Articles Posted in DUI

A 68-year-old Haines City man was charged with his third DUI over the weekend after allegedly crashing a lawn mower into a Haines City Police Department vehicle.

The police department said that an officer was tending to a matter on Saturday when a man on a lawn mower crashed into the back of his patrol vehicle.

According to the report, the officer heard a loud noise and walked outside to find the accused on a lawn mower with an attached trailer and noticed minor damage to the rear of the police vehicle.

The man apparently admitted to hitting the police vehicle and said he was drunk. Police said his demeanor ranged from laughing to aggressive.

After failing to complete the field sobriety tests, according to police, the man was taken to the Haines City Police Department where they said he claimed that he had been poisoned by police and asked to be taken to a hospital.

The man was then transported to Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Davenport, where he provided a breath sample. Police said his blood-alcohol concentration was .241, which is more than three times the legal limit.

There was also cocaine is his system, according to the report, which he accused police of putting into his system.

Police said the man’s driver’s license has been suspended since March 1978 and that he has two previous DUI convictions, with the last one coming in 1987 in Osceola County.

Under Florida’s DUI laws, even a lawn mower is classified as a “motor vehicle.” You can essentially receive a DUI for being intoxicated while operating anything that moves. While it may be surprising, you can receive a DUI for boating under the influence, biking under the influence, operating a forklift or lawnmower under the influence, and even riding a horse under the influence.

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A breathalyzer that is able to determine if a driver smoked pot could be ready for use in select cities starting in the fall, according to a company developing the first-of-its-kind product.

With recreational weed now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, California-based Hound Labs Inc. has created a marijuana-breathalyzer it says will make roads safer and hold drivers accountable. The company claims the device is hypersensitive, allowing it to pick up any THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — potentially present on drivers’ breath.

Currently, officers who suspect a driver is impaired can only test the hunch with field sobriety tests. Blood, breath or urine samples could be taken to determine if a driver is high, but such tests can be inaccurate. Those tests also detect if the driver was high that day or week, rather than if they were high while operating the vehicle in that instance.

Tools such as Hound Labs’ alcohol-and-marijuana breathalyzer or Canadian company Cannabix Technologies Inc.’s THC breathalyzer aim to present an objective determination of recent marijuana use.

Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above .08 percent are considered under the influence of alcohol or driving while impaired. Driving under the influence of marijuana is a subject that seems up for debate when it comes to determining impairment.

For Hound Labs’ breathalyzers, that qualification is marked by timing. Though the company’s breathalyzers can determine how much marijuana is in someone’s breath, the actual level of THC is not as relevant as recency of use for determining whether an individual is high, according to their research.

THC only stays in breath during the “peak window of impairment,” about one to two hours after smoking marijuana, according to Hound Labs. The level of THC found in breath samples drops to zero at three hours after smoking, the company’s research found.

When an individual blows into the breathalyzer, it can determine within a couple minutes whether there is alcohol, THC or both in the person’s system. Since THC is only present in someone’s breath during that peak two-hour window, the driver is considered impaired when it’s detected.

The breathalyzer would then display “Warning” if THC is detected and “Pass” if it is not.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any combination of these. A DUI marijuana charge is just as serious as a DUI charge involving alcohol, even if they are charged as misdemeanor offenses. With this type of conviction on your record, your ability to obtain employment may be limited, obtaining insurance will be difficult and your premiums will absolutely go up. If you are ever convicted of another DUI, the penalties attached to a conviction will likely be enhanced.

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The Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps received a plea deal after drunkenly assaulting a Florida police officer and repeatedly threatening to kill him on December 23, 2017.

In exchange for prosecutors dropping the felony charge of resisting an officer with violence, the former Countess was required to follow the guidelines of her probation, which included not drinking and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

For the second time this year, her New York probation officer has filed documents stating Luann is not taking her probation seriously, and recently failed a test for alcohol consumption.

In a Compact Action Request form sent to authorities in Florida from the state of New York, it reveals that Luann tested positive for alcohol on April 22. Luann admitted that “she had 2 glasses of mimosas after a performance [of her burlesque show] in Chicago.”

After she failed her test, the 53-year-old reality star was “offered the opportunity to immediately enroll in outpatient treatment,” but Luann insisted that her current touring schedule would interfere with her treatment participation.

Luann was also “given the option to be fitted with alcohol ankle monitoring device,” but she said the device would be too “intrusive” while performing.

The conflicts between Luann’s work and travel requirements and her probation stipulations are what motivated the state of New York to inquire what Florida would like them to do about the situation.

The Florida Department of Corrections responded by summarizing the situation before presenting the following conclusion:

This is the second notification of other state violation that has been submitted. The subject has failed to provide sufficient documentation of completed AA meetings which she was ordered to complete 2 AA meetings per week. At the time of this writing [April 24], only 5 have been received. It appears to affiant that the subject is not serious about her sobriety or the orders of this Court. As stated on previous notification, the subject has used her unlimited travel as a reason to be noncompliant with her conditions of supervision.

