Traffic Infractions Involving Fatalities
As of October 1, 2005, the minimum mandatory penalties for a violation of Fla. Stat. §318.14(5) provide that: "If the person is required to appear before the designated official pursuant to §318.19(1) and is found to have committed the infraction, the designated official shall impose a civil penalty of $1,000 in addition to any other penalties and the person's driver's license shall be suspended for 6 months."
This statute means that when a traffic infraction results in a fatality, the court MUST impose the $1,000 fine and the six (6) months license suspension. In court is permitted to convert the civil penalty to community service as provided in Fla. Stat. § 318.18(8)(b).
This type of traffic infraction is especially serious because the infraction requires a mandatory hearing in front of a county court judge.
Attorney for Traffic Infractions with a Fatality in Florida
If you receive a traffic cation for a moving violation that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, then contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. Do not face the court alone at the mandatory hearing. Instead, let us put our experience to work for you.
From our office in Fort Lauderdale, we represent clients on traffic tickets involving a death throughout Broward County at the Central Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the County Civil North Regional Courthouse in Deerfield Beach, County Civil South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood, and County Civil West Regional Courthouse in Plantation, FL.
From our office in West Palm Beach, FL, we represent clients throughout Palm Beach County at the Main Courthouse in West Palm Beach, the West County Courthouse in Belle Glade, the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, and the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach.
Our attorneys also represent clients in Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County, Hobe Sound and the Village of Indiantown in Martin County, and in Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami Beach and Miami in Miami-Dade County, FL.
- What Are the Penalties for a Traffic Infraction Resulting in Death?
- When Can My License Be Suspended?
- How Is Causation Proven in a Traffic Infraction Case?
Under Fla. Stat. §316.027(4), Fla. Stat. § 318.14(1) and Fla. Stat. §318.18(8)(c), if an infraction results in a death, the defendant may also be required by the court to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital that regularly receives accident victims. Additionally, pursuant to Fla. Stat. §318.14(5), the court may also impose traffic school, although it is not required.
Additionally, pursuant to Fla. Stat. §318.14(5), the court may also impose traffic school, although it is not required.
Under Florida Statute § 316.655(2), the court may suspend or revoke a defendant's license when it is warranted by the totality of the circumstances resulting in the conviction and the need to provide for the maximum safety for all persons who travel on or who are otherwise affected by the use of the highways of the state.
The court shall consider all pertinent factors, including, but not limited to:
- The extent and nature of the driver's violation;
- The number of persons killed or injured as the result of the driver's violation; and
- The extent of any property damage resulting from the driver's violation.
In Giles v. State, 2 FLW Supp. 451 (Fla. 5th Cir. 1994), the court held that each factor listed in the statute must be stated on the record before a defendant's license may be revoked pursuant to this statute.
Restitution cannot be made part of a sentence on a non-criminal infraction. See Salvador v. State, 601 So. 2d 227 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992). Since there is no crime charged with a civil traffic infraction, the next of kin cannot receive criminal restitution.
Proof of Death in a Traffic Court Case
Although death does not need to be proven as part of the case itself because death is not an element of any infraction, it must be proven before the mandatory penalties can be imposed. First, the citation must be marked as a fatality before the driver can be put on notice of that allegation. The officer that issued the citation is required to prove the death as part of the sentencing.
In many cases in traffic court where death results, it can be proven by the introduction of the death certificate, testimony by the next of kin, or testimony of the traffic homicide investigator.
Under Fla. Stat. §316.027(4), §318.14(1) and §318.18(8)(c), causation is broadly defined and refers to infractions which "result" in the death of a person. Fla. Stat.§ 316.027(4) and Fla. Stat. §318.18(8)(c) state that the additional penalty of community service hours is applicable if the infraction "caused or resulted in the death ... "
Thus, in terms of the enhanced sentencing --community service, a maximum penalty of $1,000, and driver license revocation -- the court needs to apply a broad standard of causation. This issue arises in cases in which a period of time passes between the crash and the victim’s death or when the court finds that the defendant was not the sole cause of the crash.
In many cases, a victim does not die until several days or even months after the crash. In these cases, causation may be more difficult to prove. These cases require proof that the victim's death was attributable to the actual accident, rather than an intervening event.
In these cases, the officer that issued the citation will look at the complete autopsy report and might consider asking the Medical Examiner to testify at trial on the manner and cause of death as a result of the crash.
This article was last updated on Friday, March 23, 2018.