Following a Broward Circuit judge’s conviction for driving under the influence in Boca Raton, it was agreed she would suffer additional sanctions.
Those included a 20-day, unpaid suspension from the bench, a public reprimand and a $5,000 fine As well, she must undergo an evaluation for alcohol abuse and addiction and has to complete any recommended treatment, per the contract she holds with the Florida Lawyers Assistance Program. The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission gave the judge 20 days to file a formal response to those recommendations, which are then forwarded to the Florida Supreme Court for final approval or rejection.
The decision stems from a conviction several months ago on two misdemeanor counts – driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. Defendant judge was sentenced to house arrest for 20 days, and then one year of probation. Although this is the second DUI conviction the judge has received, the panel held the incidents were not reflective of her work, considering the first arrest occurred in 1988. Additionally, the panel found the most recent arrest did not affect her work on the bench, as her colleagues continue to hold her in high regard.
Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys highlight this case for a couple of reasons. The first is that it’s local, and it’s always valuable to note that DUI is a charge often faced by those of varying backgrounds and professions. Many times, the individual has no prior criminal record at all.
Another important point is that conviction for DUI can have consequences that go beyond the state criminal penalties. Primarily, the concern is the potential effect a conviction may have on one’s employment. This is true not just for high-profile public servants, but for those in many other occupations.
Those who are professional drivers, in particular, may face serious work-related sanctions and possibly even termination for a drunk driving conviction. In some cases, community service, alcohol treatment or other requirements made by the judge can impact a person’s ability to show up for work or get there on time. This can result in major problems, even if an employer doesn’t specifically hand down a separate punishment or consequence for the conviction.
As defense attorneys, our goal is always to lessen the blow. First, we will analyze the strength of the evidence in the case and, if possible, work to have the charges significantly reduced or dismissed. We will look at how the police officers did their jobs, and whether any legal missteps should result in a suppression of key evidence.
We will additionally challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer test results. If there was no blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol testing, we will seek to challenge the veracity of the circumstantial evidence upon which the charges are based.
If those approaches are not optional, we may examine negotiating an advantageous plea bargain with prosecutors on your behalf. That may involve an agreement to plead guilty on a lesser charge or in exchange for significantly reduced penalties. It will depend heavily on the underlying facts and situation, but if your attorney is successful in a reduction or dismissal of charges, it’s possible many of those secondary sanctions will not be implemented. That’s why choosing a good criminal defense attorney is so important.
It’s also worth noting, as an aside, that if you are in a higher-profile position, it’s best not to point that out to the officers on scene. That’s what the judge in this case did, and she was scolded for it by the commission, who stated she should have never displayed her judicial badge or referred to her status in any way that could have been construed as an attempt to use her office to receive preferential treatment.
Even those who aren’t judges have attempted this approach, and it rarely works out in their favor – particularly in the court of public opinion.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Broward Judge Imperato faces suspension, fine over DUI arrest, March 2, 2015, By Rafael Olmeda, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Sobriety Eye Tests Under Fire in DUI Cases, Feb. 14, 2015, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Lawyer Blog