The judge has decided that further action is required. His recent instructions were to “provide Affidavit and violation report, schedule VOP (Notice to Appear) hearing, and instruct offender to return to Florida for hearing.”

Qualifying for probation means the system is giving you a second chance. Breaking the conditions of your probation is a serious matter that could result in grave consequences. Any hearings you attend will not be the same as a criminal trial, because in the eyes of the law you have already admitted guilt, so you will be treated as such. This is why you need the help of a Florida DUI Probation Violation Attorney at Whittel & Melton. We will do everything in our power to keep you out of jail.

Probation is an alternative sentence structure to incarceration after you have been found guilty of a crime. To successfully complete the program you must adhere to the guidelines put in place by the sentencing court or the parole board. If you violate any conditions of your probation, you could be looking at jail time.

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Actor Tim Williams, who is best known for being the face of German discount travel website Trivago, has been arrested for allegedly driving drunk in Houston, Texas.

On Wednesday around 3:15 p.m., Williams, 52, was allegedly found passed out at the wheel of a car, according to reports.

Police say Williams’ foot was on the brake and he was in a moving lane of traffic.

After being stopped, police gave Williams a sobriety test, which he allegedly failed.

Williams has since been charged with driving while intoxicated. According to court documents, a mental health evaluation has been requested for Williams.

The actor was later released on a $100 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on April 17.

A DUI arrest can have serious consequences on your driving privileges and on your criminal record. If convicted, you could face severe penalties and hefty fines worth thousands of dollars, not to mention jail time, depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest.

Florida DUI laws change constantly. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, it is absolutely vital that you seek aggressive DUI defense. Our Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the knowledge and skill to help you fight a DUI conviction.

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Most Americans are familiar with the retail day “Black Friday,” the hugely discounted shopping event the day after Thanksgiving when consumers flock to stores across the country. But not as many people are aware of “Black Wednesday,” or “Blackout Wednesday.”

This is the evening before Thanksgiving, which has become one of the biggest party nights of the year. With that said, there are more drunk driving arrests this day than even Christmas or New Year’s in some areas.

College students and young professionals typically head home for Thanksgiving, making it a convenient time to catch up with old friends. Most people get Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week off from work, so this makes drinking more appealing as there is plenty of time to beat a hangover with ease.

Crowds aren’t the only thing Black Wednesday has in common with According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in four out of the last five years for which data is available, Thanksgiving weekend surpassed the New Year’s holiday in the number of traffic fatalities related to alcohol consumption.

Black Wednesday is just the start of a heavy DUI enforcement period that runs through New Year’s Day. Every year, Florida and other states hold formalized drunk driving crackdowns through the holidays. The nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign runs from Dec. 14, 2018 through Jan. 1, 2019 this year.

As you kick off the holiday season on Black Wednesday, our Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to remember that planning a sober ride home is always the best idea. However, if you do find yourself in trouble with the law after having one too many, we will be here to help you through this stressful time.

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Over this next week and through Labor Day weekend, Tampa Bay area cops are stepping up their focus on identifying and arresting impaired drivers.

Because these types of three-day weekends can bring out more drunk drivers, Labor Day is particularly known for impaired drivers and the fatal accidents caused by them.

This DUI crackdown is occurring in conjunction with the national Labor Day DUI enforcement effort known as Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which started on August 17 and will continue through September 2.

Now that you know that cops are going to be out in force over this next week – not just in Tampa, but throughout the U.S., here are a few reminders to get you through this Labor Day weekend:

  • Plan your ride ahead of time. If you know you’ll be drinking, start making plans now for how you will get home safe.
  • If you do happen to get get stopped by police over this weekend, don’t admit to drinking alcohol and don’t take field sobriety tests if you won’t pass them. Be polite and invoke your right to legal counsel.
  • If you end up being arrested for a DUI, call our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton at 813-221-3200. We can help you start protecting and defending your rights.

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This year the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday, which means many people will have a short workweek. If you are one of the lucky workers that will enjoy having most of the week off, enjoy your midsummer mini-vacation. Our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton do not want you to celebrate in the  very worst way – in jail because you have been arrested for a DUI.

Here are some tips that you may not be aware of regarding the 4th of July holiday and DUIs:

 

  • Increased DUI checkpoints: Every year,  especially in the Tampa Bay area, law enforcement set up more DUI checkpoints on this holiday. These checkpoints are legal, and you can be stopped regardless of reasonable suspicion.
  • DUI arrests nationwide increase over the 4th of July holiday: According to NHTSA, over the 2016 Fourth of July holiday, 188 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. This was a  28% increase from 2015 (146 fatalities).Nearly half of those who died were in a vehicle crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .15 or higher – almost twice the legal limit. Also, remember that driving with illegal substances, including prescription medications may result in a DUI arrest.
  • You May Spend Some Extra Time in a Holding Cell: A long weekend is welcomed time off for most of us.  However, if you are arrested for DUI it could mean an extended weekend in jail. If you are arrested on a weekend, the court system is also not working or at less than full staff, so you may not see a judge until Monday or Tuesday.

