Authorities made a South Florida arrest for DUI and child endangerment in Boynton Beach after allegedly discovering a woman drunk behind the wheel of a car in a parking lot with four children jumping in and out of the sunroof.winebottle

According to The Sun Sentinel, the engine of the vehicle was running. It was about 7:30 p.m. and the vehicle was parked in a Publix grocery store parking lot. In the front passenger seat, police say, was a half-empty jug of sangria. The 34-year-old woman in the driver’s seat allegedly had a blood-alcohol concentration of .358, which is more than four times the legal amount of 0.08. This was after she agreed to undergo a blood alcohol test.

Police reported they were called to the parking lot after several witnesses said they had tried to chase the young children out of harm’s way, as they were running around the parking lot and were almost struck by vehicles entering and leaving. One witness called dispatchers and said they had seen the driver drinking in the car from a large jug of wine.  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

The former director of the Florida State Parks was recently arrested for DUI with property damage and hit-and-run, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, which explained the arrest occurred after defendant was stopped by troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol.drink and drive

According to reports, the former official, who also previously worked for the state Department of Environmental Protection, had left the scene of a crash after briefly speaking to the other driver. Troopers were called to the scene by that other driver around 7 p.m. on a Saturday. The driver reported he was traveling south when a Mercedes Benz, later identified by police as being driven by the former official, traveling in the same direction veered into his lane and struck his driver’s side mirror in passing.

The defendant reportedly pulled over, talked to the other driver for a minute, then rolled up her window and abruptly drove away. Dispatchers then started receiving other calls about a vehicle matching that description in the same area running other motorists off the road Continue reading

City police in Hollywood are taking aim at those previously arrested for domestic violence, vowing beefed up penalties and scrutiny – up to and including unannounced, uninvited police checks on individual residences. police

The Miami Herald reports the letter, an effort initiated by the city police department’s Domestic Violence Unit, is a way of stopping domestic violence acts that may occur in the future at the hands of designated “C list” violators. The city says it is simply targeting repeat domestic violence offenders with the intent to halt the cycle of repeat abuse. They call this approach “focused deterrence.”

There are many, though, who have been highly critical of this approach – including the Broward Public Defender’s Office, which called the tactic an abuse of power. Essentially, they say, the police are punishing and/ or harassing people for an offense that hasn’t yet occurred and may not ever occur.  Continue reading

Throngs of spring breakers and tourists start to flood Florida coasts beginning in March, with spring break hitting its peak around the middle of the month. However, those who came for a week may find they are dealing with our court system for much longer. beachparty

The Sun-Sentinel reported spring breakers kept local law enforcement agencies busy, with offenses ranging from slapping the rear quarter of a police horse and underage drinking.

Fort Lauderdale police issued a warning to both locals and visitors in advance of spring break, insisting there would be a “zero tolerance” policy of enforcing state laws and local ordinances. In many cases, that meant arresting spring breakers, who now may face the expensive possibility of having to return to Florida to face the music in court.  Continue reading

Florida state senators in the Criminal Justice Committee are weighing a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Sunshine State.marijuana

If passed, violators would receive a civil citation instead of facing arrest. Possession of less than one ounce would be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, for which the penalty would be a $100 fine.

Similar measure have been undertaken by local governments, including Broward County. In 2015, Broward County Commissioners gave law enforcement agencies the option of issuing a $150 citation to those who were caught for the first time with 20 grams or less of marijuana. Second-time offenders would have to pay $250 and third-time offenders would be charged $500. After three arrests for this same offense, it would be considered a crime. However, officers still have the choice to make an arrest, which is exactly what officers have opted to do in the majority of instances. Fort Lauderdale, however, opted out of that program. Continue reading

Over the last several decades, the American criminal justice system has relied increasingly on forensic testing to definitively identify suspects, nail down timelines and prove or disprove theories about what happened and who was involved. justice

However, there is an increasing amount of data showing that some of these methods are not as bullet-proof as they were previously held out by prosecutors and the scientific community to be. In 2015, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists at ProPublica detailed the great deal of faulty forensics that had been reported in previous years.

On one hand, the emergence of DNA analysis became a powerful prosectuorial tool – but also one that was valuable for defendants, resulting in the revelation of scores of wrongful convictions. Recently, the Washington Post reported on a substantial study by the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers that found 26 out of 28 examiners in the FBI’s forensic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in more than 200 criminal cases during the 1980s and 1990s. Continue reading

Florida House committee lawmakers have put the state one step closer to compelling more first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices. DUI

On the surface, this may seem like bad news for DUI offenders. After all, ignition interlock devices are expensive, cumbersome and embarrassing. However, there could be one major upside for first-time offenders if the bill is passed statewide in its current form.

According to News4Jax, the bill would revise and replace provisions of the current ignition interlock law, as addressed in F.S. 316.193 and F.S. 322.271 and F.S. 316.1937. Current law only makes it mandatory for a first-time DUI offender in Florida to have ignition interlock devices installed if his or her blood-alcohol concentration was at 0.15 percent or higher or if a minor was in the vehicle at the time of the offense. Beyond that, the devices are mandatory in cases where an individual has previous DUI convictions.  Continue reading

Florida’s death penalty has been the source of intense scrutiny over the last year. handcuffs

Last year, the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Hurst v. State struck down the prior capital sentencing statute allowing judges to impose the death penalty if a majority of jurors recommended death or to override a jury’s recommendation for a life sentence. Meanwhile, a separate decision in Perry v. State tossed an amended version of the statue, which gave judges the authority to impose the death penalty if 10 or more jurors recommended it. The state supreme court noted that it must be jurors who make that final decision and that determination must be unanimous, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Ring v. Arizona. Non-unanimous cases accounted for 20 percent of all Florida death sentences, and were disproportionately represented in exonerations of death row inmates. Also last year, the state legislature passed S.B. 280 which eliminated non-unanimous jury recommendations for the death penalty. That was signed and approved by the governor last month.

This brings us to the conflict regarding Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who has outright stated a refusal to seek the death penalty. The issue arose initially in a high-profile case in which Ayala asserted she did not plan to seek the death penalty for a man accused of killing a police officer. She further stated she did not plan to seek the death penalty for anyone else either. Scott subsequently removed her from the police killing case – and then also from 21 other first-degree murder cases.  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