by email. If you find yourself in trouble with nowhere to turn, call Donet, McMillan & Trontz at (305) 444-0030 to get the help you need right away. You don't have to face it alone. We're here to help.

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Categories: DUI Manslaughter
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