| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Underage Drinking: Understanding Florida’s MIP Laws

While it may seem fun, underage drinking is never a good idea. This is particularly true when you consider that the Florida laws that deal with underage drinking have become increasingly stringent over the years. Punishment for underage drinking can impact more people than just the intoxicated teen. There can be legal consequences for any minor who transports or  possesses alcohol. There are also legal consequences for anyone who provides alcohol to minors. Simply selling or serving alcohol to minors may result in serious legal consequences. If your teen has been charged with underaged drinking or if you have been accused or providing alcohol to minors, this article will help you understand Florida’s underage drinking laws. Defining Minor in Possession of Alcohol Florida’s Minor in Possession of Alcohol laws establish 21 as the legal drinking age and it illegal for minors to drink, transport or sell alcohol. Anyone under 21-years-old found in possession of alcohol, including liquor, wine, beer and mixed drinks, could face criminal minor in possession of alcohol charges. Teenagers do not have to be caught holding an alcoholic drink to be charged with this offense. A minor can be accused of minor in possession if the beverage is within their reach or under their control. The Consequences of Underage Drinking Under Florida law, the possession of alcoholic beverages by minors is a generally a second-degree misdemeanor. Teens convicted of this crime may face serious penalties which include: First Offense: a second degree misdemeanor, $500 fine and serve up to 60 days in jail.   Second Offense: a first degree misdemeanor, $1,000 fine and serve up to one year in jail. Additionally, the court may direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to deny, revoke or suspend a teen’s driver’s license and driving privileges. Similar to charges related to underage drinking, the length of time a minor’s driving license is suspended increases if a minor is a repeat offender: First Offense: license suspended for six months to one year. Following Offenses: license suspended for up to two years.   MIP Laws Make it Illegal to Provide Minors with Alcohol It is also illegal for any adult to provide alcohol to minors. Anyone who sells or supplies alcohol to minors will be held legally responsible for any injury or harm caused by the minor. This law means that adults who allow teens to drink at their home, bar, or restaurant may face stiff legal repercussions for giving teens alcohol. You may face second degree misdemeanor charges and penalties which include fines up to $500 or up to 60 days in jail. Seek Help From an Attorney If you have been charged as a minor in possession of alcohol or any crime related to underage drinking, you should contact Moses & Rooth. We understand the complexity of Florida’s MIP laws and can help guide you and your teen through the process. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Charges Filed in Explosive Uber Accident

Prosecutors allege that a college student was speeding and drunk by twice the legal limit when he collided with an Uber driver, killing a passenger in Southwest Miami Dade. The accident captured the city’s attention after the victim’s family filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant and Uber. Last month, the victim and friends called an Uber after a night out. The driver picked up the passengers in a black GMC Yukon. Just before 5 a.m., the driver was turning left at a flashing yellow light when the defendant’s car sped straight through the intersection. The defendant’s car hit the SUV. The SUV flipped, struck a concrete wall, and bursts into flames. The state alleges that the defendant was going 70 mph in a 35 mph zone and that his blood level was at .155, well above the legal limit of .08, two hours after the accident. Responsibility for the crash will be hashed out in court as prosecutors insist the driver had the right of way. The defendant faces DUI manslaughter charges and was released after paying a $30,000 bond. The details of this accident have captured our attention. Most likely because you count on a safe trip when hiring a vehicle like the Uber service.  DUI manslaughter charges are a serious crime under Florida law. This means that when a person driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance causes an accident and someone dies, he or she may face a DUI Manslaughter charge. DUI Manslaughter is a felony offense, punishable with a mandatory minimum four-year prison sentence. While the four-year sentence is minimum and mandatory, the average sentence varies across Florida. Statewide, the average prison sentence is just below ten years and Miami-Dade has an average sentence of just over six years. Other Crash Related Charges While the trial in the example above is still pending, it is always possible that a driver who causes an accident that results in death might face other crash related charges. These charges are serious and carry heavy penalties: Vehicular Homicide: Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony. The punishment includes up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000,00 fine. If a driver leaves the scene (think about your typical hit and run) then prosecutors may enhance the charge to a first-degree felony punishable by 30 years in prison. Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Death:  This is a first degree felony which is punishable by 30 years in prison.  It also has a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison. Learn more about leaving the scene of an accident. Let an Attorney Help Not every fatality that occurs on the roadway should result in a DUI manslaughter charge. However, the right attorney will understand the nuances of charges that result from car accidents and can advocate for the best results possible. If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, let Moses & Rooth help you. We can go over the facts of your case and ensure you have the best defense possible. Contact us today at 407-377-0150, to schedule an appointment.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Criminal Defense

