A 17-year-old will be charged as an adult after he went full Grand Theft Auto and took the lives of four people including two other teens who were passengers in the vehicle. The vehicle was stolen from the Rapids Water Park and then the teens took it on a joy ride. A blood draw of the driver showed that he was intoxicated on Delta-9 THC, although it may be difficult to determine intoxication from only a blood draw.
Nonetheless, the teen attempted to evade police after they recognized the vehicle was stolen. That is when the teen attempted to run a red light at 100 mph and crashed head-on into another vehicle. Two people in that vehicle died also.
The teen is now facing four counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of DUI manslaughter, one count of driving without a license, and the article doesn’t say if he was charged with grand theft auto.
Understanding the charges
The police, in this case, have decided to charge the teen with both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. This happens when the driver’s conduct is so egregious that it warrants a homicide charge, but when the police aren’t sure if they can make a DUI charge stick. They still have the option of filing a vehicular homicide charge even if the blood draw can’t be used to prove intoxication.
Marijuana stays detectable in the blood for up to 36 hours. In urine, it can be present for up to a month depending on how often and heavily the marijuana user smokes. However, marijuana does not intoxicate users for 36 hours. So it can be difficult for prosecutors to “prove” marijuana intoxication led to a DUI accident.
Instead, they can argue that the driver committed the crime of vehicular homicide which only requires the police to prove reckless driving led to a death. It does not require the police to prove that the driver was inebriated. While manslaughter is harder to prove than homicide, the crime of vehicular homicide has the same penalty structure as DUI manslaughter. It is, however, unlikely that the teen will be convicted on both charges.
DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are both second-degree felonies. As such, the penalty structure requires a judge to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of nearly 10 years in prison. In certain cases, the judge may see fit to diverge from the sentencing guidelines to impose a prison sentence of no less than four years. So on four counts of vehicular homicide, the teen would face a mandatory minimum of 12 years in state prison.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Grand Theft Auto is fun in a universe with no consequences, but once it spills out into the real world, it stops being fun. If you’re facing charges related to vehicular homicide or DUI manslaughter, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your situation and allow us to manage your defense.