Articles Posted in DUI

A Clearwater official was arrested last weekend after being accused of being drunk while driving a golf cart.

According to police, the man, who is the city’s community redevelopment agency director, drove the golf cart into outdoor tables at the Clear Sky Restaurant on Cleveland Street.

Authorities said the 38-year-old then grabbed a person by the neck who was filming the incident. The man then allegedly left the scene.

He was stopped a short distance later and eventually taken to the Pinellas County Jail but not booked.

Instead, he was entered into an Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program early Sunday, which allows adults arrested for low-level crimes to avoid jail by completing community service, counseling or drug treatment.

That would allow him to complete community service instead of jail.

However, the man has been placed on administrative leave. He has worked for the city since 2016.

A golf cart is considered a vehicle under Florida law, so driving one while drunk could result in DUI charges. In Florida, we are lucky to enjoy mild weather throughout the year, which enables many Floridians to take advantage of golfing in the winter months.  A round of golf with friends can include a few alcoholic beverages along the way, which could lead to legal consequences.

While most golf courses are on private property, driving a golf cart while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in DUI charges. Because a golf cart is considered a vehicle under Florida law, this means that you can actually be arrested after a day on the golf course for operating the golf cart while under the influence. Even if you weren’t on the golf course, many Floridians tool around in golf carts as an alternate mode of transportation, and you can still be arrested for DUI on a golf cart if you were outside a golf course.

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Halloween is today, so our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton wanted to make sure we warn all residents to refrain from drinking and driving. A DUI arrest is no treat.

Police will be on the lookout for adults partying during the Halloween festivities. You may even notice an increase in police patrols and sobriety checkpoints in an effort to catch people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Increased patrols and DUI checkpoints can yield huge results for police like DUI arrests, traffic citations and impounding vehicles. Whether you are stopped while driving or at a DUI checkpoint, it is very important for you to be aware of your legal options and rights. A DUI conviction may result in a loss of driving privileges, jail and fines.

When you are facing a DUI arrest on Halloween or at any time, it is vital that you act immediately and contact a Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. During your free consultation with us, we will review all your legal options and make you aware of what needs to be done first. For instance, you have 10 days from the day of your arrest to contact the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. A hearing must be scheduled to retain your driving privileges until the matter is decided by the hearing officer, otherwise, your license will be suspended.

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Golfer Tiger Woods will plead guilty to reckless driving in South Florida for an incident back in May, and enter into a DUI diversion program.

Woods will enter the plea Friday for a May 29 arrest where officers found him unconscious in a parked car.

Woods has also agreed to enter into a diversion program for intoxicated drivers. He’ll spend a year on probation, pay a $250 fine and attend DUI school.

A toxicology report showed the 41-year-old Woods had the active ingredient for marijuana, two painkillers, a sleep drug and an anti-anxiety drug in his system when he was arrested. There was no alcohol, however.

Being ready for trial is always the best way to defend a DUI case, however, sometimes after pretrial negotiations, an alternative to a DUI plea can be reached. The most common plea that enables a DUI to be dropped is a reckless driving plea. There is a huge difference between a reckless driving charge and a DUI in Florida. DUI is an alcohol crime that stays on both your driving and your criminal records forever. Reckless driving is a non-alcohol specific traffic offense. If you are able to get your DUI charge dropped to a reckless driving charge, your record will show the DUI charges were dismissed and that you instead pled to the reckless driving traffic charge.

The biggest benefit to a reckless driving charge is that it carries no mandatory driver’s license suspension. Even a first time DUI charge can suspend your driver’s license for up to a year. This saves you the trouble of having to apply for a hardship license for some period of time and then paying the fees and taking the time to reinstate your driver’s license.

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A 32-year-old man was arrested on multiple charges early Friday after police said he crashed a U-Haul moving truck into a St. Pete Beach hotel.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the man drove the UHaul truck into the Hotel Zamora located at 3701 Gulf Boulevard just after midnight.  

Officials said the man then drove off from the area. He was arrested about two hours later.

When deputies arrived there was substantial structural damage to a hotel parking garage drop ceiling. Witnesses provided deputies with a description of the moving truck.

Shortly afterward, deputies stopped a 10 foot U-Haul truck with roof damage, driving north on Gulf Winds Drive at 64th Avenue in St. Pete Beach.

Officials said the man told them he attended a party at Hotel Zamora. After the party, the man was driving his passenger to her car in the parking garage when he struck the parking garage drop ceiling with the roof of the U-Haul truck.

The man apparently said he fled the scene and hid the truck in the area until deputies left the area. He said he was in the process of moving to Miami.

He is facing charges of leaving the scene of crash with property damage, one count of DUI, and one count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine).

Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can lead to life-changing penalties. These charges are further complicated when a crash occurs resulting in property damage. A Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can make sure you understand your legal options and what to expect from the criminal justice system. We can walk you through every stage of the process, working with you to aggressively pursue your desired outcome.

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A 32-year-old woman is accused of crashing her car into another vehicle and then fleeing the scene with two boys in the back seat while driving under the influence, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Just after 10:30 p.m. Friday, deputies responded to a hit-and-run crash near the intersection of Boynton Beach Boulevard and State Road 7. They apparently spoke to a driver who said his car was rear-ended and that the other driver headed south on State Road 7.

Eventually, a deputy found a red Nissan Altima stopped on the side of the road with front-end damage with the 32-year-old woman behind the wheel, according to the report. In the backseat were a 11-year-old and 7-year-old.

While speaking with the woman, the deputy allegedly noted a smell of alcohol on her breath and that her words were slurred and her eyes were glassy.

The woman apparently submitted to a Breathalyzer tests showing her blood-alcohol level was nearly double the legal intoxication limit of 0.08. Her first test was allegedly 0.150 and the second was 0.146, according to the report.

The woman faces charges including DUI, child neglect and hit and run. She was released Saturday from the Palm Beach County Jail on $6,000 bond.

Being charged with DUI in Florida can be the start of a never-ending nightmare. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. There are not many things that can make the situation worse in such an event, but one of them is if you had a child or children in the vehicle when you were pulled over.

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The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, along with Clearwater Police, Gulfport Police, Largo Police, St. Pete Police, and Tarpon Springs Police, conducted a DUI Wolf Pack Sunday night.

The DUI Wolf Pack was conducted throughout Pinellas County in an effort to reduce DUI related injuries, deaths, and property damage.

The results of the DUI Wolf Pack are:

Criminal Charges:

12 DUI

3 Possession of a Controlled Substance (Misdemeanor)

2 Possession of a Controlled Substance (Felony)

2 Driving While License Suspended and/or Revoked with Knowledge (Misdemeanor)

1 Resisting Arrest Without Violence

1 Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing

Total Charges – 21

Citations:

36 Speeding

1 No Valid DL

14 Driving While License Suspended and/or revoked with Knowledge

8 No Valid Insurance

1 Violation Driver’s License Restrictions

1 Open Container

33 Other Non-Moving Violations

27 Other Moving Violations

Total Citations – 121

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.

“Wolf Pack” is the name the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office has given these enhanced DUI operations. Their increased patrols were undoubtedly due to the Labor Day holiday. Any time there is  a long holiday weekend, it is safe to assume that police will be conducting DUI checkpoints in an effort to arrest any impaired drivers.

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New toxicology reports released show Tiger Woods had pain, anxiety and sleep medications in his system as well as THC when he was arrested on Memorial Day in Palm Beach County, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Woods told law enforcement at the time of his arrest that he was taking the painkiller Vicodin after a recent back surgery and also had a prescription for Xanax.

He was found asleep on the side of a road in his 2015 Mercedes-Benz with damage to the front and rear driver’s side tires.

Last week Woods entered a DUI first-offender program.

His arraignment is set for Oct. 25.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is an issue that is raising concerns throughout the country, including Florida. Detecting marijuana in the system is much different than the procedures for alcohol testing. You can read more about that here. Detecting marijuana involves blood or urine testing to discover if THC, the ingredient that purportedly contains psychoactive qualities, in the body.

Proving marijuana intoxication can be somewhat of a challenge for prosecutors as law enforcement is divided on how to efficiently detect a person who is impaired by marijuana. Where a field sobriety test may determine alcohol impairment, it could be inefficient in determining marijuana intoxication. A person who is impaired by alcohol may show signs through slurred speech, slower reaction time, or uncoordinated movements.Someone who is under the influence of marijuana may not have any tell-tale signs. For these reasons, the laws that apply to alcohol intoxication may not be appropriate for marijuana intoxication.

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A fiery crash on the Selmon Expressway killed a child and two adults, and led to the arrest of a 29-year-old Brandon woman for DUI.

The woman is accused of leaving the scene of the crash and she faces a litany of charges after she apparently lost control of her car near the Bay to Bay and Euclid exit and “touched off a chain reaction of crashes,” leading to the deaths of two adults and one child, according to police.

Witnesses allege they saw the woman driving at a “high rate of speed,” eastbound on the expressway. Reports indicate they said she tried to pass at least two vehicles going in the same direction, lost control of her vehicle and slammed into the back of a Hyundai occupied by the three victims. The Hyundai then spun out of control through the grass median and into the westbound lanes where it was struck by a Jeep and an Infinity SUV.  The vehicle came to a final rest in the westbound lanes and burst into flames, according to police.

