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Articles Posted in Gainesville, Florida

President Obama designated the month of December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in 2010 in an attempt to shed light on the serious problem of drunk and drugged driving in the U.S. With the holiday season and the end of the year approaching, holiday parties and celebrations will go hand in hand, making it a great time to highlight the dangers of impaired driving and the consequences that come along with an arrest.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, someone is killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving-related crash every year and someone is injured every 90 seconds. An interesting fact to note about drunk driving problems is that one-third of arrests, injuries and fatalities come from repeat offenders. This translates to mean that each time a driver is behind the wheel, he or she is possibly sharing the road with 2 million people who have three or more drunk driving offenses.

11064883376_6771bd6c4a_zPreventing a serious drunk driving accident or a DUI arrest all begins with you, so if you know that you will be attending a party or event where you will consume alcohol, make sure to designate a driver before you head out, or even program the numbers of local cab companies in your phone to ensure you have a safe ride home.

If you are going to host a party, make sure to include non-alcoholic beverage options for guests. Another good tip? Try not to serve alcohol the last hour of the gathering. Also, be ready to help your guests stay off the road if they have been drinking by allowing them to stay at your home, or by having sober rides home lines up.

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Believe it or not, there are scarier things on Halloween than ghosts, werewolves and twisted clowns. Seeing police lights in your rear view mirror and knowing there is a possibility that you could be arrested and hauled off to jail to face criminal DUI charges is horrifying. Perhaps even for frightening, is the reality that your mug shot could be chosen to be featured as entertainment by your local news outlet.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, in 2011, a whopping 44 percent of crashes Halloween night involved a driver whose blood-alcohol level was 0.08 percent or higher. Between 2007 and 2011, 175 people were killed in DUI crashes across the United States on Halloween night.

11064883376_6771bd6c4a_zIt is important to be smart and safe this Halloween weekend. Police often sit outside bars and various events where they know alcohol is being served just waiting to make an arrest as soon as they see someone get inside a vehicle and drive off. While sometimes effective, in certain cases drivers can escape DUI charges. If your criminal defense lawyer can prove that the officer failed to exercise reasonable cause when pulling you over, prosecutors may be forced to drop the charges entirely.

Another popular police tactic for holidays is DUI checkpoints. Officers will sometimes use these checkpoints to press for permission to search vehicles for evidence of drugs, weapons or other items that may result in additional criminal charges. If you are stopped this Halloween, you can refuse to have your car searched. Police may choose to search your car regardless, but the fact that you refused could be grounds to suppress whatever evidence was found.

Should you find yourself under arrest for DUI , you need to be prepared. Understand that you are not obligated to tell the arresting officer where you are going or where you came from. With that said, it is never a good idea to lie, but do not offer up any additional information as to how much you have had to drink or if you have taken any drugs that night. Try your best to keep your cool and keep your statements to a minimum.

If police do arrest you, make sure to explain that you do not want to answer any questions without the presence of your attorney.

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National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 19-25. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for 14 to 18 year olds across the country, which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has deemed this is as one of the most important roadway safety topics facing teen drivers and all other motorists across the United States.

According to various survey results, a mere 25 percent of parents have serious talks with their teens about safe driving practices, despite the fact that nearly half of all teen drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents die.

Talk to Your Teen

9734369452_c56e20a600_zTalking to the teen drivers in your family is very important and the most effective way to help improve their safety as well as the safety of others on the road. The NHTSA has compiled a list of great resources, including the “5 to Drive” rules, which are five crucial topics to talk to your teen about before they start driving.

Five to Drive

  • No alcohol
  • No cell phones
  • No extra passengers
  • No speeding
  • Always Buckle up

While the Five to Drive list may seem like obvious rules to follow, the number one cause of teenage deaths is car accidents, and the above five topics are often contributing factors.

Underage Drinking & Driving – Zero Tolerance in Florida

Florida law takes a hard stance on underage drinking and driving. First and foremost, the “zero tolerance” statute states that drivers under the age of 21 can have their license suspended for having any alcohol in their system when pulled over by law enforcement. Second, the license suspension penalties are much harsher for underage drivers charged with a DUI.

The NHTSA offers many helpful tips for talking with teens, which includes setting ground rules and writing a contract so that teen drivers know that they are accountable for all actions when behind the wheel. Even just a simple conversation with teen drivers can have a positive impact on roadway safety for Florida motorists.

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Amanda Bynes was arrested on a DUI charge early Sunday morning in Sherman Oaks, California.

CHP officers said they observed the 28-year-old actress driving her white Mercedes Benz SUV west on Riverside Drive, where she stopped for a red light in the middle of an intersection.

Bynes pulled over immediately for the highway patrol and allegedly failed to pass a series of field sobriety tests.

Officers then transported her to the West Valley CHP office for evaluation by a drug recognition expert.

