Articles Posted in DUI Serious Body Injury

St. Patrick’s Day is here! This holiday celebrates Irish heritage with food, green attire, music, dancing and, often, the consumption of alcohol. According to reports from the National Highway Safety Administration, St. Patrick’s Day sees one of the biggest increases in drunk driving arrests and accidents compared to the rest of the year. In fact, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, more than 28 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. Moreover, from 2010 to 2014, nearly three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had blood alcohol contents (BACs) above the 0.08 limit. Of those crashes, 266 resulted in death.

If you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, you can face very harsh consequences. For a first offense, you could potentially serve time behind bars along with heavy fines, probation, suspension of your license and even the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. DUIs that involve bodily injury or death are even more serious and carry even more severe consequences.

The increased number of drunk drivers on the road on St. Patrick’s Day not only leads to an increased risk of becoming involved in an accident, but also an increased chance of being arrested. Law enforcement is well aware that holidays lead to more DUIs. Because of this, they increase patrols and set up DUI checkpoints in hopes of catching anyone drunk behind the wheel. They are ready to make arrests, so be aware of this as you are out celebrating.

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If you have had one too many drinks and can’t drive home New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, AAA will give you and your car a ride home.

Through its “Tow to Go” program, which is geared towards limiting the number of drunken drivers on the road by providing free lifts on a tow truck, the company is offering free rides throughout Florida through New Year’s Day.

“Tow to Go is basically a safety net or a last resort for people who don’t have a plan in place when they are away from their home and celebrating,” said Tow to Go program spokesman Matt Nasworthy.

Those who may need a lift do not have to be AAA members, but the service is offered on the availability of AAA drivers and tow trucks.

If you need a ride, the service is confidential and a tow truck driver will take you to a safe location within a 10-mile radius of your location.

The rides are intended to be a last resort for people who do not have a safe way to get home. AAA recommends planning ahead and selecting a designated driver or using a cab before calling for a tow.

The program is funded by Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, who have co-sponsored the program since its inception.

To request a free tow and ride from AAA, call 855-286-9246.

The program has been offered since 1998 in Florida, and has provided more than 24,000 rides to impaired drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Florida had the third highest number of DUI-related fatalities in the nation in 2012. If you are found to be under the influence of alcohol and are in an accident, in addition to harsh criminal penalties, you could be held liable for all of the costs resulting from the collision. If a fatality does occur, you could be found at-fault in a potential wrongful death lawsuit along with the criminal consequences.

The average cost of a first time DUI can range up to $10,000, including fines, legal defense, and auto insurance increases. If you are going to be out celebrating this New Year’s Eve, be smart and refrain from drinking and driving.

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A central Florida woman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for a fatal drunk driving collision.

The Volusia County judge sentenced the 44-year-old woman on Tuesday. Jurors found her guilty of the fatal DUI crash in October.

Authorities believe the woman was speeding in November 2012 when she rear-ended a 22-year-old woman, who was stopped at a red light.

The woman’s blood alcohol level after the crash registered at 0.152 percent, according to police. Florida law considers a driver impaired at 0.08 percent.

Car accidents can cause serious injuries in many ways, especially in rear-end collisions. However, when alcohol or drug use is involved, what could have been a simple car accident may become a serious felony criminal charge. In the state of Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, and who causes injuries in an accident may face charges of DUI Manslaughter.

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Around 40 million drivers will be travelling on the roadways over the long Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with family and friends. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the most travelled holiday period of the year. It is estimated that 418 people will lose their lives in motor vehicle collisions in the United States this Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Safety Council.

For college students, Thanksgiving Eve is sometimes referred to as “Black Wednesday,” and it is unofficially known as the busiest bar night of the year, which means it is also the biggest drunk driving night of the year.

As many people celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, their celebration also includes the use of not just alcohol, but also drugs. Alcohol or drugs, or a combination of them, will put drivers at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accidents that could kill or injure themselves as well as others.

It is important to mention that Florida has a Zero Tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Any driver who is under 21 who is stopped by law enforcement officers and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically have his or her Florida driver’s license suspended for six months. There are many other devastating consequences that accompany a DUI conviction, including academic penalties as well as criminal consequences.

