If you are like millions of other Americans, you will likely be traveling somewhere over the Thanksgiving holiday. According to the annual AAA Travel Forecast, nearly 51 million people across the country will be traveling 50 miles or further. More congestion on the roadways is pretty much inevitable.

The holiday season is notorious for higher incidents of drunk driving. In fact, an average of 728 people will be injured or killed in a drunk driving accident daily from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day  according to the Center for Disease Control.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known as “Blackout Wednesday.” Thanksgiving Eve is quite popular for binge drinking due to the fact that most people do not have to work on Thursday. On that some note, college students will be heading home for a break with friends.

Everyone can benefit from following these safety tips, regardless of how far you will be traveling over the holidays:

  • Visibility is reduced at night, so try to travel during daylight hours.
  • Stay on top of traffic updates and anticipate heavy traffic areas. Be prepared for delays and use a GPS to find alternative routes if necessary.
  • Make frequent stops and rotate drivers to avoid fatigue.
  • Never drive if you are intoxicated. Designate a driver or make alternative plans.

Tampa Bay law enforcement will be out in full swing over the Thanksgiving holiday. Patrols will be increased and sobriety checkpoints will be set up in certain areas.

The simple solution to avoiding a DUI is to avoid driving when intoxicated. However, you can be stopped for other reasons. Even if you are under the legal limit, having had a drink could mean that you are subject to closer scrutiny. Additionally, driving under the influence of drugs or prescription medications can impair your driving. Be mindful of more than just alcohol this holiday season.

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18-year-old actor Ethan Cutkosky, who plays Carl Gallagher on the Showtime series “Shameless,” was arrested and booked for DUI Thursday in Los Angeles.

According to reports, Cutkosky was driving his orange BMW at around 10:30 PM and began to straddle the traffic lanes, which prompted cops to pull him over.

He allegedly performed poorly on field sobriety tests and was arrested on the spot.

It’s unclear if the DUI was drug or alcohol related.

The state of Florida takes a pretty hard stance on DUI arrests involving a person under the age of 21. In fact, the state has a “zero tolerance policy,” meaning a young person charged with DUI can face severe sanctions including jail time or incarceration, probation, fines, court costs, community service hours, and a driver’s license suspension.

For those under the age of 21 charged with DUI, Florida has enacted a zero tolerance legal limit of .02. This legal limit means that even one drink can put a driver over the legal limit.

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A Clearwater official was arrested last weekend after being accused of being drunk while driving a golf cart.

According to police, the man, who is the city’s community redevelopment agency director, drove the golf cart into outdoor tables at the Clear Sky Restaurant on Cleveland Street.

Authorities said the 38-year-old then grabbed a person by the neck who was filming the incident. The man then allegedly left the scene.

He was stopped a short distance later and eventually taken to the Pinellas County Jail but not booked.

Instead, he was entered into an Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program early Sunday, which allows adults arrested for low-level crimes to avoid jail by completing community service, counseling or drug treatment.

That would allow him to complete community service instead of jail.

However, the man has been placed on administrative leave. He has worked for the city since 2016.

A golf cart is considered a vehicle under Florida law, so driving one while drunk could result in DUI charges. In Florida, we are lucky to enjoy mild weather throughout the year, which enables many Floridians to take advantage of golfing in the winter months.  A round of golf with friends can include a few alcoholic beverages along the way, which could lead to legal consequences.

While most golf courses are on private property, driving a golf cart while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in DUI charges. Because a golf cart is considered a vehicle under Florida law, this means that you can actually be arrested after a day on the golf course for operating the golf cart while under the influence. Even if you weren’t on the golf course, many Floridians tool around in golf carts as an alternate mode of transportation, and you can still be arrested for DUI on a golf cart if you were outside a golf course.

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Halloween is today, so our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton wanted to make sure we warn all residents to refrain from drinking and driving. A DUI arrest is no treat.

Police will be on the lookout for adults partying during the Halloween festivities. You may even notice an increase in police patrols and sobriety checkpoints in an effort to catch people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Increased patrols and DUI checkpoints can yield huge results for police like DUI arrests, traffic citations and impounding vehicles. Whether you are stopped while driving or at a DUI checkpoint, it is very important for you to be aware of your legal options and rights. A DUI conviction may result in a loss of driving privileges, jail and fines.

