Articles Posted in DUI – Driving Under the Influence

Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent was convicted earlier this week of intoxication manslaughter with the victim being one of his teammates, 25 year old Jerry Brown. Now, under Texas law, he faces up to twenty years in prison. The facts presented at trial stated that Brent left a club, flipped his Mercedes at 110 mph, killing Brown, and had a blood alcohol level of .189 which is more than twice the legal limit under Texas Law. According to Reuters, Brent had a previous DUI arrest in 2009 during his college football years at the University of Illinois. Brent also tested positive for drugs while out of jail on bond previous to his trial
DUI Manslaughter under Florida Law

DUI manslaughter in Florida is a second degree felony with a maximum punishment of 15 years. A defendant, with no prior criminal history whatsoever, still scores, under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, just over 12 years in the state prison system. Florida Law also mandates that the first four years served are served as a “minimum mandatory” which means the convicted driver would earn no gain time on the initial four years as those years would be done “day for day.” Typically, without the minimum mandatory, Florida inmates will do 85% of their sentence. A person in this position is immediately facing 12 years out of a maximum of 15 years. If the driver seriously injures another that is a 3rd degree Felony where the score is 51 months out of a possible 60 months.

To convict the State Attorney has to prove:

the driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle
the driver’s blood alcohol level was over .08 or, the driver was on drugs to the extent that her normal faculties were impaired and, by operating the vehicle while impaired, caused or contributed to the death of another
Additionally, if a death has resulted or is probable, these cases usually involve “blood draw” of the accused instead of the customary breath test performed at the jail. The investigating officer produces a blood draw kit and blood is drawn. This is usually done at the hospital but can be done at the crime scene by paramedics. Blood draw results take months. If the the results come back over a .08 the driver will be arrested at that time, 3-4 months later, on a warrant.

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Earlier this month, First Coast News meteorologist, Tim Deegan, was stopped by police when he allegedly ran a stop sign. According to a report by the local NBC affiliate, upon stopping Deegan, the officer on the scene conducted a breath alcohol test at some point and discovered that Deegan was driving under the influence of alcohol.

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Last week, Deegan entered a “no contest” plea with the court. As a result, Deegan will not go to trail, and will be on probation for one year. In addition, he will have his driver’s license suspended for six months, will be required to complete 50 hours of community service, and will also be required to complete “DUI school.” In addition, Deegann must pay court costs of nearly $1,100.

“No Contest” pleas in Florida Criminal Courts

In the Florida criminal justice system, a no contest plea is not quite a guilty plea but has a similar effect. In essence, a defendant who enters a no contest plea is telling the court “while I am not admitting to committing the offense, I admit that the State has enough evidence to prove that I committed the offense.” The distinction, while slight, is important in a number of ways. To find out more on the distinctions between guilty and no contest pleas, contact an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.

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Last month, a Hollywood police officer was arrested by his own department when he was found to be intoxicated after getting into an accident with another vehicle. According to a report by the Sun Sentinel, the officer was driving south in the northbound lane of North 22nd Avenue at around 1:30 am when he collided with another vehicle.

scotch-838534-m.jpgThe driver of the other car told police that the officer did not stop after colliding with her, but continued on down the road. The officer came to a stop about a half mile down the road, with a flat tire and significant front-end damage. Currently, the officer is on administrative leave while the accident is under investigation.

Driving Under the Influence in Florida

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Florida. The law is clear that no driver may operate a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of more than .08. In the case of minors, there is a “zero-tolerance policy”, meaning that operating a car with any trace amount of alcohol over .02 BAC is considered in violation of the law.

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One of the most common machines used by police to determine whether a driver is intoxicated, the Intoxilyzer 8000, has recently drawn controversy for its unreliability. The device, which has been determined to be unreliable in other states, measures blood alcohol content (BAC) by using infrared light. A driver is instructed to blow into the machine, where the driver’s breath enters a chamber full of infrared rays. The infrared rays, which absorb alcohol, are measured before and after they come into contact with the driver’s breath. Using these values, police are able to estimate what percentage of a driver’s breath is composed of alcohol, or, in other words, the driver’s BAC.

another-beer-1156122-m.jpgAccording to a report by FloridaToday.com, a group of criminal defense attorneys challenged the reliability of the Intoxilyzer 8000, claiming that it was not as accurate as it purported to be. Although the Intoxilyzer 8000 is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, because so many convictions rest on the device’s accuracy, Florida courts take allegations of inaccuracy seriously.

The device was recently put through a series of rigorous tests here in Florida last month. The results of the tests are pending. In the mean time, the Intoxilyzer 8000’s reliability will be argued on a case-by-case basis in front of Florida juries.