Supreme Court Taking Shot at DUI Law

The Supreme Court is taking another “shot” at the DUI laws and the drunk-driving test.  They will be examining three separate cases that will be argued together at a one hour hearing.  The issues presented in this case are defendants declining to take the tests.  In this case they are a blood test, a breath test, and finally a person who refused sobriety tests and then was taken to a hospital against his wishes. In Florida, if you have previously had your license suspended for refusing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test and subsequently refuse a breath, blood, or urine test you may be convicted of a separate crime.  It appears that the United State Supreme Court is going to examine the constitutionality of this crime and the refusal in general. This examination of the refusal law is something of a follow up to a previous ruling in Missouri v. McNeely that “the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.”   This could have a very serious impact on Florida’s refusal law and how it is treated by a substantive driving under the influence charge as well as a substantive refusal charge. Image credit m01229 at Flickr

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Golf Cart DUIs in Florida

As golf communities become more and more popular throughout Florida, the number of golf carts on the road continues to increase. Outside of Orlando in the Villages, a man was arrested and charged with a DUI after residents found him drunk and parked in their driveway. When the officers attempted to give him a field sobriety test, he announced that he could not do it. This is not the first time that this golf community has had people driving a golf cart under the influence. Thus, it is important that a person charged with a DUI while driving a golf cart is provided the same constitutional rights that a person driving a normal car would be provided. Driving a Golf Cart Under the Influence Under Florida law, a DUI is a criminal offense that a person can be charged with if the person is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving or in physical control of a vehicle. Since the statute does not say car or truck, the broad use of vehicles, it has been found that it could mean a golf cart. A person will be charged with a DUI if he or she has a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. Due to the harsh penalties that exist in the State of Florida for DUIs, it is important to present a solid defense to the court. DUI Penalties A person who is convicted of a DUI in the State of Florida for the first time will have to pay a fine of between $500 and $1,000. The fine will increase to $1,000 to $2,000 for a second conviction. In addition, a person could be sent to prison for no more than six months for the first conviction and no more than nine months for the second conviction. When a person is convicted for the second time, they are not only subjected to more jail time and a greater fine, but also are required to have an ignition interlock device installed within their car for at least one year. The person will have to pay the fees associated with having the device installed as well as the maintenance. If the person owns more than one vehicle, then the person will have to have the device installed on each vehicle. Since a golf cart is viewed as a vehicle, the interlock device would also need to be installed on the person’s cart as well. Once a person is convicted of a DUI for the third time, this becomes a felony charge. The punishments become more and more severe as the number of DUI’s increase. Contact an Orlando DUI Lawyer If you have been charged with a DUI while driving a golf cart, you are entitled to constitutional protections. Our attorneys at Moses & Rooth are available to discuss the facts of your case and determine an aggressive defense strategy to ensure that your rights are protected. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm at any time at 407-377-0150 for your free consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Drinking & Driving: Understanding Your First Conviction

You were only “buzzed”. You only had to drive two miles. You were late for your curfew. No matter what you say to justify it, the end result is the same. You drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You made a mistake. You risked your life, your passenger’s life, and the lives of those around you. Many people who get DUIs have never been convicted of a crime and hopefully never will be again. Understanding what your options are and what the possible consequences you may be facing is the first step in putting this mistake behind you and moving on with your life. Florida Drunk Driving: First Time Forgiveness Fines, probation, jail time, job loss, loss of driving privileges, and mandatory reporting are a few of the concerns that immediately come to mind when a person is charged with drunk driving. Florida law very clearly lays out the minimum penalties for DUI, from first offenders to those that are eventually charged with multiple DUI or have other previous crimes on their record. A first time offender, if ultimately charged, will face: A fine of at least $500 if the blood alcohol content (BAC) was less than .15% or if no minor was present in the vehicle Community service or fines Probation No more than six months in jail; nine if BAC more than .15% or there was a minor in the vehicle Impoundment of vehicle; additional fines if property was damaged; and other possible punishments if individuals were injured or killed Many of these punishments have upper and lower limits—that is fines must be “at least” a certain amount but “not more than” a higher amount; these ranges are determined by the sentencing judge and will be decided at the time of conviction. Some individuals charged with DUI offenses may be eligible for diversion programs.* Upon successful completion of these programs, the charges may be dismissed and the offender may be given a clean slate. These programs are, however, offered only to first time offenders, and there are many circumstances that may affect an offender’s eligibility. Orlando, Florida DUI Lawyers Florida law recognizes that people make mistakes. There is no reason that one mistake needs to have a lasting impact on the duration of your life. If you are serious about making up for your wrongdoing by fulfilling the terms of a probationary sentence and possibly completing a diversion program, our experienced driving under the influence criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth are here to help. Not only will we advocate for leniency, but we will do everything in our power to try to avoid a DUI charge becoming a part of your criminal history. We will explore all possible options and find the best possible solution for your unique situation. If you or anyone you know has been convicted of a drunk driving offense, whether it be your first or your third, contact our Orlando office to learn more about your options at this difficult time. Did you know? Florida allows for mistakes with first time offenders? Read more on our blog about Allowing for Mistakes: First Time Offenders in Florida  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