When you are facing a DUI arrest on Halloween or at any time, it is vital that you act immediately and contact a Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. During your free consultation with us, we will review all your legal options and make you aware of what needs to be done first. For instance, you have 10 days from the day of your arrest to contact the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. A hearing must be scheduled to retain your driving privileges until the matter is decided by the hearing officer, otherwise, your license will be suspended.

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Golfer Tiger Woods will plead guilty to reckless driving in South Florida for an incident back in May, and enter into a DUI diversion program.

Woods will enter the plea Friday for a May 29 arrest where officers found him unconscious in a parked car.

Woods has also agreed to enter into a diversion program for intoxicated drivers. He’ll spend a year on probation, pay a $250 fine and attend DUI school.

A toxicology report showed the 41-year-old Woods had the active ingredient for marijuana, two painkillers, a sleep drug and an anti-anxiety drug in his system when he was arrested. There was no alcohol, however.

Being ready for trial is always the best way to defend a DUI case, however, sometimes after pretrial negotiations, an alternative to a DUI plea can be reached. The most common plea that enables a DUI to be dropped is a reckless driving plea. There is a huge difference between a reckless driving charge and a DUI in Florida. DUI is an alcohol crime that stays on both your driving and your criminal records forever. Reckless driving is a non-alcohol specific traffic offense. If you are able to get your DUI charge dropped to a reckless driving charge, your record will show the DUI charges were dismissed and that you instead pled to the reckless driving traffic charge.

The biggest benefit to a reckless driving charge is that it carries no mandatory driver’s license suspension. Even a first time DUI charge can suspend your driver’s license for up to a year. This saves you the trouble of having to apply for a hardship license for some period of time and then paying the fees and taking the time to reinstate your driver’s license.

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A 32-year-old man was arrested on multiple charges early Friday after police said he crashed a U-Haul moving truck into a St. Pete Beach hotel.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the man drove the UHaul truck into the Hotel Zamora located at 3701 Gulf Boulevard just after midnight.  

Officials said the man then drove off from the area. He was arrested about two hours later.

When deputies arrived there was substantial structural damage to a hotel parking garage drop ceiling. Witnesses provided deputies with a description of the moving truck.

Shortly afterward, deputies stopped a 10 foot U-Haul truck with roof damage, driving north on Gulf Winds Drive at 64th Avenue in St. Pete Beach.

Officials said the man told them he attended a party at Hotel Zamora. After the party, the man was driving his passenger to her car in the parking garage when he struck the parking garage drop ceiling with the roof of the U-Haul truck.

The man apparently said he fled the scene and hid the truck in the area until deputies left the area. He said he was in the process of moving to Miami.

He is facing charges of leaving the scene of crash with property damage, one count of DUI, and one count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine).

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can lead to life-changing penalties. These charges are further complicated when a crash occurs resulting in property damage. A Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can make sure you understand your legal options and what to expect from the criminal justice system. We can walk you through every stage of the process, working with you to aggressively pursue your desired outcome.

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A 32-year-old woman is accused of crashing her car into another vehicle and then fleeing the scene with two boys in the back seat while driving under the influence, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Just after 10:30 p.m. Friday, deputies responded to a hit-and-run crash near the intersection of Boynton Beach Boulevard and State Road 7. They apparently spoke to a driver who said his car was rear-ended and that the other driver headed south on State Road 7.

Eventually, a deputy found a red Nissan Altima stopped on the side of the road with front-end damage with the 32-year-old woman behind the wheel, according to the report. In the backseat were a 11-year-old and 7-year-old.

While speaking with the woman, the deputy allegedly noted a smell of alcohol on her breath and that her words were slurred and her eyes were glassy.

The woman apparently submitted to a Breathalyzer tests showing her blood-alcohol level was nearly double the legal intoxication limit of 0.08. Her first test was allegedly 0.150 and the second was 0.146, according to the report.

The woman faces charges including DUI, child neglect and hit and run. She was released Saturday from the Palm Beach County Jail on $6,000 bond.

Being charged with DUI in Florida can be the start of a never-ending nightmare. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. There are not many things that can make the situation worse in such an event, but one of them is if you had a child or children in the vehicle when you were pulled over.