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Oklahoma Judge Mike Norman is defending his decision to require 17-year-old Tyler Alred to attend church for 10 years as part of a deferred prison sentence for manslaughter in a fatal car crash. The Judge told ABC News this was not the first occurrence of such a requirement under his service. “The Lord works in many ways,” Norman said. “I’ve done a little bit of this kind of thing before, but never on such a serious charge.”
Norman sentenced Alred after his guilty plea in the August crash that killed a passenger in Alred’s car. Police say Alred had been drinking before the accident. Norman also required Alred to finish high school and complete welding school. The defense and the victim’s family both supported the requirement and an appeal is unlikely. imageslwc.jpg

In Florida, there are many forms of alternative sentencing possibilities for offenders, including drug court, diversion programs and other sentencing measures that involve little or no incarceration time. Particularly for juvenile offenders, there are many alternatives to jail time that can allow the juvenile to move on without the scars of a prison sentence.

In Florida, a “youthful offender” (YO) is any juvenile who is sentenced as such by the court or is classified as such by the Department of Corrections. There are two ways by which a defendant can become entitled to the benefits of the YO statute:

– the trial court can sentence the defendant as a YO, or
– the Department of Corrections can designate a defendant who was sentenced as an adult to be a YO.
One may be sentenced as a Youthful offender if:
– One is 18 years of age or one has been transferred for prosecution to the criminal division of the circuit court.
– One is found guilty, one pleas guilty, or pleas nolo contendere (no contest), to a crime that is a felony if one is younger than 21 years of age at the time sentence is imposed; and
– One has not previously been classified as a youthful offender; however, a person who has been found guilty of a capital or life felony may not be sentenced as a YO under the Youthful Offender Act.

Typically, when one is classified as a YO and is sentenced, the court may place one under supervision on probation or in a community control program, with or without an adjudication of guilt, under such conditions as the court may lawfully impose for up to six years. This period of time cannot exceed the time of the sentence for which one was found guilty.

Adolescents are involved in accidents like Alred was every day. Not every one of those individuals were intending to hurt anyone and are just teenagers making bad decisions. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville juvenile crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected.

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Jacksonville’s citizens make mistakes at times and the legal system is aware that people are not perfect. Sometimes though, people continually make the same mistakes over and over again. A person in this situation will be looked at by the court as hopeless. However, if one in a situation like this obtains an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case, one will have the best defense possible so that one may attempt to fix one’s problems and rise to a better future.

According to The North West Florida Daily News, David Mark Mosher of Santa Rosa Beach has been arrested for a carless driving and a DUI after hitting a Crestview Police Department vehicle. The Florida Highway Patrol said the police officer had parked his vehicle on the inside lane of State Road 85 just north of State Road 20. The vehicle had its lights flashing and was unoccupied while the officer worked a traffic crash. Mosher was taken to the hospital and was later released and arrested for driving under the influence. crestview-police.jpg

Jacksonville DUI cases typically involve someone who has had a little bit too much to drink. This does not mean that the person is intentionally trying to hurt others on the road. However, the police and prosecutors will attempt to paint a picture of just that: a person who has no concern for himself and others. Unfortunately for the accused, most attorneys do not dig deep enough to understand what is going on in the mind of the defendant, especially the mind of defendant with possible substance abuse issues.

Some people convicted of DUIs are sentenced to DUI probation, an alternative to serving prison time. A common misconception regarding DUI probation is that one has a right to a DUI probation; on the contrary, one does not. Whether a court grants one a DUI probation sentence is solely the court’s decision. If granted DUI probation, there will be various conditions to associated with the probation.

DUI probation conditions may include
– wearing an alcohol-monitoring device;
– submitting to random sobriety tests;
– limiting driving privileges;
– paying court costs or fees as ordered;
– avoiding any major moving violations or criminal violations;
– attending alcohol counseling; and/or
– submitting to alcohol evaluations.

One’s future may be at risk when one is charged with a DUI. One needs a knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville DUI lawyer to fight for their case. Do not allow your life to be ruined by a DUI charge. Defend yourself.

Nobody plans to get a DUI. Most people are just trying to get home. The best advice any lawyer can give is to not drive after you have consumed any alcohol. Find another way to get home or stay off the roads. One’s best advice is to never drive when one has consumed alcohol.

In this case, it is easy to see Mosher is an irresponsible driver, as he was charged with careless driving on top of a normal DUI charge, as well as hitting a parked police vehicle with its emergency lights on. However, Mosher most likely did not mean to hurt anyone. With the help of an experienced attorney, Mosher could plead with the court for a sentence that would have allowed him to go through driving school, go through an alcohol rehabilitation program, or court-appointed therapy. These options might allow him to be able to move on with his life as a new individual, rather than spending a long period in jail.