6905273526_d6f6d3b525_mBynes was eventually arrested for driving under the influence of a drug and booked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Jail shortly after 7 a.m.

The CHP arrest report notes that Bynes had a “disheveled appearance.” The report also shows that she was cooperative throughout the entire arrest process.

The former child star of Nickelodeon’s “All That” and “The Amanda Show” was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold last year.

In 2012, she was charged with a DUI after an April incident in which her BMW allegedly sideswiped a police cruiser in West Hollywood. In February 2014 that DUI charge was dismissed in a plea deal where Bynes ended up with three years probation, a requirement to attend an alcohol education course and pay a fine after she entered a no-contest plea to reckless driving.

Bynes’ recent arrest would typically be charged as a misdemeanor offense, however there are some complications due to the fact that she was sentenced to three years of probation in February because of her 2012 DUI arrest.

While this DUI arrest was made in California, in the state of Florida, a second DUI within 5 years of a previous DUI conviction is punishable by up to 270 days in county jail, a fine of no more than $2,000, probation of up to one year, five years of a driver’s license suspension and one year of ignition interlock.

Furthermore, in Florida, a new arrest while on probation could lead to additional charges, like a violation of probation. This means that you could not only be facing criminal liability for the new charge, but your probation could be revoked, and the original sentence for the prior crime could be reinstated.

Despite the circumstances, if you are arrested for DUI in Florida, a DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help. We will review your case and figure out what steps need to be taken in order to give you the best possible defense strategy. Time is of the essence in these cases – by acting quickly, negotiations can sometimes be made with the state attorney to have the terms of probation reinstated. However, every DUI case is unique.

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Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. For many people, that means an extra day off work, backyard and beach barbecues, visiting with friends and family and the unofficial end of summer. However, with the good comes the bad and unfortunately, Labor Day means a sharp increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities.

Beginning August 15 and continuing through September 1, local law enforcement and the Florida HIghway Patrol will be aggressively targeting drunk and drugged drivers as part of a nationwide effort to put an end to impaired driving and save lives.

13002617474_07a9010503_mPolice will be patrolling streets and highways looking for impaired drivers throughout the the state. Residents should expect to see an increase in police as well as DUI checkpoints.

The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Most Americans love to celebrate this day by hanging out with friends and family which usually means cookouts, pool parties, festivals, parades and fireworks.

In gearing up for the Fourth, it is important to remember the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This campaign is designed to inform drivers that if they get behind the wheel of a car at or over the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content, they will be arrested and charged with DUI.

Florida drivers can expect to see lots of police cars out patrolling this holiday weekend. That means more roadside checkpoints and more drivers getting pulled over for speeding and other infractions. The period just before the Fourth and immediately after, from July 3 to July 6, usually means Florida law enforcement will be out in full force patrolling cities looking to stop those suspected of DUI.

The Fourth of July holiday is a dangerous time to be on the road, and not just in the state of Florida. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012, 179 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents between 6 p.m. on July 3rd and 5:59 a.m. on July 5th. Of these accidents, 44 percent were found to be alcohol-related and 28 percent involved a driver that had a blood alcohol content of .15, which is almost twice the legal limit in all 50 states.

IFThis holiday weekend, the Florida DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to play it smart. Exercise caution and safety and do not drink and drive. While a DUI charge is serious, what is even more serious is that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol places everyone on the roadway at risk for injury or death.

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A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that a significant number of college-age adults are placing themselves at serious risk by driving under the influence of marijuana.

Specifically, the study reached the following conclusions:

  • Forty-four percent of college-age men admit to driving under the influence of marijuana in the last month. A much smaller percentage of college-age men – just 12 percent – admit to driving drunk in the same time frame.

From cookouts and family get-togethers to concerts and parades, Memorial Day weekend is a time for remembrance and celebration. Like any holiday, law enforcement will be out in full force this weekend looking for intoxicated drivers, so partygoers should exercise extra caution to avoid criminal charges.

memorial dayGiven the extent of potential consequences, it is in everyone’s best interest to try and avoid a DUI charge during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. The following tips can help you prevent an unnecessary DUI charge:

  1. Use Alternate Transportation. Alternate modes of transportation, such as taxis, buses or even car services like Lyft and Uber can prevent you from driving under the influence and help you have an enjoyable holiday weekend.
  2. Try to Stay Within Walking Distance of Your Destination. Travel risks are increased during holiday seasons whether you have been drinking or not. When venturing away from the home, try and stay within walking distance so that you are not tempted to get behind the wheel after consuming a few alcoholic beverages.
  3. Never Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Many people fail to realize that DUI laws do not just apply to those who have been drinking alcohol. Any substance that can lead to intoxication, including marijuana and prescription pills, can result in a DUI charge if you decide to drive.