Avoid a DUI this Thanksgiving

There are a few tips that can be followed to prevent DUI injuries and deaths, including:

  • Plan a safe way to get home before heading out to your party
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver
  • If you are intoxicated, please do not get behind the wheel of a car. Call a taxi, use public transportation, call a sober friend or family member, or even use a ride share app such as Uber or Lyft so that you are sure to get home safely.
  • Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is underway. From August 19 through September 7, 2015, the national drunk driving enforcement crackdown will run to increase awareness through public safety campaigns. Law enforcement agencies across the nation will be out in full force to catch drunk driving offenders.

This year, the NHTSA will be taking a multi-pronged approach to educational awareness. They will be using paid, earned and social media advertising outlets, as well as working with a variety of local resources across the country.

Drunk Driving: A Look At the Numbers

  • Around one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers.
  • In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in the U.S.
  • On Labor Day weekend in 2013, there were 424 crash fatalities nationwide.
  • Nearly half of the 424 fatal crashes  in 2013 involved drunk drivers.
  • In 2013, an estimated 1 in 5 child passenger deaths happened in drunk-driving crashes.
  • Drunk driving crashes cost an estimated $49.8 billion annually.

Increased Enforcement of Drunk Driving Laws

In the upcoming weeks, local and state law enforcement agencies will be stepping up their drunk driving enforcement efforts. Expect to see an increased number of patrols out as well as more DUI checkpoints. Labor Day weekend is notorious for drunk driving offenders, so you can expect to see additional police units out and about looking for drunk drivers.

Do not risk a DUI or the lives of others. Always get a safe ride home.

Stay Safe Over Labor Day Weekend & Avoid a DUI Arrest

Labor Day Weekend can be especially dangerous for drivers in Florida and across the country. The NHTSA urges motorists to remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving. Even just one drink can be one drink too many. If you intend to celebrate with alcohol, always make a plan to get home safely. When in doubt, call a friend or a cab.

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The Fourth of July is just days away and people all over Tampa Bay will be planning to attend various celebrations, or perhaps planning one of their own. As is the case with other holidays, Fourth of July festivities often involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages. State and local law enforcement are aware of this fact, and you can definitely expect to see increased DUI patrols during this holiday weekend.

4428561177_831c2f9269_zThere are several things that you can do to reduce your risk of being arrested for DUI. Obviously, the most straightforward course of action is to refrain from drinking alcohol. However, there are perfectly responsible ways for Tampa area residents to enjoy alcohol this Independence Day. If you do choose to drink, here are a few ways to avoid a DUI arrest:

  • Plan ahead. Before heading out, make sure you have a plan on how you will be getting home safely.
  • Select a Sober Driver. If you are going out with a group of people, choose someone you can trust to act as the designated driver.
  • Use Public Transportation or a Rideshare Service. Tampa has a variety of public transportation options. You can always use a rideshare app such as Uber and Lyft as well. By leaving the driving to someone else, you will eliminate any risk of being accused of drunk driving.

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A driver of a van that went into the water at Snell Isle Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon suffered minor injuries but was charged with DUI, according to St. Petersburg police.

The incident occurred at Snell Isle Boulevard NE and Coffee Pot Boulevard NE just before 4 p.m. Police claim the 59-year-old man suffered minor injuries, but refused any medical treatment.

Police believe that driver impairment appeared to be the only factor that led to the van exiting the roadway and landing in the water. The man was apparently tested twice and had blood-alcohol levels of .264 and .273, which is more than three times the level at which a motorist is considered too impaired to drive in Florida.

It is important for all Florida drivers to be aware of and understand the penalties they could face for a DUI arrest. Florida DUI laws and punishments are some of the toughest in the nation. The penalties for a drunk driving, which also includes driving under the influence of drugs, increase with the number of previous convictions, as well as the length of time between prior DUIs.

There are numerous factors that can affect the degree of punishment for Florida DUI convictions, including blood or breath alcohol level at the time of arrest, if the DUI involved a collision with injuries or fatalities, prior DUI convictions, the presence of a minor in the vehicle, open containers and even what information is relayed to the arresting law enforcement officer.

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St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most dangerous holidays to be on the road. As with most holidays, there is increased law enforcement presence, and there are drunk drivers everywhere. Celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day are notorious for the green beer and other alcoholic beverages. No matter how you choose to celebrate, keep in mind that law enforcement agencies across Florida will be stepping up their efforts to keep the roadways safe.