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Florida-Georgia is the classic example of a good time at a football game. Unfortunately, Jacksonville DUI cases are sure to follow this packed game. One facing a DUI case should have an experienced Jacksonville Criminal defense lawyer to represent, defend, and ensure their rights are protected.

The Georgia State Patrol and the Florida Highway Patrol are once again teaming up to remind game-day fans to make sure they have a sober driver when UGA plays the Florida Gators in Jacksonville on Oct. 27. Their message can be seen on social media sites, as well on television during the game. The Georgia-Florida police have suggested that if one is going to drink, to use a designated sober driver. The police will not hesitate to pull over someone who appears to be impaired.imagesflga.jpg

Sobriety checkpoints in Jacksonville involve law enforcement officials stopping every vehicle or every other vehicle on majorly traveled highways or other public roadways and investigating the possibility that the driver might be too intoxicated to drive. The police often set up these checkpoints late at night or in the very early morning hours and on weekends, at which time the number of impaired drivers tends to be the most. Checkpoints are also often set near the exit points of public locations where alcohol is consumed, to prevent large numbers of drunk drivers from being released into traffic simultaneously from the location.

With a mobile breath test, the police can test the drivers quickly and process the cars one by one as in a conveyor belt. Upon suspicion, the stopped driver may be required to exit the vehicle and take a roadside sobriety test that requires the demonstration of both mental and balance skills.

These tests and exercises are supposedly designed to test “divided attention”, a critical skill in operating a motor vehicle. However, there are many people who, for many different reasons, cannot perform these tests to the officer’s satisfaction, and pay the price with a DUI arrest.

Furthermore, to limit the intrusion to the public, Florida Courts have found that law enforcement must abide by written guidelines that limit the discretion of the officers in the field to prevent arbitrary enforcement. Where a DUI Roadblock plan allowed the supervising deputy discretion to “adjust” the written guidelines while conducting the checkpoint, the Court found that stops related to that plan were unconstitutional.

Nobody plans to get a DUI. Most people are just trying to get home. The best advice any lawyer can give is to not drive after you have consumed any alcohol. Find another way to get home or stay off the roads. One’s best advice is to never drive when one has consumed alcohol.

The only logical choice in this situation is to fight. One needs a knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville DUI defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected. Do not allow a DUI charge to ruin a bright future, away from the troubles of the legal system.

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Many times, citizens commit crimes out of foolishness, and learn their lesson via probation. However, those actively on probation, as well as former probationers are often times accused of violations of probations because of simple, sometimes harmless errors in judgment. If one has been arrested for a probation violation, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

According to ESPN, Trevor Mbakwe was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Mbakwe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation and community service. Mbakwe is still on probation in Florida, the remnants of a plea agreement forged after a felony assault charge from 2009. Mbakwe had originally been sentenced to work through a pre-trial diversion program, but was bounced from the program in January 2011, when an ex-girlfriend reported a Facebook message Mbakwe posted on her wall, violating a restraining order. imagesbballdui.jpg

Some defendants who are arrested for their first DUI in Jacksonville are able to get into a program known as Pre-trial Intervention (PTI). The PTI program is administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections (DOC). Eligible individuals who enter into a PTI agreement will be required to participate in a supervised program similar to probation, except at the end of the intervention term, if all conditions are successfully completed, the felony charge will be dismissed.

Typical conditions of PTI supervision require monthly reporting, payment of supervision fees, community service and appropriate counseling or treatment if deemed necessary after an evaluation. PTI agreements can be fit to the needs of particular defendants depending on the nature of the charge. The PTI program provides eligible defendants charged with a crime the opportunity to be diverted from traditional criminal sentencing alternatives and the ability to avoid a criminal conviction record and the likelihood of some form of incarceration.

Some jurisdictions require signed contracts for PTI, while others require an admission of guilt, calling the contract a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement.” As a general rule, PTI is one of the best and most sought after arrangements by defense attorneys, and is available to only a very small percentage of defendants. Some clients refuse PTI; at that point, the State Attorney’s Office will file the case, deeming the client as a “PTI-Reject.”
There are many benefits to entering a PTI agreement, including:

– Reducing the likelihood for those who successfully complete PTI to be repeat offenders
– Avoiding potential criminal charges
– Avoiding a potential permanent criminal record
– Receiving counseling or psychological treatment
– Having one’s criminal record of arrest expunged, if eligible
– Avoiding the stress and cost of a criminal trial
Even if one is not eligible for the Pretrial Intervention Program, with the help of an experienced Jacksonville probation violations defense attorney, one could persuade the Judge to render a much lighter punishment that would involve counseling, house arrest or a slightly longer probation, rather than just incarceration.

