Articles Posted in Felony DUI

With the holidays here, a large amount of people will be traveling to see their families. While this is a time for celebrating and family fun, the increased number of drivers on the roads usually means a larger number of intoxicated drivers, leading to an increased risk of accidents and arrests for driving under the influence.

The following tips can keep you out of trouble and help you avoid being charged with a holiday DUI this year.

Do Not Drink and Drive

Sounds easy enough, right? The most obvious way to avoid a DUI over the holidays is to refrain from drinking and driving. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a designated driver. If you do not have anyone that can drive you, call a taxi , use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, or just stay put until you are completely sober. This will keep you and everyone else on the roads safe.

A person can be charged with a DUI if they get behind the wheel of a car with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. There are several ways to keep you BAC down, including:

  • Eating
  • Drinking water
  • Pacing yourself
  • Waiting before driving

It is important to point out that if you happen to cause an accident with any amount of alcohol in your system, you can still face severe penalties and a possible DUI arrest. Every person is different, and there is no absolute formula to help you stay sober. Generally speaking, it takes a small amount of alcohol for a person to become legally drunk.

Drive Safely

Always drive safely, but pay special attention to this during the holidays. Don’t blow through stop signs or make any risky maneuvers. Eliminate distractions like cell phones and loud music so that you can focus completely on the task at hand.

The above tips can help you avoid a holiday DUI, but understand that there is always the possibility of being pulled over at the wrong time. If you find yourself arrested for DUI over the holidays, our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

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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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A mother was arrested in Marion County after she was accused of driving under the influence while her 2-year-old daughter slept in a car seat in the back seat.

The 26-year-old faces charges of DUI and child neglect.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they received a phone call from someone about a possible drunk driver on Baseline Road Wednesday night.

According to reports, a deputy got behind the woman’s vehicle and observed it cross the center lane and weave in and out of traffic.

2719031_cfd70da743_mThe deputy pulled the woman over and claims she failed several sobriety tests. The report said she told a deputy she was on a medication. The woman was arrested.

The incident report shows that the woman passed the breathalyzer test, but later admitted to taking a type of medication. Sheriff’s deputies believe that she was impaired, possibly by a medication or narcotic.

The woman has a previous DUI charge and probation violations.

Facing any type of DUI charge is quite stressful. When a child is in the car during the arrest, however, penalties will enhance drastically. Florida has strict laws regarding DUI, and if a child is present in a DUI case, you could be facing a mandatory fine, jail time, driver’s license revocation and other harsh penalties.

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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 Lakeland man is accused of driving under the influence with a 4-year-old child in the car.

The 40-year-old man was arrested early Saturday morning after a traffic stop in New Port Richey.

According to the arrest report, the sheriff’s office received a call about a possible impaired driver.

The responding deputy stopped the man’s vehicle, a white 2012 Ford pick-up.

According to the report, the man had glassy, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. The reported also alleged his breath smelled of alcohol.

The report indicates the man admitted to drinking but changed his answer to how much several times.

The report goes on to state that he staggered and swayed and could not understand simple instructions. He apparently refused to take a field sobriety test. He also declined a breath alcohol test, according to the arrest report.

The report says the man had a 4-year-old child in the vehicle with him at the time of the stop.

There are several aggravating factors that can increase the penalties attached to a Florida DUI conviction. One of these penalty enhancements would apply when the DUI offense occurred with a minor child in the vehicle. This penalty enhancement can add significant jail time on top of whatever sentence is imposed for the underlying DUI offense.

If you have been arrested for DUI in New Port Richey and have an additional penalty enhancement allegation involving a child in the vehicle, it is important that you speak with a Pasco County DUI Attorney at Whittel & Melton immediately. As former prosecutors, our DUI Lawyers understand how best to defend parents or others charged with DUI.

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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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The holidays are well known by law enforcement officials as “DUI Season,” and the reason behind it is because people all over the U.S. tend to throw caution to the wind during this time of year and drink too much and get behind the wheel. Don’t give yourself the gift of a DUI this Christmas. The consequences of a DUI arrest are severe and the penalties of a conviction could ruin your holidays for many years to come.

The most obvious and reasonable solution to preventing a DUI is to refrain from drinking and driving. If you plan to drink, ask your friends or family if you can spend the night, or secure a sober ride home. Keeping yourself from getting behind the wheel after a few too many can not only keep yourself safe, but secure the safety of all other drivers and passengers on the roadways. Be smart and always plan ahead.

6469630651_3689c55464_m (1)The consequences of getting even one DUI conviction are serious, and almost always include jail time, license suspensions, points on your license, increased insurance rates and hefty fines. Fines can range anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for a first-time DUI conviction. Jail time can also vary from as a few days to six months for a first-time offender. A DUI is not something you want to mess around with. The best thing you can do for yourself whether you have had one drink or several, is to give up your keys. Do not chance it. The holidays see increased DUI patrol efforts on the roadways, including sobriety checkpoints and a blitz of patrols.

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