Articles Posted in DUI / BUI – Drunk Driving

Florida Statute 316.2953 provides the law on window tinting and what is legal in the State of Florida.  It states that “a person shall not operate any motor vehicle on any road on which vehicle the side wings and side windows on either side forward of or adjacent to the operator’s seat are composed of, covered by, or treated with any sunscreening material or other product or covering which has the effect of making the window nontransparent or which would alter the window’s color, increase its reflectivity, or reduce its light transmittance.”  The statute provides that “a sunscreening material is authorized for such windows if, when applied to and tested on the glass of such windows on the specific motor vehicle, the material has a total solar reflectance of visible light of not more than 25 percent as measured on the nonfilm side and a light transmittance of at least 28 percent in the visible light range.”  What happens if a police officer sees your window tint and pulls you over, resulting in DUI arrest?

window tint duiIn State v. Coley, 157 So.3d 542 (Fla. 4thDCA 2015), Gary Coley was stopped by police for an illegal window tint.  He was charged with possession of cocaine and cannabis and he moved to suppress any and all contraband seized, and statements made, arguing that there was not probable cause for the stop.  The police officer testified that he had issued many citations for illegal tints of side windows during the hearing.  He stated that in his experience, the tint is illegal where the driver of the vehicle cannot be seen.  The officer correctly stated that per statutory regulation, a tint measurement of less than 28 % is illegal.  The officer indicated that he stopped Coley because he could not see the driver of the vehicle through the tint of its side windows, thereby giving him probable cause to conduct the traffic stop.  The defense argued that the traffic stop was illegal due to the officer’s mistake of law because the law does not state that if a driver cannot be seen through it, then the tint is illegal.  The trial court granted the motion to suppress.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals held that a traffic stop is permissible under the Fourth Amendment where an officer has probable cause to believe that a traffic infraction occurred.  The court provided: “As we have previously recognized, the probable cause standarddoes not demand any showing that such belief be correct or more likely true than false. A ‘practical, nontechnical’ probability … is all that is required…. Finally, the evidence thus collected must be seen and weighed not in terms of library analysis by scholars, but as understood by those versed in the field of law enforcement.  State v. Neumann, 567 So.2d 950, 952 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990) (citations omitted) (quoting Texas v. Brown, 460 U.S. 730, 742, 103 S.Ct. 1535, 75 L.Ed.2d 502 (1983)).”

The majority of criminal cases in Florida get resolved by plea agreements.  In the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 3.171 governs plea agreements.  The prosecutor has broad discretion in plea agreements.  The prosecutor may engage in discussions with the defendant’s attorney or, if the defendant is unrepresented, with the defendant himself as long as a record is made of the discussions.

question criminal issueThe prosecutor may ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) to a charged crime or to a lesser or related offense in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to any of the following:

1)  abandon other charges;

In certain circumstances, the answer may be yes.  In Aguilar v. State, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D179a (3rd DCA 2018), Juan Aguilar appeals a conviction for DUI crimes DUI Manslaughter, DUI with person or property damage, and DUI causing serious bodily injury, along with two counts of DUI, the lesser included offense.  These charges arose out of a three car accident that occurred at around 3:00 a.m. one evening.  Aguilar lost control of his car and struck one person who died, two who suffered serious bodily injuries, and one who suffered minor injuries.  A state trooper observed Aguilar was “somewhat unresponsive, incoherent” and had “blood shot watery eyes,” “slurred speech,” and “had odor of alcohol” coming from his person and car.blood test

The state trooper indicated that because there were “significant indicators” that Aguilar was displaying an “alcohol related impairment,” he came to the trauma center where Aguilar was taken to get a “blood draw.”  He indicated that he made no effort to get a warrant to obtain the blood because of “time restraints.”  He indicated that he again smelled an odor of alcohol and noticed his face was “flushed” and his eyes were “bloodshot and watery.”  The blood sample taken, without consent or a warrant, showed a blood alcohol level of 0.112.  Aguilar filed a motion to suppress the blood test results due to a lack of probable cause and lack of warrant.  The State introduced evidence that it would have taken at least four hours to obtain a warrant and that “because of the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream, there were time constraints creating exigent circumstances to justify an exception to the warrant requirement.”  The trial court denied the motion to suppress.

