Florida driving under the influence arrests are not uncommon. As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I have handled numerous Jacksonville DUI cases and criminal cases in St. Johns County and Clay County FL. Most Florida DUI cases are misdemeanors. If there is serious bodily injury or death, the driver will face felony charges and a possible prison sentence. When people are arrested for drinking and driving and facing criminal charges, they are often worried about a Florida drivers license suspension. However, the penalties can be much worse than a suspended Florida drivers license.
The only difference between a Jacksonville DUI charge and a DUI with serious bodily injury are the injuries sustained. The only difference between a basic drunk driving case and a DUI manslaughter is a dead body. The elements of the crime are exactly the same with the exception of the result. It is a cause and effect scenario. You may not be able to control the effect, but you can control the cause. It is terrible to see a productive citizen go to prison over a Florida DUI manslaughter or serious bodily injury case. It happens to good people.
I read an article today about a St. Johns county driving under the influence case. Trevor Wayne McMullen is 45 years old and a resident of Orange Park FL. He “entered a no-contest plea on one count of vehicular homicide in relation to a Jan. 27, 2011, wreck on County Road 210 that killed David Lee Darnell, 39, of Atlantic Beach.” Judge Michael Traynor is a St. Johns County Circuit Court Judge. He sentenced McMullen “to 10 and a half years in prison Monday for a fatal DUI crash more than two years ago that killed a father of four young children.” Because this DUI was a second-degree felony, he could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in the Florida State Prison. “McMullen will receive credit for 535 days served in the county jail. His driver’s license is permanently suspended.”
The St. Augustine record article that I read is “Man sentenced to more than 10 years in fatal DUI crash.” The article did not give too many details about the evidence against McMullen. It did state, “Reports from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at the time of McMullen’s arrest said he had a large amount of narcotics. In court Monday, he was also said to have marijuana in his system.” Controlled substances can be used to convict a person of driving under the influence in Florida. You must be under the influence of a controlled substance to the point that your normal faculties are impaired. Drugs can stay in your system for days. Drugs may be found in your system well after the effects of the drugs have worn off. When a person is convicted of a Florida DUI due to drug intoxication, the state attorney really needs to bring forth evidence that the driver was under the influence of those drugs at the time he or she was driving. I do not have access to the reports, but the evidence against McMullen could have been the reason why he entered a plea of no contest to the charge without going to trial. This is pure speculation.
This case shows how a Florida driving under the influence case can escalade from a misdemeanor charge to a very serious felony.