CDC Calls Prescription Drug Use An Epidemic

Prescription Drugged Driving in Florida Prescription drug abuse is on the rise to the point that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention classified it as an epidemic. Even for prescription drug users that take their medications as prescribed, medication use does not mix well with driving. A person can be charged with driving under the influence even when taking drugs they are lawfully permitted to take, or when they have taken even comparatively small quantities. “Drugged driving” was attributed as the cause of 298 car crashes in Florida thus far in 2015. The Law It is unlawful to take medications that are not prescribed to you. It is also unlawful to drive on public roadways when you are under the influence of anything that may affect your perception, reflexes, focus, ability to pay attention, or anything that alters your state of mind. This can include medications that are prescribed to you; these bottles have warnings for a reason. A first drugged driving conviction in Florida can land a person between $500-$1000 in fines and a jail sentence of up to six months. Second offenses come with higher associated fines and up to nine months in jail. A third drugged DUI is punishable by 12 months jail and a $2,000 fine. Subsequent drugged driving offenses committed within a certain time frame will put a felony on the offender’s record, further increasing both the fine and jail time. After the first offense, the offender is no longer eligible for diversion programs. Differences in Convicting for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Charges Unlike alcohol, which can be readily tested by breathalyzers in the field, drugs are more difficult to detect. This fact makes drugged driving cases much more difficult for prosecutors to successfully bring in a court of law. Blood and Urine tests are often used to determine the presence of drugs in the system. Although field sobriety tests can be used to monitor state of mind, the chemical presence of drugs can be difficult for officers to ascertain. A more experienced DUI officer may be certified as a Drug recognition expert (DRE) which allows him to testify as to the results from a test to help determine if under the influence of drugs.  This test used is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. Drugs and alcohol differ in how they are processed in the body; a positive drug test through urine analysis does not alone definitively prove that a person was under the influence of drugs at the time they were taken into custody. Moreover, police officers have very specific rules they must follow when administering field sobriety tests; even a small deviation from protocol may work in your favor in court. Orlando Prescription Drug DUI Defense Attorneys If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys on your side.  All of our attorneys at Moses & Rooth are former prosecutors that know how to navigate these kinds of cases and ensure the police treated you fairly when you were arrested. We know the common weaknesses in prosecutor’s cases in drugged and drunk driving matters and will work hard on your behalf to ensure the most favorable outcome possible given your set of circumstances. If you or anyone you know has questions about your rights when you are pulled over or if you have been charged with a drugged or drunk driving offense in Florida, contact our Orlando office today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Lesser Known Driving Under the Influence Penalties in Florida

