Attorneys for DUI Manslaughter

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fight DUI manslaughter cases throughout Florida.

In one recent case, our client was charged with DUI manslaughter after a two-vehicle crash with a fatality in October 2018. Attorney Leslie Sammis filed motions to suppress the following evidence:

  • our client’s medical records which were improperly obtained by a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol and then provided to the State Attorney’s Office; 
  • vials of medical blood seized from the hospital after the execution of a search warrant that contained false and misleading statements; and
  • a blood test reading with a BAC over the legal limit of .08.

On May 21, 2021, just a week before a hearing on the motions, the prosecutor dropped the DUI manslaughter charge (which was the only charge in the case).

Although each case differs, experience matters when defending DUI manslaughter charges in Florida.

The attorney should conduct a thorough investigation, utilize expert witnesses, question all of the state’s witnesses during deposition, and file all viable motions before trial.

Attorney for DUI Manslaughter Charges in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

DUI Manslaughter cases are complicated. You need a criminal defense attorney focused on DUI defense with experience handling serious felony charges.

These cases often involve a blood sample taken by the officer and sent off to the crime lab. These cases might involve notice that the State Attorney’s Office requests medical records through a subpoena duces tecum.

Contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the charges pending against you, possible defenses, and the best way to fight the charges.

Schedule an appointment in our downtown Tampa, Clearwater, or New Port Richey offices.

Call 813-250-0500 today.

Background on DUI Manslaughter Cases

Law enforcement officers investigate the accidents to determine whether the driver was drunk or impaired, drove recklessly, or committed any traffic infraction.

If the officers determine that any driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver is arrested for DUI manslaughter.

Florida law provides incredibly harsh consequences for a DUI manslaughter conviction.

DUI manslaughter under Florida law is a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State prison and a $10,000 fine.

Florida law also requires a minimum mandatory sentence of four-year imprisonment for any person convicted of DUI manslaughter as explained in Section 316.193(3)(c)3, Florida Statutes.

Under Florida Law, DUI manslaughter involves:

  • any person guilty of DUI as defined in Section 316.193(1);
  • who, by operating the vehicle during the DUI, causes or contributes to the death of another.

Penalties in a DUI Manslaughter Case

Under Florida law, the crime of DUI Manslaughter is charged as a felony in the second degree. DUI manslaughter is classified as a Level 8 offense for the severity ranking in Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.

As a result, the scoresheet shows that a conviction for DUI manslaughter required the court to impose a bottom of the guidelines sentence of 124.5 months (or 10.37 years) in prison.

The court can sentence the defendant to more than the bottom of the guidelines. The statutory maximum penalty for this offense is 15 years in Florida State Prison.

Other penalties the court might impose after a conviction for DUI manslaughter might include the following:

  • probation;
  • up to $10,000 in fines;
  • a permanent driver’s license revocation;
  • community service;
  • impoundment of the driver’s vehicle; and
  • DUI school plus all recommended follow-up treatment.

Causation in a DUI Manslaughter Case in Florida

Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a) provides:

If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a motor vehicle driven by or in the actual physical control of a person under the influence of alcoholic beverages . . .

…has caused the death or serious bodily injury of a human being, a law enforcement officer shall require the person driving or in actual physical control of the motor vehicle to submit to a test of the person’s blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content thereof . . . .

The law enforcement officer may use reasonable force if necessary to require such a person to submit to the administration of the blood test.

For the police to have seized the defendant’s blood, they needed a sufficient basis to believe that:

  • he had driven or been in actual physical control of a vehicle;
  • that at the time he drove or was in actual physical control of the vehicle he was under the influence of alcohol; and
  • that the vehicle caused the death or serious bodily injury of some person.

The critical question in most DUI manslaughter cases involving a forced blood draw is whether the “motor vehicle driven by or in the actual physical control of” the defendant “caused the death or serious bodily injury of” the victim in this case.

The question is one of causation.

