Articles Posted in DUI

Marijuana use is gaining acceptance in a growing number of states across the country, and it’s even approved in Florida for limited medicinal uses. Many municipalities have decriminalized personal possession, but that doesn’t mean people can use it with impunity – particularly on the roads.marijuana DUI defense

In fact, nothing about F.S. 316.193, Florida’s driving under the influence statute, has been altered to allow drivers operating vehicles under the influence of marijuana to do so with any greater freedom. But the increased popularity has led the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to allocate $5 million to a public service campaign to warn people of the consequences for driving while high. The “Drive Baked, Get Busted” initiative is an attempt to discourage people from driving after they have smoked or otherwise consumed marijuana. The campaign has already started cropping up on billboards and on local television and radio broadcasts statewide.

The state is specifically targeting motorists 18 to 34, as well as those 55 to 74. Additionally, authorities plan to start collecting data on positive drug test results gleaned in traffic crash investigations, with the goal of helping policymakers ascertain how frequently drug use plays a part in crashes and other traffic offenses. These tests are likely to be similar to what are used in roadside tests used to ascertain sobriety, except they would likely use urine as opposed to breath. But as our criminal defense attorneys know well, the challenge here – and with prosecutions of drivers accused of DUI marijuana – is how to ascertain if someone is actually under the influence, or merely consumed marijuana at some point recently. Continue reading

If you have been charged and convicted of a DUI in Florida, that’s not necessarily the end of the story. Depending on the circumstances and the details of your trial or plea deal, there could be an opportunity to appeal the conviction or the sentence – but you’ll need a good DUI defense lawyer to be successful.DUI appeal attorney

It’s important to note that not all cases will be ripe for appeal, and simply not liking the sentence or the permanence of a DUI conviction on your record won’t be enough. Typically, there has to be some kind of error made during the trial or sentencing in order to file a successful appeal of a DUI conviction. Because there are stringent time limits (usually just 30 days post-conviction) in which to file, it’s imperative you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Recently in Escambia County, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld a 15-year prison sentence for a man convicted of a 2013 crash that resulted in the death of a passenger. Defendant was convicted of DUI manslaughter, which under F.S. 316.193 carries a maximum penalty of 15 years, as it is a second-degree felony. The fact that he was also convicted of DUI property damage meant that his sentence was longer than most for first-time offenders, though the judge did allow him to serve these terms concurrently (at the same time) rather than consecutively (back-to-back).  Continue reading

It’s become increasingly common in Florida DUI cases for prosecutors to rely heavily on the investigation and testimony of drug recognition experts (DREs). These are police officers who are specially trained to recognize the signs of impairment in drivers who are under the influence of drugs. DUI defense

Last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that for the first time, drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had used a legal or illegal drug, surpassing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. It’s worth noting that researchers were unable to definitively say there was a causal link between the presence of those drugs and the crash, or even that the drugs were present in levels that indicated impairment.

F.S. 316.193 makes it clear that no driver is allowed to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any substance – legal or otherwise – if it impairs his or her normal faculties. But while legislators have created a per se limit of intoxication that pertains to alcohol consumption (0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath), no such cut-off exists for drug impairment. That means the question of whether someone is “under the influence” is often a subjective question that comes down to the observation of the arresting officer – who has more credibility in a courtroom with DRE certification. That does not mean the assertions made by that officer are correct. Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys encourage all defendants to remain respectfully silent during questioning and ask to speak to a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Continue reading

In a per curium ruling, the Florida Supreme Court upheld an appellate court decision rejecting defense challenges to blood sample collection of suspects in felony DUI cases. It was a case watched closely by many Florida DUI defense lawyers because had the court ruled in defendant’s favor, it could have meant the potential for numerous successful challenges to pending DUI cases. Now it appears there will be no change.DUI defense

The DUI conviction was a high profile one which you may recall involving a South Florida polo mogul and a recent college graduate in his early 20s. Defendant is serving a 16-year sentence following conviction on charges of DUI manslaughter after the fatal crash killed the young man, who drowned after his vehicle was launched into a canal.

This is one of a string of challenges he has mounted to fight the validity of the charges and his subsequent conviction. His South Florida defense attorneys argued people subjected to DUI blood tests in Florida have no opportunity to make sure the blood samples are scientifically reliable. Further there are no guidelines for the type of needle used and no independent assurance that testing labs will discard samples that are clotted or irregular prior to felony DUI cases going to trial. Continue reading

Felony convictions against a man accused of killing two while driving drunk were reversed recently by an appellate court in Illinois, which ruled the DUI testing after his arrest was unconstitutional. DUI defense lawyer

Although this issue takes place outside of Florida, it’s one motorists in the Sunshine State have had to grapple with as well. It was a very similar case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 with Missouri v. McNeely. That was a landmark case in which the court ruled that when it comes to drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in one’s blood stream is not sufficient grounds to argue exigent circumstances in every case that would justify conducting a blood test absent a warrant. In other words, there may be some cases in which a warrantless blood draw is justified, but it has to be based on more than just the fact that alcohol quickly leaves the body.