If you have been pulled over for drinking and driving, you know how terrifying it is. You have horrible things going through your mind, and you’re worried about your future. What will your friends and family think? Will you have a conviction on your record? Will you lose your job? The long-term consequences of a drinking and driving conviction can be really detrimental. Still, a conviction is not the only thing you should be concerned about after a drinking and driving offense. Among other things, your license may be revoked, and you may face serious consequences if you have multiple convictions. Understanding your options and legal rights after a driving under the influence arrest is critical to your future. Florida Drinking and Driving Offenses Drinking and driving offenses have serious penalties associated with them in Florida that escalate the more times you are convicted of the offense. A first-time offender will be sentenced to a fine between $500-$1,000, and a prison term of no more than six months. These punishments are also increased substantially when bodily injury to another or property damage occurs as the result of an accident. If serious injury or death occurs, felony charges may be brought against the offender. Other charges frequently associated with drunk driving offenses include juvenile crimes such as minors in possession, or drug infractions, reckless driving, or similar charges. When you are charged with driving under the influence, Florida law gives you a 10-day window in which to request an administrative hearing to prevent your license from being suspended. If you want to maintain your driving privileges, making a timely request for this hearing is critical. Thus, it is always in your best interest to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible after being charged with any criminal offense. Your court appearances are scheduled for you; you likely will not get to choose when they occur and it is your responsibility to be available for these appearances. Failure to appear may result in a warrant for your arrest. Orlando, Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Although Florida law treats driving under the influence as a very serious offense, Florida also provides many opportunities for first time offenders to lessen the severity of the charge. Some people may be eligible for DUI school, alcohol treatment, community service or even the possibility of Pretrial Diversion. Subsequent offenses require ignition interlock devices, assuming you are able to keep your license. In certain cases and after certain conditions and probationary periods are met and completed, you may even be able to have your charges dismissed. Your eligibility and options will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your crime, your past criminal history, and a variety of other contributing factors. Hiring an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney is the best way to ensure that your legal rights are protected and you will receive the best possible outcome. As former prosecutors, we pride ourselves on our vast knowledge of the criminal justice system and procedure, and will make sure you understand your options every step of the way. Call our Orlando office to talk to an attorney at Moses & Rooth today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Criminal Defense

Less Drunk Driving in Florida Thanks To Ride Sharing Companies

Ride sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have struck controversy throughout the United States due to their lack of regulation and legal protections for passengers. Florida lawmakers, however, have joined the ranks of several other states in looking to regulate this new “transportation networking” industry. Ride sharing companies are favored by consumers due to their low prices, ease of use, and convenience. Such companies are disfavored in the sense that they can afford to charge lower rates than their taxi driver counterparts because these companies do not require drivers to carry commercial licenses or carry liability insurance for their passengers. Regardless of any ongoing legal debates surrounding the regulation and legality of ride sharing companies, these companies are creating safe, inexpensive avenues for people to get home safely after a night out. It is believed that using such companies will reduce drunk driving offenses in Florida, like they have already in many other cities and states. Ride Sharing Companies Ride sharing companies effectively operate like taxis. The model for ride sharing companies is unique in that the request for pickup is wholly controlled through one’s smart phone. GPS locators know where you want to be picked up based on your current location, and GPS locators in the cars show you how far away your driver is. You can get fare estimates, estimates on pick up and drop off times, and choose who your driver will be based on other passenger reviews. Additionally, companies such as Uber have two other very appealing characteristics. First, these rides are typically a fraction of what a ride would cost in a taxi. Again, this is partly attributable to the fact that ride sharing drivers are not presently required to carry commercial licenses or have heightened insurance that creates additional expense for other drivers. Second, payment is automatic. A customer has a saved credit card on the application; a rider never needs to fumble with a credit card, tip, or be concerned about individual drivers having their credit card information. Positive Impact on Drinking and Driving The ease by which people can utilize ride sharing services and the low costs these companies can offer is encouraging people to utilize this form of transportation over drinking and driving. While people may be deterred by paying high amounts for a taxi or having to flag one down after a long night, ride sharing companies eliminate all of these stressors. A person simply requests a ride, can either watch on the GPS for the vehicle’s arrival or wait until they get a notification, enjoy the ride, and get out at their destination—nothing to swipe, input, or think about. Industry leader Uber estimates that over one million South Floridians are utilizing their services, and the company has been given the state’s blessing to operate under its current procedures through September of this year. With this will come the opportunity for more people to sign up, use the services, and save the lives of themselves and others on the road. Orlando Drunk Driving Criminal Defense Attorneys At Moses & Rooth, we understand that people do not always make their soundest life decisions when they are under the influence of alcohol. While taking a taxi or ride sharing service is a simple way to protect yourself against drunk driving charges, everyone makes mistakes. Our experienced drunk driving defense attorneys know how to navigate the criminal justice system to ensure that you are treated fairly. We will confidentially, non-judgmentally, and zealously advocate on your behalf for the best outcome given your unique situation. To learn more about your legal rights after being charged with a drunk driving or other criminal offense, contact our Orlando office today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Florida Tourism Defense: What You Need to Know

