Last week a Florida judge sentenced a 33-year-old woman to 15 years in state prison, the maximum sentence for a DUI Manslaughter charge. According to an article in The Tampa Tribune Nicole Harris Hall was reportedly drunk when she drove through a stop sign and hit the car Margaret L. Caouette was driving. Caouette, 75, who was driving home from her job as a Wal-Mart greeter died in the crash.
Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarotta made it clear that he carefully considered Hall’s previous crimes and her attitude the night of the accident before deciding to hand her the maximum sentence.
“You have a history of bad decisions and bad choices,” the judge reportedly told Hall. “That’s very difficult to look past in this kind of a case.”
Prosecutors told the judge that Hall had initiated a fight with her boyfriend and punched out a window in his house on June 11, the day of the fateful incident. Hall then fled the house in her sister’s car as her boyfriend placed a call to the sheriff’s office, the article said. The deputy that responded to the call who was on his way to the boyfriend’s house actually ended up witnessing the accident as Hall slammed into Caouette’s vehicle.
What’s worse – prosecutors said Hall lied about her name and the circumstances under which she drove away from her boyfriend’s house. She even said she was pregnant, which it turned out, she wasn’t. Her blood alcohol level was measured at .18, more than twice the legal limit of .08 in Florida. According to the article, Hall had also absconded from a previous house arrest, where she had been convicted of writing herself fake checks and had an outstanding charge of filing a false police report in Georgia. Hall pleaded guilty to the charges and apologized to Caouette’s family. But that didn’t stop the judge from giving her the maximum possible sentence in the case.
This story is a classic example of how people arrested on suspicion of DUI can sometimes drive a nail into their own coffin. Despite her criminal history, had Hall not lied about her name, her condition, the circumstances and provided a fake license to top it all, she probably would not be looking at having to spend 15 years in prison.
A DUI charge is a serious charge. It affects your life in ways you may not conceive. It is best to consult an efficient and knowledgeable Georgia DUI attorney before giving out statements to various officials who will only be too eager to build a case against you.