Articles Posted in DUI

The U.S. Supreme court recently bolstered personal privacy protections for anyone who owns a cell phone. The court’s new 5-4 ruling also clarifies some important safeguards for anyone facing Florida criminal charges (or elsewhere). The justices said that law enforcement officers generally need a warrant before they can obtain and search records showing when and where calls take place.

Supreme Court“Although such records are generated for commercial purposes, that distinction does not negate [Defendant]’s anticipation of privacy in his physical location,” the court said in a majority opinion penned by Chief Justice John Roberts. “Mapping a cell phone’s location over the course of 127 days provides an all-encompassing record of the holder’s whereabouts.”

Defendant was charged with six counts of robbery and another six firearms offenses for his alleged role as the leader of a string of robberies. Prosecutors used cell tower records—showing Defendant’s whereabouts over the span of 127 days—to try to show that Defendant was in the area where the crimes happened when the crimes happened. A trial judge allowed the prosecutors to enter the cell tower data as evidence, and Defendant was later convicted. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision.

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A recent fatal DUI accident in North Florida is an unfortunate reminder of the risks that come with getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. The criminal conviction of a driver involved in the accident also shines a light on some of the legal issues related to proving impairment in cases in which a driver is allegedly under the influence of drugs. That’s because the science of toxicology hasn’t advanced to the point where experts can definitively say that a person was legally impaired at the time of a crash.

Squad CarDefendant was charged with driving under the influence causing death, driving under the influence causing serious personal injury and driving under the influence causing property damage, stemming from an accident in which a 13-year-old child was killed. On the day in question, Defendant was fresh off of a stint in county jail. He allegedly was involved in two accidents. First, Defendant allegedly sped off after hitting a vehicle. The driver of that vehicle chased after Defendant to get his license plate number. During the chase, Defendant purportedly ran a stop sign, hit a guardrail and then slammed into another car. The child was killed in the second collision.

Blood tests showed that Defendant was under the influence of amphetamine and methamphetamine at the time of the crash. Prosecutors at trial called a University of Florida College of Medicine toxicology professor as an expert witness. They wanted the professor to weigh in on whether Defendant was actually impaired at the time of the collision. Defendant’s attorney objected, however, arguing that the professor didn’t qualify as an expert. Specifically, the lawyer argued that the professor wouldn’t be able to determine based on the amount of the drugs in Defendant’s system and the circumstances of the accident whether Defendant was impaired.

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Getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated is a mistake that can have wide-ranging consequences. In addition to putting yourself and others at risk of an accident, you also face criminal prosecution for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A conviction can mean steep fines and even jail time. A person busted for DUI in Florida also may be looking at the loss of his or her driving privileges. State law provides for a five-year revocation of a person’s driver’s license if he or she is convicted of DUI twice within a five-year period. A recent case out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal shows just how seriously courts take that punishment.

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The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles initiated proceedings to revoke a defendant’s driver’s license after he was convicted of a second DUI. He was arrested twice in an eight-day span in October 2013 and pleaded guilty in both cases. He was convicted on both charges in November 2013. He later challenged the revocation of his license, arguing that a Florida law allowing for license revocation in the event of multiple DUI convictions didn’t apply to him.

The Florida law provides for license revocation in the event of “a second conviction for an offense that occurs within a period of 5 years after the date of a prior conviction for a violation.” Since the defendant was convicted for both DUIs during the same criminal proceeding on one, single day, he argued that his second conviction wasn’t “after” the date of the first conviction. A circuit court disagreed. The First District also sided with the FDHSMV.

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The decision to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one that can have lasting consequences, both for the driver and for anyone else on the road. A DUI conviction in Florida means the possibility of steep fines, the loss of driving privileges, and jail time. Since the stakes are high in these cases, the law offers a person charged with DUI a number of possible defenses. That includes the rule against double jeopardy, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently explained. The rule essentially states that a person can’t be convicted of the same crime twice.

banged up carA defendant was allegedly driving under the influence of illegal substances when she was involved in a car crash. She rear-ended another car, according to the court, causing serious injuries to two people in the other vehicles. She was charged with driving under the influence with serious bodily injury and driving while license suspended with serious bodily injury. She eventually pleaded guilty to all four offenses, each of which is a third-degree felony. She was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The defendant later appealed the convictions, arguing that the trial judge violated the rule against double jeopardy. She said both the DUI and DWLS charges were based on the same injuries and therefore could not be charged twice.

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