A Greenacres-area woman is facing multiple counts of homicide related to the negligent operation of her motor vehicle under the influence of several drugs and alcohol. The woman was found to have opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines (Valium) in her bloodstream at the time of her arrest.
Twenty-four-year-old Bailey Horton faces charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and causing a death while driving without a license. Her 24-year-old passenger died as a result of the crash.
Authorities say that Horton failed to account for a curve coming up in the road at night and her vehicle exited the road, went onto a grassy shoulder, and struck a road sign. Horton was taken to the hospital with injuries that were considered life-threatening at the time. She is being held on $100,000 bail.
DUI manslaughter is charged when a driver who has a BAC of .08 or more causes the death of another individual while negligently operating a motor vehicle. Florida law requires that those convicted of DUI manslaughter serve terms of ten years or more. However, defense attorneys can argue that their clients have no history of DUI or other mitigating circumstances that would avail the judge the opportunity to sentence the defendant to a shorter term. In all cases, the minimum length of that term will be at least four years.
Causing the death of a person while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol will result in a prison sentence. Sentences for DUI manslaughter can go up to nearly 15 years.
Vehicular homicide is usually charged in cases where the defendant cannot be proven to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was operating their vehicle with extreme negligence, recklessness, or in a manner that showed that they had not care in the world about others who might be injured. As an example, doing 60 in a residential neighborhood would be grounds for gross negligence. Vehicular manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years.
It is rare that the two crimes are charged together. Often, police charge vehicular homicide when they can’t prove that the defendant was under the influence at the time of the accident. However, in lieu of proving intoxication, the prosecution must prove that the defendant operated their vehicle with gross negligence, an element not present in DUI manslaughter where it is assumed because the defendant operated their vehicle while drunk.
Lastly, if someone without a license causes the death of another person, that can be charged as its own separate crime. It is a third-degree felony under the law, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
In this case, the prosecution will need to prove the elements of both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide to make both counts stick.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Crimes related to DUI may seem commonplace, but when someone is injured or killed, the sentences become exponentially longer and harsher. It is therefore imperative to have a skilled West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney represent your interests. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today.