Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Driving While Under the Influence – Impaired Definition Coming Soon, Maybe

A frustrating issue defending those accused of Driving Under the Influence or DUI, has been the lack of a definition of the word “impaired” in the standard jury instructions. Without a breath, blood or urine result or sample the State of Florida must prove that the person is “impaired” in order to convict a person of DUI.  This is especially true if the accused is DUI by drugs or prescriptions. However, the Florida Supreme Court in issuing jury instructions has sought fit to leave the word “impaired” undefined. 

It is still not illegal to drink and drive, note all of the parking lots in front of bars and clubs. What is illegal is to drive with a reading over a .08 or while impaired. A case from 2001 defined “impaired” as a worsening or diminishment in some material respect. However, not all judges would adopt this ruling and insert that definition into their jury instructions. The result was that juries have been instructed differently within the same courthouse. The fact that all juries determining a DUI are not instructed the same could be perceived as unfair or unjust.

Fortunately, the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases has finally submitted a proposal to amend the DUI Instructions to include a definition of “impaired” as meaning “worsened or diminished in some material respect”. Hopefully, this will be adopted and we can avoid arguments such as a person is impaired the moment alcohol passes their lips. Adopting the definition would make criminal DUI trials more fair to all involved.

To learn more about defending your DUI, to hire a lawyer to fight the State and take your DUI to trial call, click or fill out the form to the right.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Roadblocks or Roadside Safety Checkpoints

Roadblocks or “Roadside Safety Checkpoints” as they are referred to by law enforcement are legal only if the police follow the rules. Yes, the Constitution does still apply as do the laws of the State of Florida, even though it certainly does not feel like it or a particular law enforcement officer’s god complex has raised its ugly head. In order to be legal, they have to have followed several steps including publishing an operational plan, communicating the plan and then actually complying with the operational plan. 

The inspiration for this blog was that the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) announced that it will set up a roadblock or checkpoint along with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), University of Florida Police Department (UFPD), High Springs Police Department (HSPD) and City of Alachua’s Police Department (APD) on Friday, June 26th, 2015, at 3200 SW Archer Road in the westbound lanes between 9:00 PM and 3:00 AM.

According to GPD’s announcement, they are looking for people who are driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages and those driving without a valid driver’s license. They claimed that “[d]rivers who are able to provide a valid driver’s license upon first contact will be allowed through the checkpoint without any further delay. Suspected impaired drivers will not be allowed to leave the checkpoint unless a lawful level of sobriety is confirmed.” This implies that they will be running the driver license through the police database and removing anyone who smells like alcohol or drugs in order to do a DUI investigation.  They will surely also find marijuana and people impaired by other drugs such as prescriptions.

I have never heard of a person with an active warrant being allowed to leave a roadblock/checkpoint. Surely, if a warrant is detected, that person will be arrested. Likewise, several people will be cited for driving without a license, no valid license, failure to display, driving with a suspended license, driving outside restrictions, and other civil and criminal traffic violations.

If you or a loved one is caught up in this or any other roadblock/checkpoint click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer today. The firm represents people in all criminal and traffic violations.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

GPD’s announcement

DUI by Prescription

A person can be convicted of DUI by prescription drugs. Some people do not realize that until it is too late. If you are reading this blog, then likely you or someone you know discovered the hard way that you can be arrested for DUI if impaired by any one of a long list of prescription drugs. In Florida, DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence”. The influence can be of alcohol or drugs that are illegal narcotics or prescriptions. A DUI can be a felony in Florida.

To prove impairment, the State will have to show that a person’s normal faculties were affected to the point that they could not perform normal tasks such as walking, talking etc. For example, the video of the person arrested for DUI might show that they can barely stand or talk. In addition, the officer’s testimony or their opinion will be used as evidence to prove a DUI.

If a police officer has a reason to believe that a person is impaired by drugs instead of alcohol, then in some circumstances, the law permits that they request a urine sample. If the request for a urine sample is lawful and the opportunity to provide a urine sample is refused, then your license can be suspended for a refusal to submit to testing. Urine test results can be challenged in court if you have assembled the right legal team. This will usually require an expert to educate the jury on the failings of the type of test the State of Florida performs on the urine sample.

Several drugs can be found in drivers and lead to a charge of DUI by drugs or prescriptions. Drugs listed are marijuana or cannabis, cocaine, alprazolam (Xanax), oxycodone (Percocet) or some other form of oxy, hydrocodone, morphine or other opiate, mescaline etc, the list is contained in Florida Statutes section 893.03 and contains literally hundreds of prescription drugs and illegal drugs or narcotics.

It is important to only take prescription drugs as prescribed and to follow all the traffic laws. The best way to avoid a DUI is to not be arrested in the first place. However, if you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI by drugs or alcohol, then there are defenses that can be raised. The case is not lost just because a listed chemical was found in the urine or blood. Please click, call or fill out the form to the right for a consultation and to hire me in your DUI. 

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Columbia County Traffic Tickets

The firm represents individuals who have received traffic tickets or criminal accusations in Columbia County, Florida, located in North Florida. Several people receiving citations in Columbia County are from out of state.  This is because Interstate 75 and Interstate 10, both heavily traveled by tourists and visitors to Florida, intersect just north of Lake City in Columbia County. The Florida Highway Patrol or FHP monitors traffic along both I-75 and I-10 corridors. 

Many people accused of speeding through Columbia County will argue that “there is no way the trooper got me on radar or laser based upon where the trooper was located”. Usually the trooper is hiding in the trees on the side of the highway. However, the FHP in Columbia County uses airplanes to monitor traffic. In Columbia County, it is likely the speed was measured from the air rather than the ground. A trooper in an airplane uses a stop watch to time drivers instead of a radar or laser. Just like any other speed measuring device, the stopwatch must be properly maintained and calibrated with proper documentation in order for the results to be entered into evidence.

White lines have been painted across the highway. A driver’s travel time across the lines is used to calculate the speed. If a car is speeding, a trooper on the highway is called by the troopers in the plane and told which vehicle to stop. The driver is identified and issued a speeding ticket. To prove the citation in court both the trooper who timed the vehicle and the trooper who initiated the traffic stop and identified the driver have to appear in court.

There are defenses that can be raised to defeat a traffic ticket. If you were issued an infraction in Columbia County, or any other county in North Florida, and would like to hire an attorney to represent you in traffic court, then please click, call or fill out the form to the right.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529