The above safety tips can help you and those closest to you stay safe this holiday weekend. However, if you are stopped for a DUI it is important to know how to react. It can be frightening to be stopped by law enforcement, but being prepared can help you get through this experience unscathed. Understand that during busy holidays, like Memorial Day, police usually set up checkpoints throughout the state and will be stopping drivers. If you get stopped this weekend, remember the following tips:

Stay Calm. Anytime you are pulled over you should remain calm. While you may be anxious or scared, staying cool and collected is the best way to handle the situation.

Know Your Rights. Reviewing and understanding your rights is crucial in order to protect yourself. If you know nothing else, remember that you have the right to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.

Contact a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer. A Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can assist with your defense following an arrest for DUI. We can also make sure your rights remain protected throughout the entire legal process.

Retaining an attorney is just the first step towards resolving your DUI case. At Whittel & Melton, we can review all the evidence against you and scrutinize every detail of your case in order to map out the best course of action. Every DUI charge involves different factors with time-sensitive requirements that must be met, so do not delay.

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The University of Central Florida has become the No. 1 area in Orange County for DUI reports.

Police believe DUI reports are becoming more of a problem due to the recent developments of new restaurants and popular bars around UCF campus.

In 2013, a total of 209 underage drivers were arrested and charged with DUIs by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. This is a whopping 48 percent increase from 2012. Of these arrests, 91 were made by OCSO within 2 miles of UCF, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the total arrests in Orange County. Moreover, more than 50 percent of these arrests involved UCF students.

DUI walkIn zone 22, which is where UCF is located, between Oct. 1, 2012 and April 30, 2013, a total of  168 arrests were made by state deputies and troopers. Another 15 arrests were made by the UCF Police Department.

During this same six-month period in 2013 to 2014, 244 arrests were made by state deputies and troopers, and 39 arrests were made by UCFPD. For Orange County, this is a 45 percent increase from last year. For UCFPD, this is a 160 percent increase.

The UCFPD made 63 DUI arrests in 2013, and 38 administrative suspensions were given to people under the age of 21 who were stopped and had more than a .02 breath alcohol content. Current reports indicate that UCFPD has made 17 DUI arrests this year.

Even when comparing these numbers to other counties and college areas in Florida such as Alachua County, where the University of Florida is located, Orange County and UCF still take first place.

According to the records bureau chief for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has 199 offense reports associated with impaired or reckless driver related incidents in 2013. Of these 199, nine occurred within 2 miles of the University of Florida, 82 reports less than UCF. At Florida State University in Tallahassee, from May 2013 to May 2014 there were only three reports within 2 miles of the college, 88 less than UCF.

A recent study conducted by the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health reported that one out of every five college students has admitted to getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, when you are arrested for DUI as a student, there are many serious ramifications that accompany a DUI conviction that could follow you around for the rest of your life.

Just like anyone else arrested for DUI, college students facing these charges could possibly serve jail time, have their driver’s licenses suspended, be placed on probation, ordered to partake in community service and pay large fines. However, you could be looking at additional penalties as a college student, including having your student loans or grants revoked or possibly getting kicked out of school. Due to the serious consequences associated with a DUI, you must get legal help as soon as possible. A Florida DUI Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help you achieve the best possible outcome following a DUI arrest.

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A University of Florida football player was arrested last month for DUI on a scooter.

The Florida freshman walk-on punter was arrested in the early morning hours on June 29 and charged with driving under the influence.

The 19-year-old was arrested by Gainesville Police after allegedly running a stop sign on his scooter.

Police claim he ran the stop sign early Saturday morning, right in front of a Gainesville
Police officer who was about to make his way through the intersection.

According to the police report, once the student saw the police car, he swerved and almost fell off his scooter.

Police say he was able to recover and steady the motor scooter, and then pulled out his cell phone and attempted to drive away.

The police officer followed the freshman to a nearby parking garage and stopped him.

The arrest report notes that the student smelled strongly of alcohol and had watery, bloodshot eyes that appeared to be extremely dilated.

The 19-year-old, who turns 20 in September, reportedly refused multiple sobriety tests and apparently told police he did not live in Gainesville.

1058830_scooter.jpgReports indicate that he denied he was drinking, but did admit to being at a local bar.

The freshman was booked into the Alachua County Jail around 4:30 a.m. that morning.
There has been no news on what disciplinary action will be enforced from Gator Head Coach Will Muschamp and the team.

While the allegations against this Florida football player have yet to be proved, if you have a few drinks at a bar and opt to driver your scooter home thinking this will save you from a possible DUI, you are sadly mistaken. Driving a scooter with a blood alcohol level at 0.08 or above could lead to you being charged with DUI. In the state of Florida the term “vehicle” does not simply mean a car, truck or SUV. In fact, mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters and even lawn mowers are considered “vehicles” under state DUI laws.

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