A Florida Highway Patrol trooper has been sent to the Volusia County jail for five days after a judge was forced to dismiss a DUI case when he failed to show up for the trial last month.
The man’s absence at trial on Oct. 30 resulted in an acquittal of DUI charges for a motorist with an alleged history of drunk driving.
Before the case was dismissed, court workers apparently tried to locate the trooper.
He did not answer telephone calls or knocks on the door of his home.
The 41-year-old may be the first member of the FHP jailed for contempt of court.
Troopers that fail to appear in court generally undergo administrative investigations. The case against the man remains open, however records indicate that he notified FHP on Nov. 5 that he plans to resign and move out of state.
The man is known for being a reliable trooper since joining the FHP in 2007.
The DUI case began last Dec. 3 around 2 a.m. when a 26-year-old Jacksonville woman was stopped for allegedly driving erratically at 92 miles per hour on Interstate 4.
The trooper claims the woman smelled of alcohol and that an empty bottle of 99-proof watermelon liqueur was found behind the driver’s seat.
The woman apparently failed a series of field sobriety tests. She submitted to a breath test which showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.192.
She was charged with DUI, the same crime she was previously convicted of in 2009. If convicted of a second DUI with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15, she would have faced up to one year in jail and would have lost her driver’s license for five years for a second conviction within five years of her first.
While there are some criminal cases that can hold up in court without testimony from the arresting officer, DUIs are not one of them. This is due to the fact that the arresting officer’s observations are a crucial piece of evidence for the State’s case. Prosecutors can enter findings from a police report into evidence, but the officer must show up at trial to corroborate the initial arrest report. When an officer fails to show up in court, DUI charges are likely to be dropped.
A trooper failing to appear in court is typically a career-ending offense. With that said, it is usually rare for a law enforcement officer to not show up at trial. A person charged with DUI should consult with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible following their arrest. A prompt investigation into your case could reveal favorable evidence on your behalf that could lead to your charges being reduced or dismissed entirely.
A Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you fight your DUI arrest, no matter how severe the charges. You always have options, and we can begin assisting you immediately. If you have been charged with DUI anywhere in the state of Florida, contact us today online or call us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.