Articles Posted in Underage DUI

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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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.

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Around 40 million drivers will be travelling on the roadways over the long Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with family and friends. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the most travelled holiday period of the year. It is estimated that 418 people will lose their lives in motor vehicle collisions in the United States this Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Safety Council.

For college students, Thanksgiving Eve is sometimes referred to as “Black Wednesday,” and it is unofficially known as the busiest bar night of the year, which means it is also the biggest drunk driving night of the year.

As many people celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, their celebration also includes the use of not just alcohol, but also drugs. Alcohol or drugs, or a combination of them, will put drivers at risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accidents that could kill or injure themselves as well as others.

It is important to mention that Florida has a Zero Tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Any driver who is under 21 who is stopped by law enforcement officers and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically have his or her Florida driver’s license suspended for six months. There are many other devastating consequences that accompany a DUI conviction, including academic penalties as well as criminal consequences.

Avoid a DUI this Thanksgiving

There are a few tips that can be followed to prevent DUI injuries and deaths, including:

  • Plan a safe way to get home before heading out to your party
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver
  • If you are intoxicated, please do not get behind the wheel of a car. Call a taxi, use public transportation, call a sober friend or family member, or even use a ride share app such as Uber or Lyft so that you are sure to get home safely.
  • Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

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Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, 20, was suspended for one game on Saturday after he was arrested earlier that morning for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, otherwise known as OVI.

According to ESPN, Barrett was trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint near the Ohio State campus and failed a Breathalyzer test.

His blood-alcohol content was .099, which is above the legal limit. He could have been suspended for two games under the school’s student-athlete drug and alcohol policy, but was only suspended for one game since the charge was a misdemeanor.

Barrett was released to teammate Cardale Jones.

Barrett, who is a sophomore, will be eligible to return on November 14. Ohio State, who is 8-0 this season, has a bye week this week and plays Minnesota next week.

People under 21 years old do not have to be drunk,  or even “buzzed,” to be arrested and convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state of Florida.

Special laws apply to minors because they are not legally allowed to consume any alcohol at all, and the consequences can be especially serious for college students. Any amount of alcohol in your system if you are pulled over can lead to a DUI arrest, which could result in a driver’s license suspension, potential jail time, significant fines and other life-changing consequences.

College students charged with DUI have a lot at stake and deserve personalized attention to their unique concerns when it comes to their criminal defense. Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will listen to your side of the story, investigate all circumstances and possible defense strategies thoroughly, and offer our sound legal advice based on our years of experience in Florida criminal courts.

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The UCF Police Department, in partnership with Florida Highway Patrol, Orange County and Seminole County sheriff’s offices, will be amping up their efforts to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads Friday.

The agencies will be on the lookout for impaired drivers in the UCF area, according to reports.

This increase in patrols coincides with campus move-in and many students first night of freedom. Those suspected of driving under the influence will be pulled over and asked to complete a roadside sobriety test.

UCF PD and OCSO’s newly implemented program SNAP will also be in effect, and those violating drinking laws will be subject to written or physical arrests along with Office of Student Conduct referrals.

If arrested for DUI, drivers will be transported to OCSO’s blood-alcohol testing trailer, which is stationed near the Bright House Networks Stadium, for a breath sample before being taken to jail. Drivers under the influence who are under 21 will face consequences even if they are below the legal limit.

According to the release, “UCF PD’s goal is to reduce the crashes, injuries and fatalities that come from impaired driving, and police will have zero tolerance for those breaking the law.”

DUI checkpoints are roadblocks set up by law enforcement officials to check the sobriety of drivers in the vicinity. Officers will typically stop all or some of the vehicles to check for possible impairments, either by alcohol or drugs. Patrols are usually set up during times when people are most likely to be out drinking –  late at night during the end of the week and on weekends.

If you have recently been arrested at a DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interests to speak with a Florida DUI Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. If you are convicted of DUI, the consequences can be severe, including the following potential penalties:

  • Loss of your driver’s license
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Substantial fines and fees
  • Court ordered alcohol/drug treatment or classes
  • Increased auto insurance premiums

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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