Articles Posted in Traffic

If you regularly tune into the evening news or pick up a daily paper, you could be forgiven for thinking the most common offenses encountered by Broward law enforcement are things like shootouts, sexual assaults and gang crimes. Reality check: One of the most common (if not THE most common) is an offense known as “Driving With a Suspended License.” In Florida, if you are caught driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, it could be considered a serious criminal charge, accompanied by long-term negative consequences for one’s driving privileges and criminal record. But what you also may not know is that prosecutors bear the burden of proof in these cases, and if they cannot prove you knew or should have known your license was suspended, it becomes a relatively minor traffic offense.driving while license suspended

The statute to which we refer – F.S. 322.34 – details the penalty for driving with a suspended license, which requires knowledge of the suspension, revocation or cancellation. It can result in a jail sentence of up to two months, plus a $500 fine. A second offense is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail. A third or subsequent offense is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison (yes – state prison), and a fine of up to $5,000. If that third offense is committed within a five-year period of the other two, you will be considered a habitual traffic offender, which further results in a driver’s license revocation that lasts 5 years. You might be eligible to obtain a hardship license – but only after one full year elapses from your most recent conviction.

If you’re on probation, you could be in serious trouble for driving with a suspended license. Consider the case of Stringfield v. State, weighed by Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal in August. Defendant was sentenced to 15 years in prison after the court revoked his probation upon finding he broke the law when he drove his motor vehicle while his license was suspended. This may seem like a stunning miscarriage of justice, but it was perfectly legal – except that defendant successfully appealed on the issue of “knowledge.”  Continue reading

Many times a person is pulled over on what the police call a routine traffic stop and end up finding weapons, drugs, or other contraband.  However, if the police did not have probable cause to search the vehicle, or another valid reason to search the vehicle, experienced Miami criminal defense attorneys can move to have all of the evidence excluded from trial after filing a motion to suppress evidence.

DUI Defense AttorneyThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives people the protection from having their persons, homes, papers, vehicles, and other possessions searched without a warrant, probable cause, a reasonable suspicion (in some cases), or another legally-valid reason to conduct the search.  If an officer witnesses a traffic infraction, which may constitute the suspected violation of a traffic ordinance, the officer has a right to stop the vehicle. At this point, the officer has a right to run the suspect’s license plate to find out if the car is reported stolen, and to see who the owner of the vehicle is.  The officer can also request proof of insurance, registration, and the driver’s license of the operator of the motor vehicle. Continue reading

People in the U.S. have a number of Constitutional rights that ensure (among other things) due process as they go about their lives. One of those, as outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. It has long been established that warrants are generally required to initiate a non-consensual search of one’s person or property. However, there is an automobile exception that allows warrantless searches if the vehicle is traveling on a public road and the law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion of a crime. criminal defense attorney Fort Lauderdale

Now, in what’s being hailed a win for privacy rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has just handed down an 8-1 decision holding police are not allowed to search the area around a private home absent a warrant – even if they believe they’ve seen stolen property on site. A motorcycle in a driveway was was started this particular case.

Officers at a county police agency in Virginia say they attempted to initiate a traffic stop of a motorcycle rider on two different occasions, but both times, the driver evaded. Police were able to learn from those encounters that the motorcycle in question was stolen. A suspect was identified, based on Facebook photos the suspect had posted of the motorcycle in question, which was parked at suspect’s girlfriend’s home. An officer went to that location, where a motorcycle was spotted – covered by a tarp – in the driveway. The officer – who did not have a warrant and was not invited onto the property – removed the tarp. Based on the information he gathered, he identified the bike as stolen and arrested the suspect – who claimed he purchased the motorcycle without a title. He was charged with receiving stolen property. Continue reading

A South-Florida-based tech company founded by a non-attorney promises to allow drivers to effectively fight their traffic tickets from their smartphones. Playing what is essentially a game of averages, the startup app launched a service that offers drivers resolution to their traffic ticket for a fee that is 15 to 20 percent less than the ticket fee. The app then contacts someone in a network of independent lawyers, who then fight the traffic ticket. If the attorney loses, the app will refund the driver’s money. If they win, then they pay more than they might have for beating the ticket, but walk away with a clean driving record. criminal defense lawyer

This has not gone over well at all with the Florida Bar or several criminal defense law firms. The biggest problem with this app is that it is not a law firm. It is not operated by attorneys. Florida statutes are very stringent when it comes to restricting who may offer legal advice to people seeking counsel. The Florida Bar has received complaints claiming the tech start-up is effectively practicing law without a license. The attorneys who have been working with the app have reportedly had grievances filed against them, with requests to have them disbarred.

The tech company, operational in 28 Florida locations and 15 California locations, has reportedly helped to resolve millions of traffic tickets. It is suing both private criminal defense firms as well as The Florida Bar, which it alleges have helped anti-competition by dragging out its investigation for nearly a year. But private defense attorneys say the company is engaged in the unlicensed practice of law, which is not only against the ethics laid out by the Florida Bar, it’s also against the law. The Florida Bar voted last month to pursue litigation against the tech firm for violating its rules. As for criminal charges, none are pending at the moment, but, Florida Statute 454.23 stipulates the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law in Florida by anyone who holds himself or herself out to be qualified to practice law or who pretends to be or willfully takes/ uses any name, title or description implying they are qualified, is a third-degree felony. A conviction carries up to five years in prison. Continue reading

A Palm Beach County man accused of DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal bicycle accident received a sentence of 12 years behind bars, following his conviction on the latter charge this summer. He’d been acquitted of DUI manslaughter, the Palm Beach Post reported. DUI defense attorney

This case was in the headlines for a number of reasons, most obviously because it involved the death of a 65-year-old bicyclist. However, there was more to it. Initially, the defendant’s girlfriend, who had been in the passenger seat, agreed to tell officers at the scene that she had been the one driving. The pair reportedly made the decision due to the fact her boyfriend had a prior conviction for driving with a suspended license, and they knew whatever sentence was to be received was harsh. She spent more than a year on house arrest before providing prosecutors with evidence – both emails and text messages shared between the pair – that indicated his alleged guilt.