In State v. Hubbard, 751 So. 2d 552 (Fla. 1999)], the court cited with approval the opinion of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island in State v. Benoit, 650 A.2d 1230 (R.I. 1994) as follows:

Benoit underscores the importance of the causation element: the defendant’s operation of his or her automobile must cause the accident.

There, the court determined that an undisputably drunk driver who, through no misoperation of his own, was struck by another car resulting in the death of another person, cannot be found guilty of DUI manslaughter because the operation of his vehicle did not cause the victim’s death.

Hubbard, 751 So. 2d at 563 (citing Benoit, 650 A.2d at 1234) (emphasis in original). The Hubbard court went on to explain:

When an automobile accident results in serious bodily injury or death, however, a driver is not chargeable with a felony merely because his vehicle was “involved in” the accident.

Felony charges lie only if the driver, “by reason of [his] operation [of his vehicle] cause[d] or contribute[d] to causing” the accident. Fla. Stat. § 316.193(3)(c).

Such causation is routinely established by eyewitness testimony, by scientific evidence resulting in the reconstruction of the accident, or both. See Montes-Valeton, 216 So. 3d at 477. Absent evidence of causation, a driver is chargeable with nothing more than a misdemeanor DUI.


For these reasons, your criminal defense attorney must carefully investigate any evidence showing that you did not cause the crash or the injuries that occurred because of the crash.

Read more about the Intervening Cause Defense. The defense applies if the defendant’s conduct did not cause or contribute to causing the death (or if another unexpected cause contributed to the loss).

Hardship Driver’s License after a DUI Manslaughter Conviction

In addition to the four-year minimum mandatory sentence required by Florida law, certain consequences apply to driving privileges.

Florida Statutes Section 322.271 and 322.28 govern the “business purpose only” or “employment purpose only” hardship reinstatement after a Florida DUI manslaughter conviction.

  • DUI Manslaughter Conviction with Any Prior DUI Conviction:
    • After a conviction for DUI Manslaughter in Florida, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) must impose a mandatory permanent (lifetime) revocation if the driver has any prior DUI conviction.
  • DUI Manslaughter Conviction with No Prior DUI Conviction:
    • Suppose the driver had no prior DUI-related convictions. In that case, the driver might be eligible for hardship reinstatement after five (5) years have passed from the date of revocation and after the period of incarceration ended if the following requirements have been met:
      • The driver has not been arrested for any drug-related offense for at least the five (5) years period before the hearing;
      • The driver has not driven a motor vehicle without a license for at least the five (5) years period before the hearing;
      • The driver has not consumed any drugs or alcohol during the five (5) year period before the hearing;
      • The driver is required to install the ignition interlock device for a two (2) year period; and
      • The driver has completed DUI school and is being supervised under the DUI program for the entire remaining period of the revocation (the failure to report for treatment or counseling will result in the immediate cancellation of the hardship driver’s license).

Statistics on Motor Vehicle Crashes with a Fatality

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving accidents account for more than 10,000 deaths yearly, about one-third of all traffic-related deaths.

In 2019, Florida documented 10,142 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in which at least one driver was alcohol-impaired, representing 28 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.

As a result, 72% of the accidents that year did not involve anyone being impaired by alcohol. Read more about recent DUI manslaughter statistics in Florida.

Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, to discuss any DUI manslaughter case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500 to schedule a free phone consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Back to top

Free Consultation

Submit this form to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.

Our Office Locations

Tampa Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 250-0200

map + directions

New Port Richey Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
7509 Little Rd.
New Port Richey, FL 34654
(727) 807-6392

map + directions

Clearwater Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
14010 Roosevelt Blvd. #701
Clearwater, FL 33762
(727) 210-7004

map + directions

Our Attorneys

Leslie M. Sammis

Leslie M. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Joshua L. Monteiro

Joshua L. Monteiro

Dominique Celerin

Dominique Celerin

Katherine A. Aranda

Katherine A. Aranda

Idalis Vento

Idalis Vento

BBB accredited business rating A+
DUI Defense Lawyers Association - DUIDLA
National College for DUI Defense
National College for DUI Defense state delegate
The Florida Bar Criminal Law Section
NORML Legal Committee - Lifetime Member