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The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, along with Clearwater Police, Gulfport Police, Largo Police, St. Pete Police, and Tarpon Springs Police, conducted a DUI Wolf Pack Sunday night.

The DUI Wolf Pack was conducted throughout Pinellas County in an effort to reduce DUI related injuries, deaths, and property damage.

The results of the DUI Wolf Pack are:

Criminal Charges:

12 DUI

3 Possession of a Controlled Substance (Misdemeanor)

2 Possession of a Controlled Substance (Felony)

2 Driving While License Suspended and/or Revoked with Knowledge (Misdemeanor)

1 Resisting Arrest Without Violence

1 Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing

Total Charges – 21

Citations:

36 Speeding

1 No Valid DL

14 Driving While License Suspended and/or revoked with Knowledge

8 No Valid Insurance

1 Violation Driver’s License Restrictions

1 Open Container

33 Other Non-Moving Violations

27 Other Moving Violations

Total Citations – 121

The goal of a Wolf Pack is to educate drivers and create public awareness about the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and any chemical or controlled substances.

“Wolf Pack” is the name the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office has given these enhanced DUI operations. Their increased patrols were undoubtedly due to the Labor Day holiday. Any time there is  a long holiday weekend, it is safe to assume that police will be conducting DUI checkpoints in an effort to arrest any impaired drivers.

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New toxicology reports released show Tiger Woods had pain, anxiety and sleep medications in his system as well as THC when he was arrested on Memorial Day in Palm Beach County, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Woods told law enforcement at the time of his arrest that he was taking the painkiller Vicodin after a recent back surgery and also had a prescription for Xanax.

He was found asleep on the side of a road in his 2015 Mercedes-Benz with damage to the front and rear driver’s side tires.

Last week Woods entered a DUI first-offender program.

His arraignment is set for Oct. 25.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is an issue that is raising concerns throughout the country, including Florida. Detecting marijuana in the system is much different than the procedures for alcohol testing. You can read more about that here. Detecting marijuana involves blood or urine testing to discover if THC, the ingredient that purportedly contains psychoactive qualities, in the body.

Proving marijuana intoxication can be somewhat of a challenge for prosecutors as law enforcement is divided on how to efficiently detect a person who is impaired by marijuana. Where a field sobriety test may determine alcohol impairment, it could be inefficient in determining marijuana intoxication. A person who is impaired by alcohol may show signs through slurred speech, slower reaction time, or uncoordinated movements.Someone who is under the influence of marijuana may not have any tell-tale signs. For these reasons, the laws that apply to alcohol intoxication may not be appropriate for marijuana intoxication.

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A fiery crash on the Selmon Expressway killed a child and two adults, and led to the arrest of a 29-year-old Brandon woman for DUI.

The woman is accused of leaving the scene of the crash and she faces a litany of charges after she apparently lost control of her car near the Bay to Bay and Euclid exit and “touched off a chain reaction of crashes,” leading to the deaths of two adults and one child, according to police.

Witnesses allege they saw the woman driving at a “high rate of speed,” eastbound on the expressway. Reports indicate they said she tried to pass at least two vehicles going in the same direction, lost control of her vehicle and slammed into the back of a Hyundai occupied by the three victims. The Hyundai then spun out of control through the grass median and into the westbound lanes where it was struck by a Jeep and an Infinity SUV.  The vehicle came to a final rest in the westbound lanes and burst into flames, according to police.

The woman is accused of leaving the scene. Law enforcement caught up with her shortly after the crash when her car broke down near Willow Avenue and Platt Street.

According to reports, her speech was slurred, and police said she admitted to using anxiety medications Lexapro and Ativan before getting behind the wheel, and she allegedly failed a field sobriety test after demonstrating clues of impairment.

She was taken into custody and transported to Tampa General Hospital where her blood was taken for alcohol testing. According to police, once they administered the blood tests, the woman tried to remove her vials of blood and hide them in her underwear, which lead them to charging her with tampering with physical evidence.

The woman has been charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash with death, leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury and tampering with physical evidence.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. When added to driving under the influence, charges and penalties will become escalated. While a simple DUI may only be a misdemeanor, the offense can become more serious when there are additional factors, like fleeing the scene of the accident.

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