The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the exigency exception to blood testing in DUI cases several times.  It held that an exception to the Fourth Amendment for searches conducted outside the approval of a judge applies when “the exigencies of the situation make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that a warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”  The U.S. Supreme Court has held that natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream was not a per se exigency, but one factor to consider in the totality of the circumstances test.

If you are ever stopped for DUI, you may not trust the breath test and want to refuse to take the test or you may even want to ask for a separate blood test or breath test by a lab of your choosing.  In Florida, your license can be suspended for refusal to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test.  You can ask for a review of your license suspension, but a hearing officer will be looking at certain factors under the statute at the review hearing.  Florida courts have determined that a law enforcement officer may select the initial test; and refusal will result in license suspension.

keys DUIIn the case of Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Green, 702 So.2d 584 (2nd DCA 1997), Mr. Green declined to take a breath test after being stopped for DUI.  He was observed to be weaving his vehicle and to have bloodshot eyes, alcohol on his breath, and to be unsteady on his feet.  He failed a standard set of roadside sobriety tests.  He was arrested and taken to the breath testing unit.  The officer provided the “implied consent” warning indicating a refusal to take the breath test would result in a suspension of his driving privileges.  Mr. Green refused.  He, instead, offered to take a blood test and requested assistance from the arresting officer by bringing him a telephone book or a telephone to contact a laboratory.

Mr. Green argued that he had the right to select the test of his choice and the officer was obligated to assist him in obtaining that test.  The Court held that the officer has the right to select the initial test, and it can be “an approved chemical test or physical test.”  Only after a driver has complied with the initial law enforcement selected test does an officer have to assist a driver in obtaining a blood test or secondary test.

In most situations, bad driving gets you a traffic ticket. However, for some driving offenses, traffic tickets are not enough as far as the law is concerned. You can be arrested for being a bad driver. Recently, a woman was arrested in Virginia after being caught driving over 90 mph on three separate occasions within an hour. The third time she was stopped, Kai Kitchen was arrested for reckless driving.

Reckless drivingFlorida has its own version of reckless driving.  Florida Statute 316.192 states, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”  Reckless driving is a criminal offense that can lead to jail, even prison in some cases, depending on whether it’s the first conviction or whether there are injuries or property damage.  Reckless driving is deemed more serious than simple careless driving.  Careless driving leads to a civil citation and is defined in Florida Statute 316.1925, which states, “Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the [vehicle] in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”

Reckless driving can be punished more severely, because it looks at situations where the driver is actively doing something that can be dangerous, while careless driving is more like being absent minded while driving.  Causing property damage, an injury, or even a death while driving carelessly isn’t a criminal offense, but doing either while driving recklessly can result in a stiff punishment.

How to Receive a Temporary Driving Permit after a DUI in Florida.

In Florida, a person arrested for a DUI must face two separate cases: an administrative case and a criminal court case. While most people are familiar with the criminal consequences a DUI brings, there is also an important administrative process dealing with the person’s driver license.

When someone is arrested on suspicion of DUI, the arresting officer will normally take the driver’s license, which results in an immediate suspension of driving privileges. If the driver takes a breath test, and fails, the driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months. If you refuse a chemical test (such as a blood, breath or urine test) for the first time, the driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If the driver has previously refused a chemical test the suspension lasts 18 months.

Lawyer DUI setup: The Florida Bar alleges Three Florida Attorneys set up opposing counsel with a DUI.  The Florida Bar has finished up its case today in an ethics trial against three Florida attorneys accused of using a Tampa police officer and an office paralegal to set up a rival attorney with a DUI in an attempt to derail the case.  The alleged setup stems from a defamation trial two years ago that pitted two morning radio shock jocks against each other. So far this case has engrossed the local legal community with the accusations of dirty scheming and flirtation to win the case.

