Articles Posted in Hillsborough County

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.

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

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.

Continue reading

A 31-year-old woman who killed two sisters in a 2012 DUI crash has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

On Tuesday, the judge also ordered for the woman’s prison term to be followed by 10 years of probation, a stipulation that prohibits her from consuming alcohol or going to bars.

3041221202_eebf02b178_zAccording to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the woman’s blood alcohol content was 0.106 percent when she drove the wrong way down a highway and crashed into a car carrying the two sisters on Jan. 12, 2012. It was her second DUI arrest. In 2007, her DUI charge was pleaded down to reckless driving and she received six months of probation.

It is quite dangerous to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol can be a big factor in many auto accidents. If you have been charged with drunk driving following an accident that caused the death or injury of another person, police and prosecutors will automatically assume your blood alcohol content was the sole cause of the accident.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A Tampa man is facing his sixth DUI charge in 10 years after a hit-and-run crash in Miramar, according to police.

At the man’s first court appearance, a Broward judge set bail at $85,000, after reviewing the man’s arrest record.

The man apparently has three previous DUIs in Tennessee and two in Virginia.

In this case, the man allegedly got into a crash and took off.

6469630651_3689c55464_mThe 46-year-old was apparently driving a 1998 red Ford Ranger in the 6800 block of East Woodscape Drive around 10:15 p.m. Sunday when he crashed into a 2013 black Ford Fusion, according to the arrest report.

The man allegedly got out of the truck and ran away. Two of the passengers in the Fusion chased him and caught him at 6800 SW 41st St. and held him until police arrived, the report stated.

Officers noted that the man had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and bloodshot eyes. They conducted a roadside sobriety test and claim the man had difficulty standing up and maintaining his balance.

The man was then taken to the Breath Alcohol Testing center, where he complained of pain in his arms, according to the report.

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue checked his condition and offered to take him to the hospital but the man refused. He also refused to take a breath-alcohol or physical dexterity test, according to police.

He was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of a crash causing property damage and driving without a valid license.

Florida law enforcement does not discriminate when it comes to charging individuals with driving under the influence. Numerous men, women, young adults, students and even celebrities face DUI charges in our state each year. The penalties for DUI can include license revocation, jail time, fines and/or community service. However, if you were previously convicted of a DUI, the penalties you could face are much more severe.

If you have multiple prior DUI convictions within a period of 10 years, this includes out of state DUI convictions, the fourth will most likely be charged as a felony. In addition to substantial fines and other consequences, a felony conviction will result in a mandatory prison, unless a deal is reached where you could possibly receive probation. In Florida, however, a state prison sentence is becoming more and more common.

Continue reading

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.

Contact Information