Town officials in Lantana, Florida have taken immediate action against the 51-year-old police chief arrested Wednesday afternoon on charges of drunken driving and hit-and-run, firing him less than 24 hours after his arrest in Boca Raton.
The termination letter claims the man violated at least five department rules when he allegedly crashed an unmarked police car into an unmarked car of a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy, who stopped in front of him at a traffic light.
Police claim the man drove off, but eventually stopped after the deputy tailed him with his emergency lights on.
According to his arrest report, the man was driving a department-issued Ford Explorer at the time of the crash and smelled like alcohol.
The former chief apparently told Boca Raton police he was driving back from the doctor’s office, but was unable to tell police his route.
He allegedly refused a sobriety test, but agreed to a breath test, which showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.22 and 0.23.
Investigators claim they recovered a metal coffee cup in his car with a red liquid that smelled like alcohol.
He was transported to the Palm Beach County Jail and booked around 6 p.m. Wednesday and released several hours later with no set bail.
The man has no criminal history in Florida and no disciplinary history as a police officer.
By 11 a.m. Thursday, town officials fired the man ending his two-year stint as Lantana’s police chief.
In the termination letter, he was accused of behaving recklessly and negligently with town property, using town property unsafely or without authorization, off-duty abuse of alcohol and driving a town vehicle while intoxicated.
A police officer convicted of DUI is required by the state to undergo substance-abuse counseling and can be banned from working in law enforcement for up to a year. This can depend on the person’s blood-alcohol content and if there was any property damage or injuries. Panelists decide what consequences are delivered to police officers accused of crimes in disciplinary hearings held across the state.
After a police officer or any other law enforcement official has been charged with a crime, it is vital they speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to be assured their rights remain protected. Prosecutors with the State tend to handle these cases aggressively in order to prove to the public that the officer is not above the law. Outside pressures to make an example out of a “law-breaking cop” can cause prosecutors to seek harsher consequences than if the individual arrested had not been in a position of authority.
The Florida Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent people accused of DUI, including officers and deputies, and assists them with resolving criminal issues. Anyone can be arrested for DUI. In fact, even good, generally law abiding citizens can be arrested and charged with drunken driving. Unfortunately this happens all the time and many of those arrested have never been in trouble with the law before. Even police officers are not immune to the possibility of a DUI stop and arrest.
No one expects to be pulled over and placed under arrest for DUI. While this can be a stressful, upsetting and even humiliating experience, it is essential to keep your rights in mind. You have the right to speak with an attorney and exercising your right to do so is in your best interests. When you speak with the Florida Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton you will receive the legal counsel you need to make sure that you do everything possible to protect your rights, future and freedom.
If you or someone you love has been accused of DUI anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or dial us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).