The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating a February crash involving three vehicles in Weeki Wachee that left one man dead.
At this time, authorities claim that three requirements have been met for a DUI manslaughter charge to be filed – a person was killed, police identified a suspect and that suspect tested positive for drugs.
The 19-year-old man accused of colliding with at least three vehicles along U.S. 19 in his minivan is currently awaiting trial on a charge of battery against a law enforcement officer.
According to authorities, the Port Richey man’s engine gave out on Feb. 15 while traveling north along the highway. He allegedly swore at other drivers, kicked a Hernando County Sheriff’s deputy and tried to hit another.
Deputies used a stun gun on the man at least six times and the man was taken to the hospital. Upon his release, he was jailed.
One of the vehicles involved in the collision was a 2004 Toyota Tacoma driven by a 72-year-old man. Authorities claim the accused struck the Toyota, causing it to flip over several times. The 72-year-old died seven weeks later from his injuries.
The assistant state attorney handling the battery charge against the accused said there is a possibility the charge could be amended and turned over to a special prosecutor handling vehicular homicides.
Once the investigation into the February crashes is closed, this prosecutor can recommend a manslaughter charge or apply his own assumptions about the case.
An FHP spokesperson said the crash investigation is pending due to an increased caseload.
Reports indicate that the suspect’s lab results in March indicated there was no alcohol in his system. However, FHP claims a drug analysis conducted in June came back positive.
The accident report alleges that the suspect was closely following the deceased’s vehicle and bumped it, causing the truck to flip while the suspect continued heading north until his engine failed.
The suspect allegedly kicked a female deputy and swung at another deputy before he was restrained.
He was originally charged with one count of battery and two counts of assault against a law enforcement officer. Court records indicate the assault charges were later dropped.
Minutes before the Weeki Wachee crash, the suspect was charged in Pasco County with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident in connection with a hit-and-run accident in Hudson.
DUI manslaughter is a very serious criminal charge, not just an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, it is a second-degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The penalties of a DUI manslaughter charge can be increased to a first-degree felony if you happen to leave the scene of the accident. A conviction for this crime can result in 30 years behind bars and $10,000 in fines. For anyone convicted of DUI manslaughter in the state of Florida, there is a mandatory lifetime driver’s license revocation.
It is very important to acquire legal representation as soon as possible as vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter cases are quite complex. The victim’s family will likely push state prosecutors and the judge to administer the maximum penalties under the law. The Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can carefully comb through the issues with your case and communicate with the State to possibly mitigate the charges against you. We can attack any theories that the prosecution may have regarding your sobriety at the time of the accident. At Whittel & Melton, we can fully protect your rights during all phases of the investigation and trial.
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person in Weeki Wachee, Brooksville, Spring Hill or elsewhere in the state of Florida, you could be struck with DUI manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges. Do not give up hope, contact the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or call us in Hernando County at 352-666-2121. You can reach us statewide and toll-free by dialing 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).