Articles Posted in DUI

As Florida juvenile defense attorneys, we have seen an increasing number of criminal cases wherein the contents of one’s smartphone have become exceedingly relevant. It’s not just teens who have become reliant on smartphones of course. The Pew Research Center reports 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind and 77 percent have a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011 when researchers conducted the first survey of smartphone ownership. Juvenile criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know that because these devices contain a wealth of personal data on each owner, it has raised all sorts of complex legal questions about privacy and evidence collection in the course of a criminal investigation and prosecution.Fort Lauderdale juvenile defense

One question now poised for review by the Florida Supreme Court is whether a defendant’s smartphone passcode – unique to each person and the only way by which content on that device can be accessed – can be compelled by police or prosecutors. Two Florida appellate courts are split on the issue.

However, the tide may turn in favor of personal privacy protection, given the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court that covers Florida), which ruled forced decryption of a smartphone amounted to violation of a defendant’s constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Continue reading

Since the passage of Amendment 2 in 2016, Florida lawmakers have been trying to weed through the state’s already-complex marijuana statutes to hammer out new rules for growing, processing, distributing and possessing/ using the plant. Some individual cities have adopted their own ordinances with regard to recreational marijuana, which has led to many people being confused about what’s legal and what isn’t in Florida.marijuana defense lawyer

What we can say for certain is that Amendment 2 did NOT:

  • Alter Florida’s drug possession laws;
  • Change the fact that you can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana – medical or not;
  • Grant permission for the public consumption/ smoking of the drug;
  • Have any impact on federal law, which expressly prohibits marijuana possession and distribution, regardless of purpose.

Continue reading

A recent decision by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals makes it clear that police have the right to stop you for license plate framing that obstructs ANY portion of the words on the plate. That means police have yet one more reason to initiate traffic stops (which can lead to additional charges).criminal defense attorney

In Florida v. Pena, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Assistant Attorney General Christina Dominguez argued for the state, citing in particular the statute F.S. 316.605(1), which states that license plates must keep plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the front or rear “all letters, numerals, printing, writing and other identification marks upon the plates regarding the word ‘Florida,’ the registration decal and the alphanumeric designation.”

Defendant in this case alleged the Miami traffic stop was illegal – and the trial court agreed, meaning any other evidence gleaned thereafter would be inadmissible. However, the 3rd DCA reversed.  Continue reading

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

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