According to Florida news reports, a 21-year-old Land O’ Lakes man was struck by a Port Richey man’s truck in the early morning hours.
Florida Highway Patrol has charged the 73-year-old driver with Felony DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, Misdemeanor DUI, DUI with property damage and Refusal to submit to a breath test. The defendant was being held in the Pasco County, FL Jail.
The victim was allegedly crossing the road without the benefit of a crosswalk. This fact did not escape the Florida Troopers as they have been quoted that the victim “failed to use a crosswalk while crossing the road and improperly crossed State Road 54.”
How this accident happened will play a vital role in the defendant’s case as although the cause of the accident is in no way a defense to misdemeanor DUI or DUI with property damage. Causation, is in many ways, a defense to DUI with Serious Bodily Injury or DUI Manslaughter, as Florida law requires a nexus between the alleged criminal conduct (here DUI) and the victim’s injury or death.
As an example, most recently, NFL fans watched Cleveland Browns’ receiver Donte Stallworth negotiate a plea prior to being tried for DUI Manslaughter in Miami Beach, Florida. Both law enforcement and the defense attorneys involved knew that despite Mr. Stallworth’s alleged impairment, the accident that took the life of a man on his way home from work, was arguably unavoidable due to the path taken by the victim.
Better stated, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1999 in State v. Hubbard, that prosecutors will fail to meet its burden of proof to demonstrate causation where the accident producing the death or serious bodily injury was completely unavoidable.