Articles Posted in Pinellas County

A Seminole man faces a charge of DUI after the Florida Highway Patrol claims he was driving the wrong way on Interstate 275 for nearly eight miles in St. Petersburg early Monday morning.

According to troopers, the 26-year-old was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of the highway around 4 a.m. and made it about eight miles without crashing before he was pulled over by St. Petersburg Police.

The man was eventually pulled over near Roosevelt Boulevard after he was initially seen driving the wrong direction at the 5th Avenue North exit, troopers said.

He faces charges of DUI and possession of a controlled substance and is being held at the Pinellas County Jail with bail set at $2,500.

When you are charged with DUI, you must take these charges seriously. There are possible defenses to beat these charges, but you need legal help, and the sooner the better. A Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can review the facts of your case and collect any pertinent evidence to assist with your case. We will also make sure that police followed proper protocols when making your arrest. If any procedural errors did occur, we can work to have the charges against you dropped.

 

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A Florida police officer is facing a second DUI charge after he was apparently found asleep inside his car.

St. Petersburg police said the 36-year-old was booked into jail early Tuesday and was being held on a $500 bond.

In December 2009, authorities claim the man drove over a concrete median and struck a sedan. The man apparently kept driving and hit another vehicle.

No one was harmed in either crash. Records indicate the man’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit to drive in Florida. He was convicted on charges of DUI and leaving a crash scene.

Prosecutors view DUI charges quite seriously in the state of Florida. This means that it is equally important for you to take these charges seriously and speak with a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton.

In Florida, the consequences attached to a second DUI conviction depend on whether the conviction is within 5 years or outside of 5 years of the previous conviction. If the DUI arrest occurs outside of 5 years from any prior DUI conviction, then the DUI will have the following penalties:

  • maximum jail time of 9 months instead of 6 months
  • fines between $1,000 to $2,000 instead of $500 to $1,000
  • an ignition interlock device must be installed for one year

No minimum jail time is required, however the prosecution will likely push for some jail time. The most serious consequence of a second DUI conviction that occurs outside of five years is that you will not be eligible for a hardship license after a second DUI conviction.

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Police said a woman was arrested and charged with DUI after she drove the wrong way on U.S. 19.

The incident occurred early Sunday.

Police have video of the incident and claim the 43-year-old woman was driving north in the southbound lanes near Klosterman Road. She apparently passed an officer, who turned around and stopped her.

Before she was stopped, police believe she hit the bumper of a vehicle that tried to avoid her.

The man and woman inside that vehicle were not harmed.

Fighting DUI charges can be an uphill struggle. An overzealous prosecutor may seek maximum penalties, which can cause you much stress and hardship.

Because of this, if you have had the misfortune of being charged with DUI, it is always a good idea to seek the advocacy of an experienced attorney. It is very important that you understand all of your legal options. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may want to seek a plea agreement or fight the charges in court. Our Tampa Bay DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can advise you on your best course of action and make sure that your rights are protected.

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As you may or may not know, Labor Day weekend is right around the corner. This means a long weekend and gatherings with family and friends. While we want everyone to have fun, be aware that a drunk driving crackdown is currently underway in Tampa.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’ campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is in full effect through September 5th this year, spreading safety awareness and increasing law enforcement presence to try to prevent drunk drivers.

With that said, here are some staggering drunk driving facts from the NHTSA to note:

  • A drunk driver injures someone in a collision about every 2 minutes.
  • A drunk driver kills someone in a tragic wreck every 52 minutes.
  • 2 in every 3 people in the U.S. will be part of a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives – either causing or being the victim in a crash.

Our Tampa DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want everyone to stay safe over the holiday weekend. As you get ready to celebrate, please heed the following advice to avoid a drunk driving tragedy.

  • Get a DD who will stay sober all day/night ahead of time, so you do not have to worry about how to get home.
  • If you are hosting a party and serving alcohol, keep numbers of taxis on hand, or urge people to use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, and do your best to not let intoxicated people get behind the wheel.
  • If you will be driving, stay sober and buckle up. Wearing your seatbelt can reduce your chances of being injured (and killed) by more than 40 percent if you end up being involved in a collision with a drunk driver.

