Joselyn Lopez of North Lauderdale, Florida was taken into police custody on October 26 for allegedly causing a car crash over a year ago that led to the death Christopher Sheehan and injured Jacob Snowhite.
Lopez, 30, faces eight charges, including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, reckless driving and causing serious bodily harm. During a bond court hearing on Friday, a judge set her bond at $47,000 and ordered her not to drive a vehicle under any circumstances. If she manages to post bail, Lopez is to be placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor and will have to submit to weekly drug and alcohol testing.
According to the arrest report, the alleged crash occurred at 2:30 a.m. on August 20, 2016 along State Road 7 in Coral Springs. Sheehan was driving home with Snowhite after spending the day hunting alligators in the Everglades when Lopez rear-ended his vehicle, causing a fiery crash, the report said. Sheehan, a Fort Lauderdale detective, was killed in the crash, and Snowhite, a Fort Lauderdale firefighter, suffered non-life threatening injuries. Lopez was not injured.
Lopez had reportedly been drinking at a bar earlier that night and was driving at a high rate of speed while under the influence. Investigators determined that she was driving at 75 mph on a 45 mph road when she crashed into Sheehan’s vehicle. Her blood alcohol level less than three hours after the crash was .08, which is Florida’s legal limit. She reportedly showed classic signs of impairment, including slurred speech and the odor of alcohol emitting from her breath.
It is unclear why it took the state attorney’s office so long to charge Lopez. A spokesperson from the office told the press that vehicular homicide investigations are “very complex” for both law enforcement and prosecutors who must evaluate the case and make the “ultimate filing decision.”
DUI manslaughter occurs when a person drives a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, and either directly or indirectly causes the death of another person. The charge is a second-degree penalty punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years probation, and $10,000 in fines.
Florida has some of the toughest DUI laws in the U.S. because of all the deaths caused by drunk driving. Law enforcement are required to have a zero tolerance standard for DUI cases, and as a result, Florida’s courts prosecute a large number of such cases every year.
DUI cases carry several penalties in addition to fines and possible jail time, including driver’s license suspension, vehicle impoundment, classes on drunk driving, community service, psychosocial evaluation followed by any recommended treatment, and restitution when appropriate.