844621_speed_1The Florida Bar supports the version of events as told by attorney Phil Campbell. Campbell was charged with a DUI two years ago. He alleges that attorneys Adam Filthaut, Robert Adams, and Stephen Diaco orchestrated his DUI charge by using an office paralegal and a local police officer to derail the trial.

The alleged event occurred in January 2013, when the three attorneys represented the well known radio host Bubba The Love Sponge Clem in a defamation lawsuit brought by a rival radio personality, Todd Schnitt. Schnitt claimed Bubba made derogatory remarks about him and his wife on his radio show and induced his fans to harass him.

A criminal defense attorney’s worst enemy is a confession, whether in writing or one that is video taped. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I’ve had my share of clients confess to crimes, even after they had been warned and told that they have the right to remain silent. At least these confessions came while they were being interrogated by trained detectives. I am completely baffled by the number of people that use social media to “confess” to criminal offenses by posting statements, and the ultimate confession… posting videos of themselves committing the crimes.

A teenager in Oregon was arrested after he made a Facebook post concerning a crash that occurred while the teen was driving under the influence, according to abcnews.go.com. The teenager posted, “Drivin drunk… classsic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P”. After the messages were sent to the local police station, the teen was arrested for hitting two parked cars, but not for DUI.

140908_capture-1046263-m.jpgNydailynews.com reported that Facebook also led to a North Carolina mother’s arrest after a video was posted on her son’s Facebook page. The video showed the teen’s mother helping him attempt the “fire challenge“. The forty-one year old mother was arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after her son had to be treated for the burns he received while attempting the challenge.
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Driving Under the Influence or (DUI) is a crime that knows no bounds and affects everyone from ordinary citizens, politicians, celebrities and athletes alike. Almost all of us know or have known someone who has driven under the influence of alcohol at some point in his or her life. Driving under the Influence is a type of crime that does not discriminate on who you are in order for you to be arrested or commit the offense. As a matter of fact, we often hear of famous people committing these crimes, nationally the list of celebrities charged with the offense is substantial. Celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Charles Barkley, Heather Locklear, FloRida, Kiefer Sutherland, and the list goes on.

So what does Driving Under the Influence (DUI) mean? In Florida if you have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or more and operate a motor vehicle, you are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol and you will be arrested. So what does .08 mean and how much do I have to drink to reach .08?

That is where the problem lies. Your blood alcohol level is affected by many factors besides the amount of alcohol you consume. Factors such as your gender, how much you weigh, whether or not you take prescription drugs, how long it takes you to consume the alcohol and whether you drink on an empty stomach or have eaten a full meal, all contribute to your body’s blood alcohol level. The only way to be truly safe is not to consume alcohol at all, which can be difficult given our culture of happy hours and bars.
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Jacksonville Criminal LawyerChildren and Adults, alike, look up to and aspire to famous Actors and Actresses. But, when their good name is pulled through the mud, we all begin to question how innocent are these movie stars anyway. One recent example is Amanda Bynes who made her fame and fortune on the Nickelodeon channel programming. She just recently had her driver’s license revoked by the State of California following three (3) alleged driving related incidents.

Her first incident stemmed from a collision with a police cruiser in April of this year. She was subsequently charged with DUI, but has rebutted all allegations that she was “under the influence.” Bynes went as far as to tweet President Obama, “..I don’t drink…” Her other two incidents are cases of hit-and-runs but she also denies any wrongdoing.

Although a California case, her same issues are relevant here in Jacksonville as well. As a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, clients come to me with all sort of driving issues and I work diligently to correct any wrongs and get the best possible outcome, given the circumstances. In Florida, if you incur too many points or three or more citations for driving on a suspended or revoked license within 5 years you could be labeled HTO. As a HTO your license is suspended for 4 years! However, as a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney I can review your driving history and determine where I can provide assistance and fight to get your license reinstated.

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