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Articles Posted in Alachua County

From cookouts and family get-togethers to concerts and parades, Memorial Day weekend is a time for remembrance and celebration. Like any holiday, law enforcement will be out in full force this weekend looking for intoxicated drivers, so partygoers should exercise extra caution to avoid criminal charges.

memorial dayGiven the extent of potential consequences, it is in everyone’s best interest to try and avoid a DUI charge during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. The following tips can help you prevent an unnecessary DUI charge:

  1. Use Alternate Transportation. Alternate modes of transportation, such as taxis, buses or even car services like Lyft and Uber can prevent you from driving under the influence and help you have an enjoyable holiday weekend.
  2. Try to Stay Within Walking Distance of Your Destination. Travel risks are increased during holiday seasons whether you have been drinking or not. When venturing away from the home, try and stay within walking distance so that you are not tempted to get behind the wheel after consuming a few alcoholic beverages.
  3. Never Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Many people fail to realize that DUI laws do not just apply to those who have been drinking alcohol. Any substance that can lead to intoxication, including marijuana and prescription pills, can result in a DUI charge if you decide to drive.

The above safety tips can help you and those closest to you stay safe this holiday weekend. However, if you are stopped for a DUI it is important to know how to react. It can be frightening to be stopped by law enforcement, but being prepared can help you get through this experience unscathed. Understand that during busy holidays, like Memorial Day, police usually set up checkpoints throughout the state and will be stopping drivers. If you get stopped this weekend, remember the following tips:

Stay Calm. Anytime you are pulled over you should remain calm. While you may be anxious or scared, staying cool and collected is the best way to handle the situation.

Know Your Rights. Reviewing and understanding your rights is crucial in order to protect yourself. If you know nothing else, remember that you have the right to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.

Contact a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer. A Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can assist with your defense following an arrest for DUI. We can also make sure your rights remain protected throughout the entire legal process.

Retaining an attorney is just the first step towards resolving your DUI case. At Whittel & Melton, we can review all the evidence against you and scrutinize every detail of your case in order to map out the best course of action. Every DUI charge involves different factors with time-sensitive requirements that must be met, so do not delay.

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The University of Central Florida has become the No. 1 area in Orange County for DUI reports.

Police believe DUI reports are becoming more of a problem due to the recent developments of new restaurants and popular bars around UCF campus.

In 2013, a total of 209 underage drivers were arrested and charged with DUIs by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. This is a whopping 48 percent increase from 2012. Of these arrests, 91 were made by OCSO within 2 miles of UCF, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the total arrests in Orange County. Moreover, more than 50 percent of these arrests involved UCF students.

DUI walkIn zone 22, which is where UCF is located, between Oct. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, a total of  168 arrests were made by state deputies and troopers. Another 15 arrests were made by the UCF Police Department.

During this same six-month period in 2013 to 2014, 244 arrests were made by state deputies and troopers, and 39 arrests were made by UCFPD. For Orange County, this is a 45 percent increase from last year. For UCFPD, this is a 160 percent increase.

The UCFPD made 63 DUI arrests in 2013, and 38 administrative suspensions were given to people under the age of 21 who were stopped and had more than a .02 breath alcohol content. Current reports indicate that UCFPD has made 17 DUI arrests this year.

Even when comparing these numbers to other counties and college areas in Florida such as Alachua County, where the University of Florida is located, Orange County and UCF still take first place.

According to the records bureau chief for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has 199 offense reports associated with impaired or reckless driver related incidents in 2013. Of these 199, nine occurred within 2 miles of the University of Florida, 82 reports less than UCF. At Florida State University in Tallahassee, from May 2013 to May 2014 there were only three reports within 2 miles of the college, 88 less than UCF.

A recent study conducted by the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health reported that one out of every five college students has admitted to getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, when you are arrested for DUI as a student, there are many serious ramifications that accompany a DUI conviction that could follow you around for the rest of your life.

