Articles Posted in Gainesville, Florida

Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell pleaded not guilty today to his second DUI charge.

Bell was arrested in Glendale on Dec. 21, 2015, according to reports from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors allege that Bell was seen driving erratically on San Fernando Road.

The actor also allegedly refused to take a sobriety test.

At his arraignment today, Bell pleaded not guilty. He is due for a pretrial hearing on August 5.

In 2010, Bell was convicted of driving under the influence in San Diego.

Because this is his second charge within a 10 year period, Bell could potentially face 365 days in county jail if convicted. Bell, who submitted proof of attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous classes, is currently out of jail.

With a second DUI charge in the state of Florida, the stakes go up significantly. If this is your second offense, you probably know what to expect in court. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how scary these charges can be and we understand your fears regarding your future. Florida judges do not go lightly on DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders.

Continue reading

Cinco de Mayo is viewed as an American drinking holiday, just like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Halloween. On the fifth of May, there is usually a rise in DUI arrests due to local law enforcement officers cracking down on drunk drivers using DUI checkpoints. If you have found yourself facing DUI charges, it is best to speak with a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible so that you can better understand your legal rights.

We understand how to help you build the strongest possible case for DUI charges. We will start by collecting and analyzing the facts surrounding your case, including why the police stopped you in the first place and how they tested your blood alcohol content level.

Did you know that Breathalyzers can malfunction? Police can even make errors when it comes to the proper methods for administering these tests. A further investigation into the testing procedures could show that the equipment used may not have been maintained or calibrated properly. Let us help you mount the strongest possible defense for the specific DUI charges you are facing.

When it comes to DUI cases, it is important to act fast as there are deadlines for filing paperwork, and if these documents are not filled out correctly, this could weaken your chances of achieving the best possible outcome. Even if you are facing a first- time DUI arrest, you could still be looking at possible jail time. Prosecutors fight quite aggressively to enforce the maximum punishments on DUI offenders. As former prosecutors, we know what techniques the State will attempt to bring against you and can counter their attacks accordingly.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A cast member on CMT’s upcoming reality series “Gainesville” was arrested early Thursday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The 26-year-old was arrested shortly after midnight after she allegedly pulled her white Audi Cabriolet out in front of another vehicle that was too close to stop, causing an accident, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report.

According to the report, the woman was attempting to get onto Southwest 40th Boulevard from the Arby’s parking lot on Archer Road.

The other driver, a paramedic returning home from a late shift, was driving a Nissan Juke and had minor injuries.

The crash caused about $8,000 in damage.

The arresting officer claims he detected the smell of alcohol on the woman’s breath and that her speech was slurred.

The arrest report states that the woman denied she’d been drinking and refused a field sobriety test.

She was booked into the Alachua County Jail, but released soon after.

The woman arrested is one of seven locals featured in a new reality series set to air on CMT on Aug. 20.

4457748556_ecfb91dc4e_m“Gainesville” has been described by its creators as a coming-of-age series that depicts a group of 20-somethings dealing with the trials of young adulthood, including paying for tuition and navigating friendships and romance.

A petition was started last week in protest of the show, which some locals have said will cast Gainesville in a negative light. As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had more than 1,300 signatures.

CMT declined to comment on the woman’s arrest.

An alcohol related driving offense requires immediate action in order to fully protect all of your rights. In most cases, you only have 10 days to begin defending your rights. If you have been arrested or charged with an alcohol or drug related driving offense in Gainesville or the surrounding areas, then you need an experienced Alachua County DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can immediately begin helping you. The sooner you contact us the better off you will be.

Continue reading

Every Cinco de Mayo, thousands of people across the United States are arrested for drunk driving.

In Florida, law enforcement officers will be out in full force with extra patrols and DUI checkpoints to crack down on drunk driving during Cinco de Mayo. Cops will be out on the roads searching for intoxicated drivers. If you want to avoid a DUI this Cinco de Mayo, refrain from getting behind the wheel after drinking a few too many margaritas.

The following tips can be helpful if you are stopped on Cinco de Mayo:

  • Roadblocks can be set up around your favorite bars and restaurants. Typically, roadblocks will be setup in spots 4583346381_64229794bc_zwhere cops know DUI or other traffic violations are likely to occur, so be careful when driving. If you do come up to a checkpoint, be observant. Take note of whether all cars are being stopped. Also look at if the roadblock is clearly identifiable as a roadblock. These things could help with your defense should you be arrested for a DUI.
  • Field Sobriety Tests are voluntary, meaning that you do have the right to refuse. Tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and one leg stand are voluntary in the state of Florida. Police might not tell you that you have the right to refuse these tests, but just know that it is an option to politely decline.
  • If you get arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will demand a blood or breath test from you. Again, you have the right to refuse these tests. A breath or blood test is usually the State’s strongest evidence against you if you do test over the legal limit of .08.

Continue reading

The results of a new study indicate that artificial sweeteners, like those found in diet sodas, actually increase blood alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers.

The study was conducted by doctors at Northern Kentucky University. The results were published in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Eight men and eight women, between the ages of 21 and 33 years old, and are social drinkers participated in the study. People who are infrequent drinkers were excluded from the study. Also excluded were people with diabetes, psychiatric disorders, head trauma or any other injuries to the central nervous system, as well as anyone who has substance abuse problems.

Participants came to three different sessions and were given random drinks and then had their blood alcohol content 9286986393_4c386b4324_zmeasured. The drinks consumed were either vodka and Squirt soda, vodka and Diet Squirt soda or vodka and a placebo drink. The drinks contained 1.97 ml/kg vodka mixed with 3.94 ml/kg of the soda or placebo. The vodka used in the drinks was 40 proof.

It was found that participants who consumed the drinks with the diet soda had significantly higher blood alcohol contents than those that consumed the drinks made with regular soda. The actual levels measured averaged 18 percent higher. Those same people also showed signs of greater impairment and slower reaction times.

The study concluded that diet soda mixed with alcohol results in higher blood alcohol contents than regular soda mixed with alcohol.

The results of the study confirm other related findings from previous studies done about how diet sodas can affect blood alcohol levels. In 2011, a group of researchers surveyed people who were leaving bars and asked participants to share what and how much they had drank, and allow researchers to take breath samples. This study also found that those who had consumed alcoholic beverages made with diet soda had higher blood alcohol readings.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Contact Information