Articles Posted in Florida

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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A 36-year-old Volusia County sheriff’s deputy was charged with DUI Saturday night after an off-duty crash in his personal vehicle in Daytona Beach.The man faces several charges, according to Sheriff’s Office, including DUI, two counts of DUI with property damage and three counts of DUI with injuries.

The crash was reported just after 7 p.m. at Williamson Boulevard and Dunn Avenue.

Three vehicles were involved, and three people were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash.

The sheriff’s deputy was not among those injured.

The Daytona Beach Police Department investigated the crash.

The sheriff’s deputy was placed on administrative leave with pay effective immediately.

A DUI arrest must be taken seriously, especially when injuries have occurred from a crash. Florida is one of the most aggressive states in the nation in promoting laws aimed at combating the devastating impact of drunk driving. Prosecutors seek harsh penalties for DUI offenders. If you or someone you know is arrested for DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, you need a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer on your side to help mitigate the consequences of your arrest.

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New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the start of a new year! While we want you to start your New Year off with a bang, we don’t want 2018 to start behind bars.

Alcohol-consumption at celebrations is a major contributing factor in increased drinking and driving and vehicle collisions during the holidays. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have compiled a list of simple ways to avoid a DUI arrest this NYE.

  1. Don’t drink and drive! Buzzed driving is still considered drunk driving and you don’t have to be at Florida’s legal Blood Alcohol Content limit of .08 to get arrested. Slight impairment can be reached with just one or two drinks, especially when you factor in your size and weight and how much alcohol you’re consuming in each drink. If you’re  under the influence of alcohol and get behind the wheel, you could be charged with a DUI. Police officers prove impairment through observations like the odor of alcohol, bloodshot or watery eyes, slurred speech, swaying or field sobriety tests. This means that a prosecutor does not need breath or blood results to bring DUI charges against you.
  2. Designate a sober driver. Choose a reliable person who either doesn’t drink or is responsible enough not to take even one sip of alcohol to be a designated driver. If you don’t have one, call a cab, use Lyft or Uber or any other means of safe transportation to get home in one piece.
  3. Stay the night at your friend’s party. Before you start drinking, ask if it’s okay to stay the night. Most hosts would rather have a house full of overnight party guests than have a bunch of drunk people on the road. We think waking up on your friend’s couch is much better than waking up in the drunk tank with DUI charges pending. Another Option is to book a room at a nearby hotel.

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If you are like millions of other Americans, you will likely be traveling somewhere over the Thanksgiving holiday. According to the annual AAA Travel Forecast, nearly 51 million people across the country will be traveling 50 miles or further. More congestion on the roadways is pretty much inevitable.

The holiday season is notorious for higher incidents of drunk driving. In fact, an average of 728 people will be injured or killed in a drunk driving accident daily from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day  according to the Center for Disease Control.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known as “Blackout Wednesday.” Thanksgiving Eve is quite popular for binge drinking due to the fact that most people do not have to work on Thursday. On that some note, college students will be heading home for a break with friends.

Everyone can benefit from following these safety tips, regardless of how far you will be traveling over the holidays:

  • Visibility is reduced at night, so try to travel during daylight hours.
  • Stay on top of traffic updates and anticipate heavy traffic areas. Be prepared for delays and use a GPS to find alternative routes if necessary.
  • Make frequent stops and rotate drivers to avoid fatigue.
  • Never drive if you are intoxicated. Designate a driver or make alternative plans.

Tampa Bay law enforcement will be out in full swing over the Thanksgiving holiday. Patrols will be increased and sobriety checkpoints will be set up in certain areas.

The simple solution to avoiding a DUI is to avoid driving when intoxicated. However, you can be stopped for other reasons. Even if you are under the legal limit, having had a drink could mean that you are subject to closer scrutiny. Additionally, driving under the influence of drugs or prescription medications can impair your driving. Be mindful of more than just alcohol this holiday season.

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18-year-old actor Ethan Cutkosky, who plays Carl Gallagher on the Showtime series “Shameless,” was arrested and booked for DUI Thursday in Los Angeles.

According to reports, Cutkosky was driving his orange BMW at around 10:30 PM and began to straddle the traffic lanes, which prompted cops to pull him over.

He allegedly performed poorly on field sobriety tests and was arrested on the spot.

It’s unclear if the DUI was drug or alcohol related.

The state of Florida takes a pretty hard stance on DUI arrests involving a person under the age of 21. In fact, the state has a “zero tolerance policy,” meaning a young person charged with DUI can face severe sanctions including jail time or incarceration, probation, fines, court costs, community service hours, and a driver’s license suspension.

For those under the age of 21 charged with DUI, Florida has enacted a zero tolerance legal limit of .02. This legal limit means that even one drink can put a driver over the legal limit.

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