Criminal Defense for Tourists in FL Florida is an extremely popular tourist destination. From theme parks to beaches, there are thousands of things to see and do in Florida. But have you ever wondered what happens if you get in trouble with the law while you are on vacation? If you are a non-Florida resident and are arrested for a criminal offense while visiting in Florida, it is important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Criminal charges cannot be ignored and you must face the possible consequences regardless of your resident state. The Basics of Jurisdiction Even though you live out of the state of Florida or even outside the United States, your criminal charges will be heard in the county in which you were arrested or issued a notice to arrear.  So if you are arrested in Orlando, Florida then the jurisdiction for your criminal charges is Orange County, Orlando, Florida.  Your case will not be transferred closer to your home. Tourism Crimes Most commonly, Florida tourism crimes involve alcohol. Whether it be a drinking and driving offense, a minor possession offense, violation of open container laws, or a traffic violation, you will be charged and tried in the state of Florida. This can be a burdensome task with numerous court dates, reporting requirements, and other limitations imposed due to the nature of the charges. It is impractical to presume that out-of-state offenders will be able to make every court date and travel to Florida regularly for these matters—however, missing a court date can cause a warrant for your arrest. Missing a hearing, probation meeting, or other court-ordered appointment can have catastrophic effects on the disposition of your case, your profession and life. If an offender does not reside in Florida and personal jurisdiction is proper in Florida court, the offender must appear in court. Alternatively, an offender can hire an attorney to make court appearances on his or her behalf. This can eliminate the need for the offender to return to Florida, or at least minimize the amount of travel necessary. Hiring an attorney is not only a cost-effective solution for out of state offenders, but will also increase the chances of challenging or lessening the effects of the offender’s criminal charges. Orlando Tourist Criminal Defense Attorneys If you or anyone you know has committed a crime in the state of Florida, regardless of where you are from, it is critical to secure legal counsel immediately. By minimizing direct contact between the offender and law enforcement, you can lessen the possibility of making potentially incriminating statements or making a mistake that makes the case against you stronger. As former prosecutors, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth know how to navigate the legal system and accommodate both in and out of state offenders. If you have questions about your legal rights, contact our Orlando office today.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

How to Stop a Friend from Drinking and Driving?

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” a slogan of the Ad Council in the 1980s, has been used for comedy parities over and over again, but none the less holds a truth. There are a number of strategies to use when trying to stop a friend from drinking and driving. Nonetheless, we cannot always be there to stop our friends from getting behind the wheel after drinking. If you have a friend that has been charged with a DUI, urge them to speak to an experienced DUI defense lawyer at Moses & Rooth to insure their best defense against driver’s license suspension, fines, and jail time. Ways to Prevent a Friend from Drinking and Driving Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) give the following tips when trying to stop a friend from drinking and driving: Be non-confrontational; Get the friend a cab; Place them on a bus or other form of public transportation; Find a sober driver; Remember that the person is drunk and speaking slower may be useful; Explain that you care for them and don’t want to see them get hurt; Have them sleep over; Enlist a friend to help convince them to not drive; and Get the friend’s keys. MADD also suggest that if all else fails to call the cops because it is better for your friend to be arrested than to be injured, injure another, kill, or be killed because they choose to drink and drive. Legal Consequences of a DUI It is also important that your friend knows the legal repercussions if they choose to drink and drive. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a DUI conviction can result in fines from $500 to $5,000, 50 hours of community service or an additional fine of $10 per community service hour, probation up to one year, incarceration from six months to five years, license suspension up to one year, vehicle impoundment, and an ignition interlock can be issued. The severity of the punishment depends on a number of things, such as blood alcohol level and if previous offenses have occurred. A friend that is convicted of a DUI causing personal injury or property damage is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and face up to $1,000 in fines or up to one year in prison. A driver causing serious bodily injury while driving under the influence may be convicted of a third degree felony and face up to $5,000 in fines and/or five years in prison. A driver causing a death while driving under the influence may be convicted of a second degree felony and face up to $10,000 in fines and/or 15 years in prison. If the driver leaves the scene of the accident the driver may face a first degree felony and 30 years in prison. Stopping a friend from drinking and driving is the best outcome. However, if your friend has been charged with a DUI, encourage them to seek the advice of the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Moses and Rooth in central Florida to fight on their behalf. Have your friend contact us today so we can help them put their DUI charge behind them.

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