Just like anyone else arrested for DUI, college students facing these charges could possibly serve jail time, have their driver’s licenses suspended, be placed on probation, ordered to partake in community service and pay large fines. However, you could be looking at additional penalties as a college student, including having your student loans or grants revoked or possibly getting kicked out of school. Due to the serious consequences associated with a DUI, you must get legal help as soon as possible. A Florida DUI Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help you achieve the best possible outcome following a DUI arrest.

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A University of Florida football player was arrested last month for DUI on a scooter.

The Florida freshman walk-on punter was arrested in the early morning hours on June 29 and charged with driving under the influence.

The 19-year-old was arrested by Gainesville Police after allegedly running a stop sign on his scooter.

Police claim he ran the stop sign early Saturday morning, right in front of a Gainesville
Police officer who was about to make his way through the intersection.

According to the police report, once the student saw the police car, he swerved and almost fell off his scooter.

Police say he was able to recover and steady the motor scooter, and then pulled out his cell phone and attempted to drive away.

The police officer followed the freshman to a nearby parking garage and stopped him.

The arrest report notes that the student smelled strongly of alcohol and had watery, bloodshot eyes that appeared to be extremely dilated.

The 19-year-old, who turns 20 in September, reportedly refused multiple sobriety tests and apparently told police he did not live in Gainesville.

1058830_scooter.jpgReports indicate that he denied he was drinking, but did admit to being at a local bar.

The freshman was booked into the Alachua County Jail around 4:30 a.m. that morning.
There has been no news on what disciplinary action will be enforced from Gator Head Coach Will Muschamp and the team.

While the allegations against this Florida football player have yet to be proved, if you have a few drinks at a bar and opt to driver your scooter home thinking this will save you from a possible DUI, you are sadly mistaken. Driving a scooter with a blood alcohol level at 0.08 or above could lead to you being charged with DUI. In the state of Florida the term “vehicle” does not simply mean a car, truck or SUV. In fact, mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters and even lawn mowers are considered “vehicles” under state DUI laws.

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A 26-year-old former University of Florida baseball player has sued the Gainesville Police Department for more than $75,000 in damages over a January 2009 DUI arrest that was later thrown out due to lack of evidence.

The man alleges that the two arresting officers created false information in their report in order to increase their number of DUI arrests.

In a federal lawsuit, the man claims his arrest resulted in his suspension from the baseball team which caused him to fall in the Major League Baseball draft.

The two former Gainesville police officers that arrested the man are named defendants.

According to the arrest report, the man was arrested on Jan. 24, 2009 after his vehicle allegedly crossed the double yellow line on University Avenue and into oncoming traffic nearly causing a head-on collision.

The report also indicated the man had slurred speech and trouble maintaining his balance once he exited the vehicle.

The case was dropped by the State Attorney’s Office in 2009 because the footage from the police-car video did not validate any of the allegations against the man.

The lawsuit argues that the two arresting officers “prepared false incident reports,” including information about the man crossing into oncoming traffic and having trouble standing when exiting his vehicle.

Unfortunately, there are numerous people arrested and subsequently convicted of crimes that they did not necessarily commit due to overzealous police officers. Wrongful arrests can negatively impact a person’s life in many ways, so it is extremely important for law enforcement officials to be entirely certain an actual crime has been committed before making an arrest. It is important to be aware that a person wrongfully arrested for DUI has legal rights. In fact, they may be able to recover for any damages that the wrongful arrest caused.

Wrongful arrests by police officers usually occur due to lack of probable cause. When a person is detained for committing an alleged crime and there is not sufficient proof that can support the arrest, this may establish that a false arrest was made. Police can and do make false arrests, which is why you should contact a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton if you believe that you were falsely arrested for DUI. In order to best protect yourself, no statements of any kind should be made until you have retained legal counsel.