The DUI manslaughter charge was a difficult one to prove from the outset because responding officers never tested defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration at the scene of the crash, given that they did not believe him to be the driver. However, a change in Florida law pursuant to hit-and-run crashes means drivers who flee the scene of a deadly crash, per F.S. 316.027, face the same minimum mandatory sentence – four years – as someone convicted of DUI manslaughter, per F.S. 316.193. The change in law was meant to serve as an incentive to possibly impaired drivers to remain at the scene of serious crashes and render aid, as required by law.  Continue reading

A new report co-published by the Florida Times Union and journalism non-profit ProPublica revealed strong evidence that the sheriff’s office in Jacksonville has been racially profiling people of color for pedestrian citations. While such tickets might seem a minor annoyance, the disproportionate way in which they are reportedly being doled out raises serious concerns that the department could be disparately deploying justice. If it’s happening with pedestrian tickets, it’s not an enormous leap of logic to suppose it may be happening when it comes to other offenses too.traffic ticket attorney

Our traffic ticket defense lawyers know that a simple allegation of racial discrimination won’t necessarily stand up as a defense in court. While it could be grounds to file a civil rights lawsuit, in criminal or traffic courts, the main issue will be the reasonable suspicion to stop the individual and the strength of evidence of a crime or violation.

As far as these citations, Florida has a wide range of 28 different statutes pedestrians are required to follow. There are prohibitions on everything from jaywalking to crossing the street against a red light. Local ordinance in Jacksonville also allows ticketing for crossing the street at anything other than a right angle, crossing at a yellow light or not walking on the left side of the road that lacks a sidewalk. The sheriff’s office insists it must vigorously enforce these provisions because Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the country. That is true, of course, but the journalists discovered the laws aren’t being applied unilaterally. Continue reading

Citizens have certain constitutional rights when it comes to interactions with police and other law enforcement agencies. Those rights do not disappear the moment they get behind the wheel of a car. Still, it is true that motorists don’t necessarily have free reign in police interactions. For example, there is implied consent, which per F.S. 316.1932 allows police to compel drivers to submit to breath alcohol testing upon reasonable suspicion of intoxication. A refusal results in an automatic, year-long driver’s license suspension. Police have the right to temporarily stop drivers in sobriety checkpoints, so long as these operations follow certain legal protocols, such as ensuring vehicles are stopped purely at random. policecar

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, considered a case that raised the question of whether police can retaliate against a citizen for refusing to answer police questions. This is a civil case, as opposed to a criminal one, but it deals with important matters pertinent to those in a traffic stop.

According to court records, plaintiff was pulled over and declined to answer police questions. According to his complaint (and the court assumes these facts to be true at this stage, though they could later be proven incorrect), the sergeant at that point retaliated against this refusal to answer questions by ordering plaintiff out of the vehicle and then putting him face down on the ground.  Continue reading

Boynton Beach city officials have said they plan to continue taking their red light camera cases to court, at least for now, despite a long-simmering legal battle and questions over the constitutionality of the practice. traffic light

The Sun Sentinel reports the city has vowed to continue pursuing these red light camera cases, which cost about $195 in legal fees every time the city takes one to court. The cost of a red light camera ticket is $158. While the city racked up some $5,000 in legal costs related to these tickets just in February, those figures were down to about $3,400 by March. Meanwhile, the city’s income stream has remained steady as people continue to simply pay the tickets in full. The city’s attorney reported there were nearly 5,520 active read light camera cases as of this month, and more than 60 percent of those accused simply pay the tickets without contesting.

To contest one of these tickets, it can take anywhere from half a year to a full 12 months to process.  Continue reading

Technology has made our communications and interactions instantaneous. It’s become second-nature to document almost every waking moment – from what we’re eating for breakfast to conflicts at work to expressions of affection, amusing observations and plans.cell phone

But the platforms on which we share these insights and information aren’t as private as we might think. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have gotten very adept at scouring these sites for evidence that may help bolster a criminal case. That could include identification of a suspect or evidence that might be used against a known person or both. People need to be very mindful of this fact when they go to post anything on the internet – even in seemingly closed communications.

Recently, The Sun Sentinel reported Hollywood police officers were able to track down a man who evaded police with active lights-and-sirens on an all-terrain vehicle while riding down the highway during a, “Bikes Up, Guns Down” event in January. This was an impressive feat considering the officers didn’t know the man’s name, the ATV didn’t have a plate number on it and the man lived 1,150 miles away and returned home shortly after the incident. How did they do it? A cell phone selfie-style video. Continue reading

The boy was just 15-years-old in November 2015, allegedly driving a stolen Mustang convertible at reported speeds of up to 120 mph as he tried to evade the police officers chasing him, lights flashing. speeding car

At the same time, a woman was on her way to pick up her own teenager, a 16-year-old girl who was in dance class. She never saw the convertible that crossed through that intersection. The 46-year-old woman, a mother of two, was ejected from the vehicle and died instantly, according to The Sun-Sentinel. The crash occurred at the intersection of Palmetto Park Road and Northwest Second Avenue, after the teen reportedly ran a red light.

Prosecutors have direct-filed the teen as an adult on charges of vehicular homicide, fleeing the scene of a fatal crash and driving without a license. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 25 years in prison. His first trial took place in January and ended in a mistrial. Jurors reportedly deliberated for more than nine hours and still were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.  Continue reading

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