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Impairment Suspected in Car Accident

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office released the name of the person who died last month in a two-car accident as Etienne Leclerc Chery, 63. According to the police, a 2011 Toyota van was being driven by Christopher Burkhardt, 26, in the southbound lanes of the Dixie Highway on January 28th. Mr. Burkhardt swerved to the right to avoid hitting a slower moving vehicle and the right-front area of his van hit the rear of a 2006 Ford SUV.

The impact of the crash caused the Ford SUV to flip onto its side, skid, strike a raised curb, and finally crash into a concrete pole before overturning. Ms. Chery was a passenger in the Ford SUV and was declared dead prior to his arrival at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Mr. Burkhardt, the driver of the SUV, Luc Pierre, and another passenger Pierre Germina were all transported to the hospital with serious injuries.

The police believe that impairment by either drugs or alcohol played a role in Mr. Burkhardt causing the accident. Charges are currently pending against Mr. Burkhardt for the death of Ms. Chery and the injuries to the others.

Florida DUI Manslaughter

According to Florida law, if a person is driving under the influence and causes an accident that either seriously injures or kills another person they could face charges of DUI manslaughter. Section 316.193 of the Florida code states that “any person who . . . is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence . . . who, by reason of such operation, causes or contributes to causing . . . the death of any human being or unborn child commits DUI manslaughter.”

The punishment for DUI manslaughter is a felony in the second degree; however, the law states that if the person knew or should have known that the accident occurred and did not stop to give information or aid then the punishment is a felony in the first degree. The penalties for these felonies are as follows:

Felony in the Second Degree:

  • Fine up to $10,000
  • Prison sentence: up to 15 years

Felony in the First Degree:

  • Fine: up to $10,000
  • Prison sentence: up to 30 years

In addition, a person convicted of DUI manslaughter is also liable to the victim or the victim’s family for all personal injury or wrongful death caused by the accident. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, impaired earning ability, pain and suffering, disability, wrongful death, funeral costs, and more.

Call a Florida Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone that you know has been injured by a drunk driver in a car accident in the West Palm Beach area, let the experienced personal injury attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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