A Washington House committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would lower the state’s blood alcohol level threshold for drunken driving from .08 to .05.

The state of Washington arrested 28,000 people for drunk driving last year. That figure is down from about 40,000 a few years ago.

The United States as a whole, saw its biggest jump in drunk driving deaths in 10 years in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2015, 35,092 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways, which is a 7.2 percent increase from 2014.

While there was a siginificant increase in deaths, 18 states actually had fewer alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014. Florida was not one of them. The 5 states that experienced the biggest increases in deaths include Florida (+103), Georgia (+87), Arizona (+72), Oregon (+56) and Michigan (+55).

Florida saw 2,939 motor vehicle fatalities in 2015. Of those, 797 were alcohol-related tragedies. This is a 17.8 percent increase from the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths in 2014.

All states have the right to establish their own BAC limits, but currently all states set the BAC at .08 for DUI arrests. It will be interesting to see in time if more states choose to set their own BAC or keep it uniform across all states.

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A Brandon woman has been arrested Tuesday on DUI charges for the second time in five months.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office claims the 36-year-old hit another vehicle while traveling on Lakewood Drive.

Deputies believe the woman was attempting to turn right on Thomas Street when she struck the front of a 2014 Mazda 3. The woman was allegedly driving a 2016 Jeep Wrangler and caused $800 in damage to the Mazda, according to police.

Deputies allege the woman had slurred speech, glassy eyes, unstable balance, and was emitting a strong odor of alcohol.

During field sobriety tests, police claim the woman showed “extreme” signs of impairment.

She was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with property damage, along with a charge of a DUI over .15 blood alcohol level.

Reports indicate the woman was arrested on the same charges July 29.

DUI charges in Tampa Bay are no joke. The consequences of a conviction are pretty serious and prosecutors will do everything they can to persuade the judge to enforce maximum penalties. With that said, a second DUI conviction in a 5 year time span carries the following punishments:

  • Fine: Up to $2,000. With BAL of .15 or higher: Up to $4,000.
  • Jail: Up to 9 months. With BAL of .15 or higher: Up to 12 months. If this is a second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days.
  • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days.
  • License Revocation: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year.

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There’s so much to be thankful for this time of year and even more love to go around. Just thinking about all the food and fun you get to share with friends and family is enough to get you excited for the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday.

While this is a wonderful time of year, Thanksgiving is also the holiday where drivers and pedestrians are more at risk of accidents. With Blackout Wednesday right before and Black Friday right after, Thanksgiving is sandwiched in between a night of partying and super sales that bring more people out of the house and on the roads than usual.

The four day weekend usually tempts people to drink more than usual as well. Why? Experts have chalked this up to both environmental and emotional factors. The holiday can be a time to relax and hang out with family and friends, but also a time of stress and anxiety. In fact, for some people, Thanksgiving increases feelings of isolation. This, combined with anxiety and stress, could cause them to self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. Others, just simply want to have fun and let loose with friends by partying hard at the bars.

With more people drinking over the Thanksgiving holiday, police arrest a lot more people for DUIs. Across the United States, a higher number of accidents are caused during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend by impaired drivers compared to other holidays, like New Year’s Eve or Christmas. These accidents, along with arrests, are 100 percent preventable.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so you may want to think twice before having a few cocktails and getting behind the wheel. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to remind you that breaking DUI laws can result in jail time, license suspension, and hefty fines.

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A Florida police officer is facing a second DUI charge after he was apparently found asleep inside his car.

St. Petersburg police said the 36-year-old was booked into jail early Tuesday and was being held on a $500 bond.

In December 2009, authorities claim the man drove over a concrete median and struck a sedan. The man apparently kept driving and hit another vehicle.

No one was harmed in either crash. Records indicate the man’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit to drive in Florida. He was convicted on charges of DUI and leaving a crash scene.

Prosecutors view DUI charges quite seriously in the state of Florida. This means that it is equally important for you to take these charges seriously and speak with a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton.

In Florida, the consequences attached to a second DUI conviction depend on whether the conviction is within 5 years or outside of 5 years of the previous conviction. If the DUI arrest occurs outside of 5 years from any prior DUI conviction, then the DUI will have the following penalties:

  • maximum jail time of 9 months instead of 6 months
  • fines between $1,000 to $2,000 instead of $500 to $1,000
  • an ignition interlock device must be installed for one year

No minimum jail time is required, however the prosecution will likely push for some jail time. The most serious consequence of a second DUI conviction that occurs outside of five years is that you will not be eligible for a hardship license after a second DUI conviction.

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Police said a woman was arrested and charged with DUI after she drove the wrong way on U.S. 19.

The incident occurred early Sunday.

Police have video of the incident and claim the 43-year-old woman was driving north in the southbound lanes near Klosterman Road. She apparently passed an officer, who turned around and stopped her.

Before she was stopped, police believe she hit the bumper of a vehicle that tried to avoid her.

The man and woman inside that vehicle were not harmed.

Fighting DUI charges can be an uphill struggle. An overzealous prosecutor may seek maximum penalties, which can cause you much stress and hardship.

Because of this, if you have had the misfortune of being charged with DUI, it is always a good idea to seek the advocacy of an experienced attorney. It is very important that you understand all of your legal options. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may want to seek a plea agreement or fight the charges in court. Our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can advise you on your best course of action and make sure that your rights are protected.