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Jacksonville is filled with citizens who love to have a good time and consume alcohol legally. However, some choose to get behind the wheel of a car and drive impaired. Others become victims of a subjective test that may not be correct, leaving one in handcuffs. If one has been arrested for a DUI, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

According to Florida-Today, Lawyers at Eisenmenger, Berry & Peters in Viera, Florida filed a petition with Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings this week, challenging the use of the Intoxilyzer 8000 as a breath-testing device in impaired-driving prosecutions. The firm alleges a conscious and deliberate effort by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to withhold information about failures by the Intoxilyzer 8000 during its initial approval testing in 2002, according to a written statement from the firm. imagesintoxylizer8000.jpg

Jacksonville’s DUI cases vary in situation, but all have a common element: An officer is planning on using evidence obtained from a test, procedure or exercise to determine if one is driving impaired, and whether the officer will take one to jail. However, that evidence obtained may not be accurate, leaving room for doubt whether there was an illegal action at all.

There are many tests, procedures, and exercises that police officers may use for determining whether one is intoxicated. However, methods such as blood sample analysis, breath test machines, or field sobriety exercises are subject to much more human involvement, leaving the door open for possible tampering, tainting, or destruction of evidence.

Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog has been following the rising challenges to the Intoxilyzer 8000. The major concern defense attorneys have had with the machines is the machines were giving vastly inaccurate results, and the errors were never reported. According to the firm in this particular case, when the device was initially approved, it failed three or four critical tests. However, FDLE went ahead and secured approval to use the device without notifying the public or state government officials of the test results.

Under the principles of administrative law, the police and other officers of the state must follow proper procedure in approval and use of any items, methods, practices, or policies that effect that agency. If that particular item up for approval does not abide with the minimum standards set by the agency governing, then the item must not be adopted into practice.

One of the major problems with the machine is the flow sensor, which does not accurately read how much air the user is blowing into the device, as well as a smoke problem that arose from the machine. Smoke and other factors that might cause error in the test causes the evidence obtained from that test to be unfairly prejudicial.

If an administrative law judge says FDLE did not follow the law in approving the machine, an experienced attorney would be able to file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the machine, making it very difficult for any judge in the trial courts across the state to admit those results.

Nobody plans to get a DUI. Most people are just trying to get home. The best advice any lawyer can give is to not drive after you have consumed any alcohol. Find another way to get home or stay off the roads. One’s best advice is to never drive when one has consumed alcohol.

The only logical choice in this situation is to fight. One needs a knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville DUI defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected. Do not allow a DUI charge to ruin a bright future, away from the troubles of the legal system.

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Many of Jacksonville’s citizens face challenges every day in their lives, from work struggles to family crises. However, one does not need to undergo the struggle of facing a DUI charge, or the struggle one might face in fighting a test that is inherently inaccurate. If one has been arrested for a DUI, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

According to Fox 13 News Tampa Bay, attorneys in Hillsborough County are questioning the validity of a commonly used breath-alcohol testing machine that has been used by law enforcement for years, but is now in the legal hot seat. The machine is called the Intoxilyzer 8000. The major claim is that the breathalyzer’s “flow sensors” are producing impossible results. imagesbreathmachine.jpg

Many DUI crimes in Jacksonville involve an officer attempting to administer an exercise or test to determine whether one has been driving impaired. For many years, the use of breath tests that attempt to read one’s blood alcohol level, where assumed to be accurate and have been used to convict many of Jacksonville’s citizens. However, the invalidity of these tests may offer a greater defense to a DUI charge.

According to article, the Hillsborough County attorneys questioning the machine, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which oversees the breathalyzer machines, knew there was a problem for years, but failed to properly use the process already in place to test the machines or do anything about reporting error in the machines.

Laura Barfield with the FDLE spoke to the contrary, testifying in court that the machines are accurate. She says if the “flow sensor” does not accurately calibrate how much air a driver blows into the machine, the machine rejects the results. State records show the flawed breath machines stayed in the system for years, unquestioned.

Florida State rules governing how the machine is properly tested do not require inspectors to test the flow sensor; however, attorneys are working to change the process so that the flow sensor does become part of the list of parts to be inspected on the machine. The DUI breath machines were also challenged in Sarasota, but that challenge was struck down by a panel of judges.

Nobody plans to get a DUI. Most people are just trying to get home. The best advice any lawyer can give is to not drive after you have consumed any alcohol. Find another way to get home or stay off the roads. One’s best advice is to never drive when one has consumed alcohol.

The only logical choice in this situation is to fight. One needs a knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville DUI defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected. Do not allow a DUI charge to ruin a bright future, away from the troubles of the legal system.

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