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Charges against a 31-year-old St. Petersburg man accused in a fatal DUI crash have been upgraded now to DUI manslaughter.

The man faces these charges after the death of a woman who passed away late Monday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as a result of her injuries suffered in a traffic crash last weekend.

According to Pinellas Park police, the 34-year-old St. Petersburg woman and her boyfriend were driving just before 1 a.m. Sunday in the 4000 block of Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park when they were struck by a 2016 Toyota Corolla.

Deputies say the 31-year-old man  was drunk when he drove through a red light and struck the woman’s 2003 Toyota Camry.

The woman her boyfriend were rushed to the hospital, where the woman later died. The man remains in critical condition.

In addition to DUI manslaughter, the man is also facing two charges of DUI causing serious bodily injury.

Pinellas Park police said surveillance video from a nearby restaurant captured the crash.

The man refused field sobriety tests at the scene of the crash.

Pinellas Park police did force a blood draw on the man.

DUI manslaughter and DUI causing serious bodily injury cases are quite complex as there are numerous factors that must be addressed immediately. Our Tampa DUI Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are former prosecutors, so we know what types of issues these cases raised. We can examine the evidence with the hopes of answering the following questions:  

  • What was the cause of the accident?
  • Is there any proof of who was actually driving the vehicle?
  • Was your blood alcohol content above or below the legal limit? Was a blood, breath or urine test lawfully obtained by law enforcement?
  • Did your negligence cause the death of another person?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • What do experts and accident reconstructionists have to say about the evidence?

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Drinking and driving in the great state of Florida has some pretty steep consequences.

Wallet Hub compiled a ranking of the strictest and most lenient states in the U.S. with DUI penalties and Florida took the No. 14 spot.

The strictest state in the country is Arizona, followed by Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska while South Dakota, the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Vermont were the most lenient.

According to the site, the data was found by examining 15 categories including minimum jail time, minimum fines, and average insurance rate increase after an arrest. The overall findings showed that the average fine for a first DUI is $347. Wallet Hub also reports that 92 percent of states “require offenders to equip their vehicles with Ignition Interlock devices after DUI.”

In Florida, there is no minimum jail time sentence for a first-time conviction. A second conviction mandates a 10 day minimum time. A DUI becomes a felony after the third offense with older DUI offenses factoring into penalties for up to 10 years.

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A DUI is probably the worst way to celebrate the Fourth of July. The sad truth is that many people will make bad drinking and driving choices over America’s birthday weekend.

Our Tampa DUI Defense Lawyers want to remind drivers of the consequences of choosing to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

  1. DUIs Increase Over the Fourth of July

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10,322 fatalities involving drunk drivers in all of 2012, which accounted for almost one-third of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths that year. From 2008 to 2012, 765 people died in Fourth of July DUI crashes, which makes up roughly 40 percent of traffic fatalities during the five-year period.

  1. Drunk Drivers Are Usually Out At Night

Once the sun sets, the dangers of a DUI increase significantly. According to NHTSA, drivers involved in deadly crashes on July 4, 2012, had rates of impairment 2.5 times higher at night than during the day. With that said, if you have been partying all day and night, you may want to sleep off your buzz and drive home in the morning. You can also use a DD, cab or Lyft or Uber to get home safe and sound and DUI free.

  1. You Will See Many DUI Checkpoints

Every year, Tampa and all other cities throughout Florida and the rest of the United States set up DUI checkpoints to catch drunk drivers during the Fourth of July holiday. Just know that these stops are legal, and you could be stopped at any time without any cause.

  1. If You Are Arrested, Be Prepared To Wait

Holiday weekends mean long weekends for the court system as well, so if you are arrested at the beginning of the three-day Fourth of July weekend you may not stand before a judge until Tuesday. If you can’t make bail, you may have to spend some time in police custody after a DUI arrest, which is never a great way to spend a Fourth of July weekend.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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