No Charges Filed In Fatal Pedestrian Crash
Earlier this Summer a woman in her vehicle allegedly struck a pedestrian and then fled the scene of an accident. That woman will likely be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident involving death, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison, and carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of four years.
Now, in a completely different case, we can explore the opposite result. Two vehicles were involved in a crash that killed a pedestrian and after the evidence was submitted to the Office of the State Attorney (SAO) office, the SAO declined to pursue charges against either driver. However, one of the drivers was cited for failing to yield the right of way.
In this case, a white SUV pulled out from a gas station as another vehicle was coming. The vehicle swerved to miss the SUV, but ended up striking the pedestrian. The pedestrian (a woman) was crushed under the weight of the second vehicle, and first responders had to remove the woman from under the vehicle.
Why were no charges filed?
A citation was issued to the driver who pulled out of the parking lot for failing to yield the right of way to traffic. However, the driver was not charged with the woman’s death. In order to prove vehicular homicide, the police must establish that the driver’s negligence goes above and beyond a simple traffic citation. Even speeding isn’t enough to prove culpable negligence which must be established in a vehicular homicide case. Culpable negligence requires that the state prove that a driver recklessly disregarded the rights and safety of others on the road. Simple traffic infractions are not enough to establish culpable negligence. The recklessness must rise to the level of an intentional violation of the victim’s rights.
Further, neither driver attempted to flee the scene after the woman was struck. Police were called and the drivers ostensibly waited until their statements were taken. The matter was referred to the SAO, who didn’t find sufficient cause to charge either driver with a crime. While neither driver was apparently drunk at the time, drunkenness alone would not be enough to establish that the death was the fault of the driver. Drunkenness does establish culpable negligence, but the culpable negligence must be directly tied to the death. So, if one driver was drunk at the scene, they may have been charged with DUI, especially if it was not the vehicle which struck the pedestrian, not necessarily DUI manslaughter. The first driver was the first in the chain and thus a stronger argument for DUI manslaughter, if impaired, could have been made against him.
Nonetheless, neither driver could be charged with fleeing the scene since both drivers remained until they were told they could leave. Hence, despite this terrible tragedy, neither driver will be charged with criminal offense(s) for the death of the pedestrian.
Talk to a Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Tallahassee criminal lawyer Luke Newman, P.A. represents the interests of those charged with serious traffic offenses such as vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. Call today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.