Even with that instruction, courts across the country continue to grapple with these questions, trying to balance the scales between the rights of the accused and gathering all pertinent information in these serious felony cases.  Continue reading

Facing down a criminal conviction can be incredibly unnerving, but fleeing can leave you in even bigger trouble than before you started. That’s because failure to appear is a charge in and of itself that can have serious consequences, even if you are ultimately found not guilty of the original crimes. handcuff-300x114

This was seen recently in a case involving a Bahamian man who reportedly fled the country while awaiting sentencing for his DUI manslaughter conviction in 2000 following a crash that resulted in the death of a 44-year-old married mother of two. He was fighting his conviction first in Palm Beach County courts and then in his native country, but he lost his appeal in 2003 and was ordered to report to Palm Beach County to serve his sentence, according to the Palm Beach Post. Instead, he allegedly cut off his ankle bracelet and fled. He was arrested by authorities in the Bahamas and after exhausting all appeals, was extradited. Now in addition to the DUI manslaughter conviction, he is facing two failure to appear charges.

F.S. 843.15 outlines failure of defendant on bail to appear. The law says that anyone who is released pursuant to F.S. Chapter 903 and who willfully fails to appear before any court or judicial officer as required incurs a forfeiture of any security that was promised or given as a condition of release. If he or she was released in connection with a felony charge or while awaiting sentence or pending appellate court review after conviction, it’s considered a third-degree felony, meaning it’s punishable by up to five years in prison. That’s on top of the original sentence. Continue reading

A Florida woman who allegedly rode her horse slowly down a busy highway while intoxicated was arrested for DUI recently. Although Florida is practically infamous for it’s bizarre news, even this seemed a bit over-the-top. Plus, it raises a number of questions about the scenarios in which F.S. 316.193, Florida’s drunk driving law, can be applied. DUI Defense attorney

The law allows penalties for those who “are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state” and are also either under the influence of alcohol to the extent his or her normal faculties are impaired OR the individual has a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeds 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. But is a horse a vehicle? What about a motorized wheelchair or shopping cart or lawn mower or bicycle?

Florida residents have been arrested for DUI for operation of each of these scenarios. And while there is legal precedent that could support a conviction, our experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys recognize there may be ample opportunity to fight for either a reduction of charges, if not an outright dismissal, in these non-conventional DUI arrests.  Continue reading

The majority of criminal defense cases that aren’t dismissed or result in acquittal are resolved through plea deals. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports two-thirds of felony defendants in the U.S. are eventually convicted and 95 percent of those convictions occur through plea bargains.DUI defense attorney

Criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale know that doesn’t necessarily mean these defendants are getting a raw deal. In many cases, these plea deals are agreements to plead guilty to far lesser offenses, resulting in fewer penalties than defendant may have been facing initially. Still, where there is ever an opportunity to fight for dismissal or acquittal, our attorneys won’t hesitate to do so. Plea bargain agreements are only for cases where the weight of the evidence is clearly against the defendant and the attorney is confident that negotiation with the prosecutor can result in an advantageous outcome for defendant, considering the circumstances.

That said, defendants must be prepared to abide by the terms of the plea bargain, or else risk the possibility that the maximum penalty could still be imposed. Even during the plea bargain negotiation process, defendants need to be mindful of their conduct. The Miami Herald reports one case recently where a plea deal following a serious DUI crash fell apart after defendant’s drug test was returned positive – a violation of her conditions for release from jail pending trial. Continue reading

Following a Fort Lauderdale DUI arrest, the primary goal of our DUI defense attorneys is to challenge the charge outright and secure a dismissal or not guilty verdict. However, when the unfavorable evidence is substantial and chances of that are slim, we may adjust our strategy to negotiate with prosecutors, requesting to amend the charge from DUI to the less serious offense of reckless driving. DUI Defense Attorney

This is precisely what golf pro Tiger Woods did after his Florida DUI arrest in Palm Beach County earlier this year. Authorities arrested him after he was reportedly found passed out at the wheel of his vehicle. He was accused of intoxication with prescription drugs and marijuana. There was no alcohol in his system. He would later release a statement saying he was attempting to self-medicate to relieve pain from a previous back surgery and insomnia.

By pleading down to reckless driving, F.S. 316.192, as opposed to DUI, F.S. 316.193, defendants can avoid many of the negative consequences that accompany the more serious charge. Continue reading

In cases that result in drunk driving convictions, a judge may assign varying penalties, depending on things like defendant’s prior criminal record and whether anyone was injured.  In some cases that result in direct injury to another person, the court may order restitution. This is money paid by defendant to the victim in order to compensate for certain losses.criminal defense lawyer

It is separate and apart from any civil liability action that may be taken by victim(s). Victims can sue a drunk driver in civil court to obtain compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, loss of life enjoyment, pain and suffering, etc. The circumstances under which restitution may be compelled are spelled out in F.S. 775.089.

If a judge in a criminal case orders you to pay restitution, it would be unwise to seek the public’s help in paying it. The reason is that while the intention is to compensate the victim, criminal courts are concerned with penalizing poor choices. That means the person who commits the crime is responsible to pay the penalties for that violation. Recently, a man convicted of two counts of DUI manslaughter in Texas raised ire and generated headlines when he created a GoFundMe account to help pay his court-ordered restitution following a conviction for a crash that killed to highway workers. At the time, defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.118, more than double the legal limit.  Continue reading