4441404620_3f16a0f0c0_z (1)Saint Patrick’s Day Drunk Driving Facts

  • From 2009 to 2013, over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, 276 people were killed in drunk driving crashes across the nation.
  • In 2013 on St. Patrick’s Day, 31 people were killed in drunk driving crashes.
  • In 2013, two out of five auto accident fatalities over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend involved drunk drivers.
  • On March 18, 2013, between midnight at 5:59 a.m., 55 percent of crash fatalities involved drunk drivers.

If you plan on celebrating today with green beer or any other form of alcohol, please do not get behind the wheel. If you are going to be drinking any alcohol, make sure you have a plan. Designating a driver ahead of time is a great way to make sure you have a safe ride home. However, sometimes plans fall through, so make sure you have a backup plan, too.  Save a local cab company’s number in your phone or download a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft. Law enforcement officers will be out patrolling the roadways, so don’t risk your life,  the lives of others, or a potential DUI arrest.

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In the past, the Tampa Police Department has arrested between 200 and 400 people each Gasparilla weekend on DUI and other alcohol-related charges. Nowadays, many people are issued civil citations for violating open container laws which includes a fine of $75 – $450. In 2012, TPD issued 302 open containers violation civil citations, and 8 others were arrested for DUI and 27 were cited for underage drinking.

While you should be able to enjoy the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion without waking up with a criminal record, understand that you must take certain precautions in order to protect yourself from suffering this fate. Keep in mind that the TPD will be using mobile surveillance camera units in order to identify troublemakers. The Tampa Police will also use Bobcat Golf Carts, bicycles, Segways and horses to stop fights, drunk drivers and find lost children.

4319865951_914dfdb236_zThe following guidelines are helpful to review before you head out this weekend. These laws will be strictly enforced by the TPD:

  • You Must be 21 or older to consume alcohol
  • Open containers are only permitted in designated areas
  • Alcohol cannot be consumed from kegs or large vessels
  • Alcohol Must be Purchased from vendors
  • Plastic Bottles and Cans are permitted, but no glass or Styrofoam cups or containers are allowed
  • Public Urination will not be tolerated
  • No Fighting
  • No Property damage
  • No Trespassing – the parade does travel through residential neighborhoods, so be respectful of other people’s private property.
  • No nudity
  • No Public intoxication
  • No Driving Under the Influence
  • No Weapons
  • No Illegal Drugs
  • No Coolers

The Florida DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to be safe this weekend. We recommend the following:

  • Plan where you will park before heading out. There will be plenty of parking at Raymond James Stadium with a shuttle to the parade. Also, there will be parking in the Ybor City Garage and from there, you can take the streetcar trolley. Other options are to park in downtown Tampa and Channelside garages or parking lots.
  • Assign a Designated Driver before consuming alcohol, or plan on taking a taxi home.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat before you start drinking.

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With Christmas behind us and the New Year’s holiday looming ahead, many Florida drivers are distracted by all the holiday parties and family gatherings and are not as persevering about designating a sober driver or staying sober for the ride home.

Florida law enforcement officials are not distracted during this holiday season. In fact, they are patrolling for drunk drivers throughout the month of December and New Year’s Eve and setting up DUI checkpoints.

15777342095_163bc0b4a3_mWhat should I do If I have been drinking and I am pulled over by the police?

  • The most important thing to remember is to be polite with the police officer that pulls you over. Being confrontational or acting rude will only put you in jail quicker.
  • Know your rights. You do have the right to refuse all field sobriety tests. These tests only help the arresting officer build a stronger case against you. Understand that police intend to use the results of any test against you in court.
  • You also have the right to refuse a breathalyzer, blood or urine test. Remember though, if you do refuse these test, you face a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
  • Law enforcement is recording you. Be sure to watch how you act and what you say.
  • An officer will likely ask you various questions about what you were doing in the hours leading up to your vehicle being stopped. You do not have to answer an officer’s questions about whether you had anything to drink that night, where you were coming from, or any other questions. The most appropriate response to these questions is to politely request to speak to your attorney before answering questions.

If pulled over for DUI, what type of field sobriety tests will the police administer?

There are various field sobriety tests conducted by police, including the following:

  • The Eye Test also known as the HGN Test
  • The One Leg Stand
  • Alphabet Recitation
  • Walk & Turn
  • Nose Touch

Questions you can expect to be asked by police:

  • Where are you coming from?
  • Have you been drinking?
  • Who have you been with?
  • Where are you going?

It is important to be respectful to the arresting officer, but you do NOT have to discuss any personal information. You do not have to tell the officer where you are coming from, where you are going or who you have been with.

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