The woman is accused of leaving the scene. Law enforcement caught up with her shortly after the crash when her car broke down near Willow Avenue and Platt Street.

According to reports, her speech was slurred, and police said she admitted to using anxiety medications Lexapro and Ativan before getting behind the wheel, and she allegedly failed a field sobriety test after demonstrating clues of impairment.

She was taken into custody and transported to Tampa General Hospital where her blood was taken for alcohol testing. According to police, once they administered the blood tests, the woman tried to remove her vials of blood and hide them in her underwear, which lead them to charging her with tampering with physical evidence.

The woman has been charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of a crash with death, leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury and tampering with physical evidence.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. When added to driving under the influence, charges and penalties will become escalated. While a simple DUI may only be a misdemeanor, the offense can become more serious when there are additional factors, like fleeing the scene of the accident.

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Despite the increasingly legal use of cannabis in many states, cops still don’t have the equivalent of a reliable alcohol breathalyzer or blood test — a chemically based way of estimating what the drug is doing in the brain. Though a blood test exists that can detect some of marijuana’s components, there is no widely accepted, standardized amount in the breath or blood that gives police or courts or anyone else a good sense of who is impaired.

A number of scientists nationally are working hard to create just such a chemical test and standard — something to replace the behavioral indicators that cops have to base their judgments on now.

Aside from being a bureaucratic mess, coming up with a standardized blood or breath test is also a really tricky chemistry problem because of the properties of the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

In states like Colorado, there is a THC blood test that law enforcement can use to show “presumed” impairment. If a person has more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-THC per milliliter of blood, a court or jury can infer that they are impaired, according to Colorado law (this is called “permissible inference” in legalese).

Turns out it can be a lot harder to chemically determine from a blood or breath test that someone is high than to determine from such a test that they’re drunk.

Ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic drinks that dulls thinking and reflexes is small and dissolves in water. Because humans are mostly water, it gets distributed fairly quickly and easily throughout the body and is usually cleared within a matter of hours. But THC, the main chemical in cannabis that produces some of the same symptoms, dissolves in fat. That means the length of time it lingers in the body can differ from person to person even more than alcohol — influenced by things like gender, amount of body fat, frequency of use, and the method and type of cannabis product consumed.

In one study, researchers had 30 frequent marijuana users stay at a research facility for a month without any access to drugs of any sort and repeatedly tested their blood for evidence of cannabis.

The participants’ bodies had built up stores of THC that were continuing to slowly leach out, even though they had abstained from using marijuana for a full month. In some of those who regularly smoked large amounts of pot, researchers could measure blood THC above the 5-nanogram level for several days after they had stopped smoking.

Conversely, another study showed that people who weren’t regular consumers could smoke a joint right in front of researchers and yet show no evidence of cannabis in their blood.

So, in addition to being invasive and cumbersome, the blood test can be misleading and a poor indicator of whatever is happening in the brain.

Recently, some scientists have turned their attention to breath, in hopes of creating something useful.

A number of companies, like Cannabix Technologies and Hound Labs, are in the process of developing breath detection devices. Tara Lovestead is providing the data that will help relate the concentration of THC detected in the breath to what’s in the blood. Even though blood provides an incomplete and indirect inkling of what’s happening in the brain, it’s the measure law enforcement turns to as a benchmark.

That, too, is a chemist’s nightmare. THC and other cannabinoids — the chemicals that cause a high — are really squirrelly. They degrade quickly and appear only in very tiny amounts in the breath.

With the legalization of pot in many states, it is clear where the future is heading. That means there will be more cases of driving under the influence of marijuana. This means DUI lawyers will now have to familiarize themselves with how marijuana metabolizes in the body in addition to alcohol.

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A Lakeland man was arrested Saturday night on DUI charges after a hit and run and driving the wrong-way.

Troopers believe the 36-year-old was driving recklessly westbound on I-4 around 10 p.m. Saturday.

When troopers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the Dodge Journey, they said the man drove through the median and cable barrier into the eastbound lanes of I-4, still traveling westbound.

Troopers claim the man then stopped his vehicle westbound on the inside shoulder of eastbound I-4, and when they approached him, they said he drove off to the outside shoulder and stopped.

Troopers then arrested and charged the man with DUI, DUI property damage, leaving the scene of a crash, and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway.

He was transported to the Polk County jail.

Leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) is a crime. When coupled with DUI, charges and penalties can be more severe. While a Florida DUI may only be a misdemeanor on its own, the offense can be enhanced when there are aggravating factors, such as leaving the scene of the accident. Anytime a driver is involved in an accident, they are required to stop.

Just because you have been charged with DUI does not mean you are guilty. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know the many faults and flaws that can occur during a traffic stop or during a DUI investigation. Law enforcement officers do not always use the proper procedures when stopping vehicles.

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