Vehicular Homicide in Florida

Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

Attorney’s Guide to Vehicular Homicide in Florida


Under Sec. 782.071, Florida Statutes, the elements of Vehicular Homicide in Florida are:

  • A person operated a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another person; AND
  • Such driving caused the death of a human being, or the death of an unborn child through injuries to the mother.

To prove a charge of Vehicular Homicide, the State can’t simply show that your driving caused a death, or even that your driving was negligent. The State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your driving was reckless, a higher legal standard consisting of willful and wanton conduct—in other words, acting with intentional indifference for the safety of others when the driver knows his or her conduct is likely to cause great bodily harm or death.

Penalties for Vehicular Homicide in Florida

Vehicular Homicide is a second-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 15 years of prison or probation, and a $10,000 fine.

Offense Severity Level Points Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence
Vehicular Homicide 7 176 111 months (9.25 years) 15 years
Vehicular Homicide (without providing information and rendering aid) 8 194 124.5 months (10 years and 4 months) 30 years

The charge carries a severity level of 7 (or 56 points) under the Criminal Punishment Code. Then 120 points are added because of the victim’s death. Assuming there are no other aggravating circumstances, this translates to a minimum permissible sentence of 111 months (9.25 years) in prison. The judge cannot impose a lesser sentence unless special circumstances exist for what is called a “downward departure” from the minimum sentence.

Moreover, the court has discretion to require you to complete 120 hours of community service at a hospital or trauma center that regularly receives victims of vehicle accidents, on top of any other penalties.

How to Fight a Charge of Vehicular Homicide in Florida

There are several strategies that can be used to challenge the State’s case or prove your innocence:

  • Moving to throw out evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights
  • Show that there is no evidence supporting the charge
  • Show that you have an alibi
  • Exclusion of DUI test results
  • Arguing that reckless driving was due to a medical condition, not negligence
  • Arguing lack of negligence or gross negligence
  • Arguing involuntary intoxication
  • Challenging the causation between your actions and the victim’s death
  • Arguing insufficient evidence to prove vehicular homicide
  • Arguing mistaken identity


What is the difference between vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter?

DUI manslaughter involves a death caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while vehicular homicide involves a death caused by reckless driving, regardless of whether the driver was under the influence.

What is considered reckless driving in Florida?

Reckless driving in Florida is defined as driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Can vehicular homicide charges be dropped?

Yes, vehicular homicide charges can be dropped if there is insufficient evidence, if evidence was obtained illegally, or if there are other legal issues with the prosecution’s case.

What is the role of a defense attorney in a vehicular homicide case?

A defense attorney in a vehicular homicide case will work to protect your rights, challenge the prosecution’s case, and seek the best possible outcome for you.

What is a downward departure in sentencing?

A downward departure is a sentence that is less severe than the minimum sentence recommended by the sentencing guidelines. It can be granted in certain circumstances, such as when the defendant has provided substantial assistance to the prosecution.

Hiring a Vehicular Homicide Lawyer in Central Florida

With so much at stake in the event of going to trial for DUI manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges, you need to act fast. By finding the best criminal defense lawyer to face your charges, you can give yourself the best chance of attaining the best possible outcome in your particular situation. This is exactly the reason we fight for here at Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys PLLC. Call or text us today for a free consultation about your case. 407-476-4111. Contact us today!

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