In many DUI cases, video footage can corroborate whether a DUI suspect’s behavior matches what was written in the actual arrest report. If the actions displayed on the video tape of the arrest contradict what was written in a police officer’s report, prosecutors will likely dismiss the DUI case entirely. However, even if the charges against you are thrown out, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. If a false arrest is proven, police personnel may be required to pay financial compensation to the victim for damages such as the value lost from a tarnished reputation and punitive damages such as ill will and malice.

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A 29-year-old Gainesville man allegedly told police he fled the scene of an accident Tuesday because he was afraid of having an accident of another kind.

The man’s car apparently rammed into another vehicle and some newspaper boxes at about 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday.

According to police, the man fled the scene and was found a few minutes later at a nearby Walmart store.

Police claim his breath and clothing smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and watery.

According to the report, he declined a breathalyzer test and told police he was not aware he had hit someone and had pulled into the next stop to use the bathroom.

He was charged with DUI, hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.

It is illegal in the state of Florida to flee the scene of an accident without leaving proper identification and insurance information. In an accident resulting in injury or death, you are required by law to stop and provide aid. Failure to abide by these laws can result in criminal charges being filed against you.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense carrying varying penalties depending on the specifics of the situation. When combined with a DUI charge, the penalties can increase vastly. For the prosecution to prove guilt in a case like this, they must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

• The accused was driving the vehicle
• The accused caused the auto collision
• The accused was aware or should have been aware an accident took place
• The accused had an unlawful blood alcohol concentration or had normal faculties that were
impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination of these
• The accused intentionally fled the scene of the auto accident without rendering aid or exchanging information with other parties involved
Penalties associated with charges like these can result in prison time, license suspension and heavy fines. If you have been involved in a drunk driving incident, it is imperative to have a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer on your side to take the proper steps to try and improve your unique legal situation. At Whittel & Melton, we can conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf in an effort to reveal any points that may be used in your favor. Whether your case can be negotiated out of court or demands a trial, we can act in your best interests and fight to protect your rights.

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A 41-year-old Alachua, Florida resident was arrested Jan. 26 for DUI after she allegedly rammed into the back of a semi-trailer and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

No one was apparently injured.

The woman allegedly provided two samples of a breath test that registered .262 and .264. Florida law presumes anyone with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher to be intoxicated.

The woman was booked into the Alachua County jail.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Alachua County or throughout the state of Florida, there are a few things you should know. Many times prosecutors for the State will approach you at your first court appearance and push you towards giving up your rights to a Florida DUI Attorney. This is often done so that they can resolve their cases faster. In the end, prosecutors may be able to persuade people to sign their rights away and accept a plea deal for their DUI case. However, it is important to be aware that you have the right to review police reports, videos or photographs, breath or blood test results, DHSMV records and other documents pertaining to your DUI. There is absolutely nothing wrong with requesting to view them.

The Florida DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton firmly believe that those who are facing criminal DUI charges deserve to know the evidence stacked against them. Those accused of a Florida DUI have the right to know whether or not deputies acted inappropriately or violated any laws or rights. If your rights were violated, this could be grounds for a dismissal of any charges before your case makes it to trial. However, without a Florida DUI Attorney you may never know if your case can be won. For these reasons, it is best to consult with the Florida DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton immediately following your arrest.

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A 37-year-old Marion County resident faces charges of DUI, reckless driving and child neglect after allegedly driving drunk and nearly colliding into two police cruisers with a child in tow.

The Ocala woman was arrested in Gainesville Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m. after a police officer supposedly witnessed the woman driving without her headlights on and almost crashing into a patrol car in the median. According to the officer’s report, the woman almost crashed into another police unit head-on before being pulled over.

The woman’s 9-year-old daughter was reportedly asleep in the back seat without a seat belt on.
According to the report, the woman allegedly believed she was in Ocala. Her blood alcohol content was recorded as .151.

Being accused of driving drunk in the state of Florida is a grave offense that needs to be attacked immediately following your citation for DUI. You could face serious consequences including jail time, points on your license, court costs, fines and DUI School. Increased penalties apply for a Florida DUI when a child is present in the vehicle; a situation like this could double your jail time and fines.

