A Jacksonville man still in the hospital was arrested for DUI manslaughter and other charges after being involved in an accident that caused the death of a St. Johns County deputy. According to reports following the crash, the suspect was driving the wrong way on State Road 9A in Jacksonville and had been drinking prior to the crash. The reports indicate that the suspect submitted to a breathalyzer test that showed his blood alcohol level to be almost twice the legal limit of 0.08.
As most people know, if a person drives while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his normal faculties (i.e. vision, judgment, coordination, balance, speech, etc) are impaired, he/she can be charged with DUI, which is a misdemeanor crime. Although a first or second DUI will always be a misdemeanor, that crime has reached the point where the penalties can be quite severe including jail, probation, community service, a large fine and a suspended license.
However, the charge of DUI can also be a felony charge in some situations and result in much more serious penalties such as significant prison time. If a person gets a third or fourth DUI, the State may have the option of charging the defendant with a third degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, the State in the Jacksonville, Florida area typically will still charge those cases as misdemeanors.
However, if a person is alleged to be intoxicated and involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death to another, that person will almost certainly be charged with a felony- either DUI with serious bodily injury or DUI manslaughter. These are very serious cases for which the State often recommends significant jail or prison time.