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Former Marion County Firefighter Facing Trial for DUI Manslaughter

The DUI manslaughter trial is slated to start for a former firefighter who contends a faulty test was used to charge him.

The manslaughter charge for the man is the result of a crash on Interstate 75 near Wildwood on Feb. 27, 2011 that left a woman dead.

The man was a Marion County firefighter at the time.

Jury selection at the Sumter County courthouse will start Monday.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the man was driving a Volkswagen GTI south on I-75 near mile marker 335 when he struck a Chevy Blazer from behind. The SUV veered off the interstate before overturning several times. The driver of the Blazer suffered critical injuries and the passenger was the female killed.

An FHP investigation report revealed that the man had a blood alcohol level of .014, which is above the legal limit of .08, and he was charged with DUI manslaughter as well as causing serious injuries to another.

The validity of the blood-alcohol test was questioned, citing a state law that states antiseptic must be applied to the puncture area before such blood tests occur. A paramedic used a dry gauze, rather than an antiseptic, to clean the puncture area because the test kit contained an iodine swab and the man claimed he was allergic to iodine, according to court documents.

The circuit judge ruled the test could be excluded. But a three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal in 2015 overturned the ruling that the blood-alcohol test should be excluded and sent the case back to the judge to determine “whether there was substantial compliance” with the rule.

It is not immediately clear whether there was substantial compliance developed through the circuit court to allow the test to be tossed.

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of how much alcohol is in your system. BAC tests are generally believed to be the most reliable way to determine how intoxicated someone is.

However, BAC tests are subject to error. Any mishandling or improper procedure in the process can result in an invalid test. Even if these tests show that your BAC exceeds the legal limit, if it can be demonstrated that proper steps were not followed or that errors were made, this could be enough to get DUI charges dropped.

A DUI conviction can have serious consequences that haunt you for the rest of your life. A DUI arrest that resulted from a BAC test does not automatically mean you are guilty. Challenging the evidence of a BAC test can help you avoid a conviction. Our Villages DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can protect your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome for the charges stacked against you.

For a free consultation, please call us today at 352-369-5334 or contact us online.

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