A Seminole man faces a charge of DUI after the Florida Highway Patrol claims he was driving the wrong way on Interstate 275 for nearly eight miles in St. Petersburg early Monday morning.

According to troopers, the 26-year-old was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of the highway around 4 a.m. and made it about eight miles without crashing before he was pulled over by St. Petersburg Police.

The man was eventually pulled over near Roosevelt Boulevard after he was initially seen driving the wrong direction at the 5th Avenue North exit, troopers said.

He faces charges of DUI and possession of a controlled substance and is being held at the Pinellas County Jail with bail set at $2,500.

When you are charged with DUI, you must take these charges seriously. There are possible defenses to beat these charges, but you need legal help, and the sooner the better. A Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can review the facts of your case and collect any pertinent evidence to assist with your case. We will also make sure that police followed proper protocols when making your arrest. If any procedural errors did occur, we can work to have the charges against you dropped.

 

Continue reading

Lisa Edgar, who served 12 years on the Florida Public Service Commission before a brief stint as state parks director, was arrested Saturday on two charges each of DUI with property damage and leaving the scene of a crash with more than $50 in property damage.

According to reports, the Florida Highway Patrol troopers received a call about 11 p.m. from a motorist who said a Mercedes Benz was unable to stay in its lane on Centerville Road in Tallahassee and hit his driver’s side mirror. Troopers said they later determined the Mercedes was driven by Edgar, who lives in Tallahassee.

Reports indicate that Edgar, 53, pulled over at first and spoke to the other driver before abruptly rolling up her window and driving away. Other motorists apparently called law enforcement to say that the Mercedes was driving erratically and running people off the roadway.

Edgar resigned in February as Florida park’s director after just two months on the job, citing a family emergency. Edgar had earlier served three terms on the PSC, which regulates Florida utilities. She was appointment in 2005 by then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Continue reading

There could be more severe penalties on the way for first time drunk driving offenders.

A bill that would require an ignition interlock device on someone’s vehicle after their first drunken driving conviction has passed its first committee in the Florida House of Representatives.

The bill (HB 949) passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Tuesday. It must go through two more committees before reaching the House floor.

The interlock device prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The current law makes it mandatory for six months for a first offense if the person’s blood alcohol content is higher than 0.15 percent or a minor is in the vehicle. The devices are also mandatory for multiple DUIs.

Florida would join 28 other states and the District of Columbia with similar laws.

Ignition interlock devices prevent cars from being started unless drivers can prove that no alcohol is in their system. How is this done? There is a built-in breathalyzer that forces you to blow into it in order to drive as long as you are 100 percent sober. Avid supporters of the new bill believe ignition interlocks are vital because a third of all drunk drivers arrested or convicted are repeat offenders, and the average drunk driver is believed to have driven drunk at least 80 times before a first arrest.

This new law will require Florida judges to order ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders for at least six months.

Continue reading

A 33-year-old Lakeland man has been charged with DUI manslaughter after his father died from his injuries in a January crash.

The man was already in Polk County Jail after the crash, which occurred Jan. 21.

At that time, the man had been charged with DUI leaving scene involving bodily injury.

The man’s father was hospitalized after the crash and died on March 27, according to reports.

Authorities announced the new charge against the man on Tuesday.

The man’s father suffered multiple broken bones in the crash and was being treated at Lakeland Regional Health before he died.

Facing charges that deal with taking someone else’s life is terrifying. DUI Manslaughter charges carry serious lifelong penalties that will follow you around forever. Because of the severity of these charges, you need to enlist legal help as soon as possible, so that you can have the best defense strategy possible.

Continue reading

A new study shows that going without sleep leaves you basically drunk.

Staying awake for 24 hours puts you at the equivalent of a .1% blood alcohol content as you drive to work, make decisions and interact with others. Scary, right?

At 17 hours without sleep, you are at .08% blood alcohol level, according to researchers. After 17 hours without sleep, coordination deteriorates, irritability sets in, and pain becomes more acute and the immune system suffers, which means the body is more open to infection. However, the scary part is that a person has a complete lack of judgement at this point and thinks they can drive home, go to work or do whatever they need to with no problems.

The effects worsen past 24 hours without sleep, according to researchers. The brain starts shutting down in trance-like microsleeps, 15- to 30-second spells that occur without the person noticing. Eventually, not sleeping results in death.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving caused 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths from 2009 to 2013. Nearly one-third of all drivers admitted to driving drowsy within the previous month in a 2015 AAA poll.

A lot of people assume that caffeine will keep them up, but that is not entirely correct. It takes an hour for caffeine to kick in, so if you are drowsy, pull over for a bit and take break. Your body is telling you that it could use the rest.

DUI laws have always been aggressive in Florida and have only gotten more strict over the years. Currently, there are many states throughout the country pushing to lower the legal limit from .08% BAC to .05%. That state of Utah actually made this a new law just last week. A BAC of .05% is the equivalent of about two beers, to put it into perspective.

Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, so we all know that means more people will be partaking in shenanigans this holiday weekend.

St. Patty’s Day is the fourth most popular drinking holiday, behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Independence Day. Every year, more than 33 million Americans celebrate by drinking pints of Guinness or green beer.

As with any holiday, St. Patrick’s Day can lead to some bad judgement calls, including choosing to drink and drive. While St. Patrick’s Day is a time for celebrating the luck of the Irish, a DUI can put a serious damper on your good time. A DUI conviction brings you anything but luck, including fines, jail time and loss of driving privileges. Not to mention that you put yourself and the lives of everyone sharing the roadways with you in extreme danger when you drink and drive. Reports indicate that on St. Patrick’s Day, there is a fatal alcohol-related accident every 74 minutes.

Instead of driving, plan another way home in advance. An Uber, Lyft or taxi ride is just a phone call away. Public transportation options are also available, depending on where you choose to celebrate.

If you are arrested this St. Patrick’s Day, or any other day for that matter, and charged with a DUI, it is best to retain legal counsel right away. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will be available 24/7 this St. Patrick’s Day weekend should you find yourself detained for DUI.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Contact Information