A 31-year-old Florida man who failed to appear on felony DUI manslaughter charges has been taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Texas. Reportedly, the man was staying with his wife and two sons at a commercial campground. He was taken into custody peacefully.
In December 2012, the man was booked on suspicion of DUI manslaughter following a single-car accident that killed a 26-year-old man. According to authorities, the victim was a passenger in the defendant’s Dodge Charger when the defendant, whose blood alcohol content was allegedly more than double the legal limit, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a utility pole. The victim, who was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, suffered a serious head injury that later caused his death.
Following a preliminary hearing, the defendant was released on $100,000 bond. The bail bondsman fitted him with an ankle bracelet monitor, which he removed before allegedly absconding with his family. Investigators grew concerned when authorities were unable to reach the defendant’s wife. They learned that the couple’s children, aged 5 and 7, had been withdrawn from their Florida elementary school. Investigators went to the couple’s residence but discovered no signs that they had vacated. They left most of their possessions, including a family vehicle, at their home in Florida.
On hearing that the man had been located, the victim’s mother expressed relief that he would stand trial. The bail bondsman, who stood to lose $100,000, was also relieved to hear of the capture. The man was taken into custody in Texas; he is scheduled for extradition back to Florida within 60 days.
It is unclear whether the man’s wife will be charged criminally for her involvement. She could potentially face a charge of aiding and abetting a fugitive, which the law views as a “joint effort” with the fugitive, regarding the underlying offense. Thus, she could face the same felony DUI manslaughter penalties that her husband faces.
Criminal penalties related to drunk driving are serious and can have long-lasting consequences. Penalties for even a misdemeanor first DUI offense can include license suspension, fines, court-ordered treatment and jail time. A DUI defense attorney may be able to challenge the admissibility of state evidence or negotiate a plea to a lesser charge before trial.