Brevard County Woman Dies in Suspected DUI Accident

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

Just before midnight on March 1, 2014, 43-year-old Jennifer Dusan from Merritt Island was driving her 2003 Ford Mustang in Port St. John in Brevard County, Florida when she went to make a turn onto U.S. 1.  According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Dusan lost control of her car and hit a Ford Taurus with three Titusville residents.  One of the passengers, a 26-year-old woman was seriously injured in the accident and was taken to Holmes Medical Center in Melbourne where she died on the afternoon of March 2, 2014.  The other two passengers of the Taurus had minor injuries and were treated and released.  Dusan was not injured in the accident was arrested at the scene for DUI manslaughter.

DUI manslaughter may be the most serious of the DUI charges that someone can face.  The very nature of the charge means that someone died as a result of someone else drinking and then getting behind the wheel.  DUI manslaughter carries the most severe sentence of all the DUI charges and depending on the circumstances of the accident, can result in decades of prison time.

If someone dies in an accident involving a drunk driver, the drunk driver is facing a second-degree felony charge.  With that, they can face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Additionally, someone with a conviction for DUI Manslaughter faces a mandatory permanent revocation of their driver’s license, although they may be able to get a hardship reinstatement after five years for business or employment purposes only if the DUI manslaughter is a first offense and they meet other requirements such as getting an interlock device.

The penalties are much higher if the drunk driver leaves the scene of the accident where a person died.  If the person left the scene where they knew or should have known that they were involved in an accident they face a first-degree felony charge, which brings with it up to a 30-year prison term and a $10,000 fine along with license revocation.

The charge of DUI manslaughter is only one of many charges that Dusan faces in this case.  She could also face a regular DUI charge that could mean a fine and possible jail time if it is a first offense and her blood alcohol level was above .08%.  Additionally, she could face additional misdemeanor charges involving the injuries that the other two passengers received, even though those injuries were relatively minor.  For that, could end up with up to another year in jail for each charge.

Outside the criminal penalties she faces, Dusan also has civil liability in the accident both for the wrongful death of the woman killed and the passengers injured.  If she were somehow able to get her license back under a hardship reinstatement, she would have to meet special requirements for car insurance.  She would also have additional restrictions as a felon such as not being allowed to vote.