Following your citation for DUI, you can still drive legally for 10 days from when you were ticketed. After the 10 days are up, your license is administratively suspended. By contacting Whittel & Melton right away, we can request an administrative hearing within these 10 days to challenge whether there was probable cause to seize your license. In all DUI matters it is important to act fast and not wait to handle any matters associated with the charges.

Reckless driving is a lesser included offense for DUI. In many cases a skilled attorney can get your DUI reduced to reckless driving when the prosecutor’s case is weak or lacks the evidence needed to prove DUI. If you are found guilty of reckless driving, your license typically will not be suspended nor will you have a DUI on your record.

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A Waldo, Florida homeless man arrested for cycling under the influence (DUI) Monday has also been charged with making videotaped threats against the officer who arrested him and against the officer’s family.

The 49-year-old man was noticed by a Waldo police officer around 8 p.m. struggling to control his bike and running a stop sign.

After the man was stopped by the officer he released some jail paperwork as a means to identify himself. The officer performed several breath tests on the man which resulted in registered blood alcohol levels of .158 and .149.

The man was arrested and placed in the backseat of the patrol car where the in-car video camera allegedly captured him threatening the officer through statements about sexual assaults on his family members and hiring someone to shoot a shotgun in his presence.

The man has served three prison terms since 1987 for convictions of escape, trafficking in stolen property and burglary with assault.

The man was charged with DUI and corruption by threat against a public servant and transported to the Alachua County jail.

Florida law provides the most zealous of prosecutors an avenue to prosecute folks for DUI when riding a bike with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. In Florida, the driver of a vehicle who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more or while normal faculties are impaired can be found guilty of DUI. Not all states recognize a bicycle as a proper vehicle for prosecuting a DUI, however, Florida has a tradition which includes DUI convictions for bikes, golf carts, scooters, mopeds, motorized wheel chairs and even horses, yes, I said horses.

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Around 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, a Gainesville, Florida man was arrested with charges of driving under the influence and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the parking lot of a Taco Bell restaurant. The man supposedly threatened another man in the parking lot with a handgun.

The Gainesville, FL man charged with DUI and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon allegedly pointed his handgun outfitted with a laser sight at a man who passed his vehicle in order to enter the drive-thru lane.

A Gainesville Police officer responded to the scene and performed a field sobriety test on the man, which he reportedly failed. A breath sample was also apparently provided that indicated the man was beyond the legal level for alcohol, according to an arrest report. The officer recovered a loaded semi-automatic handgun with laser sight from the Gainesville man’s pocket, according to the Gainesville Sun.

In Alachua County, if you wish to dispute your DUI suspension you have only 10 days from the time you were arrested to appeal the instantaneous suspension. Unlike criminal charges, DUI arrests are unique in the eyes of Florida law. Depending on the circumstances leading up to a DUI arrest and the defendant’s prior record, the case can have many possible conclusions.

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Fast food can be very bad for you, but who knew this bad? Yesterday, a woman mistook a police officer for a Sonic car hop and as a result, was charged with DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia. According to the Associated Press, a 911 caller reported the woman after she nearly struck several vehicles before pulling into the drive-in.

When they arrived, law enforcement found the woman slumped over the steering wheel. When a female officer tried to get the woman’s attention, the woman handed her a $20 bill, continuing to offer it even the officer identified herself. The woman was arrested and the officer found a syringe, a spoon with white powdery residue and numerous bottles of prescription medicine in the car.

While this is a case from Tennessee, it is important to know that the State of Florida has signed on to an Interstate Driver’s License Compact in conjunction with approximately 45 states and the District of Columbia. What does this mean for a driver from another state who is arrested for DUI in Florida? Florida DUI conviction will likely be reported to your home state, which as a result of the Florida conviction, will usually take steps to suspend your driver’s license.

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