 

Our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton encourage you to enjoy your holiday. Please keep these tips in mind when you are behind the wheel or thinking about driving this 4th of July.

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During the Memorial Day holiday, people come to Florida from all over the country to enjoy three days of relaxation and fun.Whatever your plans, there is a risk of being pulled over for a DUI. Drunk driving rates are high during this holiday weekend, and make no mistake, police are on the lookout.

With an estimated 34,800,000 people traveling on May 29th, Memorial Day is one of the most dangerous times to drive all year. That large number of people on the road presents many hazards, including road rage and traffic jams. When you add drunk drivers in the mix it is easy to see why this weekend ranks number one in traffic accidents and fatalities. With the increased amount of drunk driving that occurs on Memorial Day, police have gone to drastic measures to this dangerous activity.

During Memorial Day weekend, police set up DUI checkpoints to make roads safer. These checkpoints use a pattern for stopping drivers. Police might choose to stop every fifth car that drives by. During these stops, officers are on high alert to detain anyone thought to be drunk behind the wheel. Their senses could be so elevated that they might detect things that are not there. They might arrest someone because they believe they smell alcohol on their breath, even if the accused’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is under the legal limit of .08 percent.

If you are in a heavily populated area of Florida, you should be able to use a taxi or rideshare program to completely eliminate the risk of a DUI charge. With Uber or Lyft, you can simply request a car ride with your phone. Keep this in mind, it is far more cost effective to spend $30 for a couple rides than to pay $2,500 for a DUI fine.

Should you find yourself facing a DUI this Memorial Day weekend, do not panic. Our Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you fight to get your charges reduced or eliminated. We can help you understand your best defense options, so that you may be able to avoid jail time and other harsh consequences. Obtaining the right legal representation can be the difference between having a criminal record and getting your charges dropped. We will do whatever we can to present your case in the best possible light.

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The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office conducted a DUI Wolf Pack Cinco de Mayo weekend in an effort to reduce DUI related injuries and deaths.

The Florida Highway Patrol, Gulfport Police Department, Largo Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department, and the St. Petersburg Police Department also took part in the DUI Wolf Pack operation.

The results are as follows:

40 Total Criminal Charges:

  • 22 DUI
  • 10 Felony Drug Charges
  • 2 Misdemeanor Drug Charges
  • 3 DWLSR Arrest
  • 3 Other Misdemeanor Arrest

121 Total Citations:

  • 4 DWLSR
  • 4 No Insurance
  • 45 Speeding Tickets
  • 1 Seat Belt
  • 1 Child Restraint
  • 1 DL Restriction
  • 3 Open Container
  • 19 Non-Moving Violations
  • 21 Moving Violations
  • 22 DUI Citations

The operation was part of the Sheriff’s Office ongoing commitment to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to drunk and drugged driving. 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.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting DUI Wolf Packs continuously throughout the year.

When police amp up their enforcement, the need for a good DUI defense attorney increases. Mistakes can easily be made and it is important to have a good, solid defense. In some DUI cases, a skilled attorney can help you get the charges reduced or dropped. Our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are more than familiar with the drunk driving laws and your options for the best quality defense. We are also available 24/7 to consult you on your DUI matter.

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Prosecutors have reduced a DUI charge against country star Michael Ray, known for his hit singles such as “Kiss You in the Morning” and “Real Men Love Jesus,” to reckless driving after concluding Eustis police didn’t conduct field-sobriety tests properly.

Eustis police failed to give correct test instructions to Ray. Police also failed to inform him of their criminal investigation or provide corroborating body camera footage.

Ray, who turns 30 on April 29, is charged with one count of reckless driving and one count of felony marijuana possession after the singer admitted THC “hashish” oil found on him during his arrest belonged to him.

Eustis police responded to a call 4 a.m. Dec. 20 at the McDonald’s on Bay Street and discovered Ray driving an orange 2012 Jeep Wrangler that had bumped into a blue Scion in front of it in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-through.

Officers claims he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech,  and stumbled while walking and smelled of alcohol. But officers failed to tell Ray they were switching from an accident investigation to a criminal investigation, making all of Ray’s comments made at the scene inadmissible in court.

They also failed to give the proper instructions for field-sobriety tests, two of which Ray failed.

No police body cams recorded Ray performing the field tests because the footage cuts off the lower half of his body and does not provide a stable view.

Mistakes can certainly be made during any arrest, and that includes a DUI arrest. When defending a DUI charge, exposing police errors can have the most successful results, as this case shows.

A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion of misconduct in order to pull a car over. Once the driver is stopped, the officer must suspect that the individual is intoxicated before administering a field sobriety test, otherwise any test administered is considered unjustified. A further investigation of the police report could show flaws in how the tests were administered or allude to any discrepancies.

A DUI is a crime and beating the charge requires legal help.  Our Lake County DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to assist you with your DUI matter. We can help you take charge of the situation and establish a powerful defense strategy with the hopes of achieving the most successful outcome.

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