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Tampa Woman Charged with DUI Manslaughter

Debra Jean Smith of Tampa was arrested and charged earlier this month with DUI manslaughter after a crash in Lutz. 71-year-old Helen Teresa Wallace of Clearwater was killed.

According to authorities, Smith failed to stop at the intersection of Sunset Lane and Hanna Road and her Infiniti ultimately hit the driver's side of Wallace's Oldsmobile. Wallace's car then hit a Volvo.

Wallace died after being transported to St Joseph's Hospital. Wallace's passenger suffered minor injuries. The driver of the Volvo was not injured.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's office report indicates that Smith was not injured in the collision. She was arrested at the scene of the accident and charged with DUI.

According to the report, Smith performed poorly in a sobriety test and kept repeating questions. A breath test, however, did not indicate any alcohol on Smith's breath. Blood and urine samples were sent to Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysts to determine if drugs (either prescription or illegal) were in Smith's system at the time of the accident.

Florida law establishes that someone is guilty of the crime of DUI if they are driving while under the influence of a controlled substance when affected to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired. Prosecutors will have to prove that Smith's normal faculties were impaired at the time of the accident.

The media has reported that Smith was previously convicted of driving under the influence in the early 1990s.

If convicted of DUI manslaughter, Smith will face up to 15 years in a Florida State correctional institution, in addition to a fine of up to $10,000.

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  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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