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A 23-year-old Hudson man was arrested and charged with DUI with property damage after he allegedly crashed into a home overnight.

According to FHP, the man was traveling northbound on Balsam Avenue approaching the intersection of Shadow Lake Boulevard around 2:20 a.m.

Troopers claim he failed to slow or stop and collided with a posted stop sign and then the front of a home on the 13000 block of Shadow Lake Boulevard.

The crash caused an estimated $75,000 worth of damage to the home and caused minor injuries to the 71-year-old occupant of the home.

The man is also facing careless driving charges.

The man was a probationary Sheriff’s County deputy in Pasco, working in corrections since 2013. He has resigned following his arrest.

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As you may or may not know, Labor Day weekend is right around the corner. This means a long weekend and gatherings with family and friends. While we want everyone to have fun, be aware that a drunk driving crackdown is currently underway in Tampa.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’ campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is in full effect through September 5th this year, spreading safety awareness and increasing law enforcement presence to try to prevent drunk drivers.

With that said, here are some staggering drunk driving facts from the NHTSA to note:

  • A drunk driver injures someone in a collision about every 2 minutes.
  • A drunk driver kills someone in a tragic wreck every 52 minutes.
  • 2 in every 3 people in the U.S. will be part of a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives – either causing or being the victim in a crash.

Our Tampa DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want everyone to stay safe over the holiday weekend. As you get ready to celebrate, please heed the following advice to avoid a drunk driving tragedy.

  • Get a DD who will stay sober all day/night ahead of time, so you do not have to worry about how to get home.
  • If you are hosting a party and serving alcohol, keep numbers of taxis on hand, or urge people to use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, and do your best to not let intoxicated people get behind the wheel.
  • If you will be driving, stay sober and buckle up. Wearing your seatbelt can reduce your chances of being injured (and killed) by more than 40 percent if you end up being involved in a collision with a drunk driver.

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Charges against a 31-year-old St. Petersburg man accused in a fatal DUI crash have been upgraded now to DUI manslaughter.

The man faces these charges after the death of a woman who passed away late Monday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as a result of her injuries suffered in a traffic crash last weekend.

According to Pinellas Park police, the 34-year-old St. Petersburg woman and her boyfriend were driving just before 1 a.m. Sunday in the 4000 block of Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park when they were struck by a 2016 Toyota Corolla.

Deputies say the 31-year-old man  was drunk when he drove through a red light and struck the woman’s 2003 Toyota Camry.

The woman her boyfriend were rushed to the hospital, where the woman later died. The man remains in critical condition.

In addition to DUI manslaughter, the man is also facing two charges of DUI causing serious bodily injury.

Pinellas Park police said surveillance video from a nearby restaurant captured the crash.

The man refused field sobriety tests at the scene of the crash.

Pinellas Park police did force a blood draw on the man.

DUI manslaughter and DUI causing serious bodily injury cases are quite complex as there are numerous factors that must be addressed immediately. Our Tampa DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are former prosecutors, so we know what types of issues these cases raised. We can examine the evidence with the hopes of answering the following questions:  

  • What was the cause of the accident?
  • Is there any proof of who was actually driving the vehicle?
  • Was your blood alcohol content above or below the legal limit? Was a blood, breath or urine test lawfully obtained by law enforcement?
  • Did your negligence cause the death of another person?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • What do experts and accident reconstructionists have to say about the evidence?

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Drinking and driving in the great state of Florida has some pretty steep consequences.

Wallet Hub compiled a ranking of the strictest and most lenient states in the U.S. with DUI penalties and Florida took the No. 14 spot.

The strictest state in the country is Arizona, followed by Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska while South Dakota, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Vermont were the most lenient.

According to the site, the data was found by examining 15 categories including minimum jail time, minimum fines, and average insurance rate increase after an arrest. The overall findings showed that the average fine for a first DUI is $347. Wallet Hub also reports that 92 percent of states “require offenders to equip their vehicles with Ignition Interlock devices after DUI.”

In Florida, there is no minimum jail time sentence for a first-time conviction. A second conviction mandates a 10 day minimum time. A DUI becomes a felony after the third offense with older DUI offenses factoring into penalties for up to 10 years.

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A man reportedly threw up at a fast food restaurant late Wednesday night, but it was not because of the food.

The 32-year-old Clermont man was charged with DUI and resisting arrest after an employee at a Burger King in Clermont called police to report a driver in the drive-thru line had vomited in a vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit.

The man also paid $35 for an $8 order, according to the report.

Police claim that when they responded to the State Road 50 restaurant at about 11:40 p.m., they found the man in the driver seat with his head down, his eyes bloodshot and glassy and his vehicle running. Officers allege they smelled alcohol on him.

They apparently had to pull the man out of the vehicle after he refused to exit, and he was unsteady on his feet.

The man reportedly refused sobriety tests and was arrested.

If you are arrested for DUI in the state of Florida, within 10 days of your arrest, it is likely that your driver’s license will be administratively suspended for at least six months, or confiscated by authorities. If you wish to dispute your DUI suspension you have only 10 days from the time you were arrested to appeal the immediate suspension. Different from other criminal charges, DUI arrests are unique. Depending on the circumstances leading up to a DUI arrest and the defendant’s previous record, the case can have many possible outcomes, including the possibility of charges being reduced or dismissed entirely.

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