| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Florida’s DUI Ignition Interlock Bill Advances

Under certain circumstances, Florida residents convicted of DUI may be required to install special “ignition interlock” devices in their cars in order to regain their driving privileges. Interlock devices contain a breath analyzer that determines if the driver’s blood-alcohol content is below the Florida legal limit of .08 percent. If the driver is above the limit, the vehicle will not start. First-Time DUI Charge Could be Dismissed Under New Legislation Under current Florida law, an ignition interlock device is mandatory for 1 year following a driver’s second DUI conviction, and for 6 months after a first DUI conviction if there was a minor in the car or the driver’s blood-alcohol content was at least 0.15 percent. For all other first-time DUI convictions, an interlock device may be ordered at the discretion of the sentencing judge. But some Florida legislators want to encourage first-time DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices. Similar bills have been introduced in the state House and Senate on this subject: House Bill 949 and Senate Bill 918. HB 949, introduced by Rep. Cord Byrd of Neptune Beach, states that a person convicted of a first DUI, with no prior criminal record, could elect to install an ignition interlock device for six months. A judge could also still order an interlock as a condition of probation. In either case, the court would “withhold adjudication” of the defendant’s guilt during the six-month period. In other words, a person who successfully uses the interlock device for six months will effectively have the DUI erased from their record. According to Byrd, this means the driver “would be able to not report [the DUI charge] on an employment application, however law enforcement would still have access to the information.” The second bill, SB 918, would effectively do the same thing as HB 949. It was introduced in the Senate by Orlando-area Sen. David Simmons. On March 21, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee gave preliminary approval to HB 949. The bill must still be approved by the full House Government Accountability Committee, as well as the House Judiciary Committee, before proceeding to a final floor vote. Similarly, SB 918 is working its way through a number of committee approvals before receiving a final vote in that chamber. If both houses agree to identical forms of the bill, it will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. Both bills propose an effective date of October 1, 2017. Have You Been Charged With a DUI in the Orlando Area? HB949 and SB918 could have a significant impact on thousands of Florida residents. According to an analysis of HB949 prepared by the House of Representatives staff, there were 12,627 first-time DUI convictions in Florida in 2016. Currently there are more than 9,000 DUI offenders required to use ignition interlock devices. That number could therefore more than double under the new legislation. If you have been charged with DUI, it is important to work with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney who understands the law and keep you informed of potential changes that affect your rights. If you need help, call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

5 Things You Didn’t Expect From a Drunk Driving Charge

by David W. Bate Emotional As a criminal defense lawyer in Bangor, ME, I have been practicing for over 20 years and it still surprises me every time: Ordinary people charged with drunk driving are devastated by the prospect of facing real criminal charges with real criminal consequences.  You are afraid to face family and friends.  Through mere negligent conduct, getting behind the wheel when intoxicated, you are thrown in with other criminal defendants who intentionally committed their crimes: thieves, burglars and murderers.  And you don’t know what to expect. I think it helps speaking to a Bangor, ME criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to alleviate the misconceptions and get a clear picture of what’s coming.  Even if it seems to you that the State’s case is rock solid and a guilty plea likely, a well-focused analysis and review can alleviate the anxiety of the unknown.  For some cases, a defense lawyer’s scrutiny of the police reports can unearth a complete defense or at least an argument that can reduce the charges and penalties. Inconvenience License suspensions (150 day minimum in Maine) wreak havoc on drivers and their families and friends, especially in rural states without public transportation.  Driving is one of the most important conveniences in life, one that we all take for granted.  The stress of a suspension can cause job loss, friend loss, even loss of family.  A defense attorney may be able to avoid or minimize your suspension to reduce this unexpectedly burdensome penalty. Jail Time Jail undoubtedly is the most daunting prospect of a drunk driving charge.  You may have had a taste of jail during your arrest.  It is a bad place with bad people.  Although most states. Like Maine, have alternative sentencing programs designed to place you in camps in classes instead of behind bars, it often takes a defense attorney to navigate the complex rules behind these programs.   Employment Some employers equate a drunk driving conviction with a loss of trust and reliability.  Even if your job does not involve driving, your employer may see you as less likely to show up for work, question your sobriety, question your judgment, and pass you up for raises and promotion.  A defense lawyer is your best option for avoiding conviction and, at times, will be able to convince your employer that the charge or conviction, if unavoidable, have made you a better employee. Lifetime Criminal Record A criminal record will be public and will stay with you a lifetime.  A conviction will be scrutinized at awkward moments by potential employers and even friends and family.  Some see any criminal conviction as a permanent black mark against your character.  Although some states have procedures for pardoning drunk driving convictions (Maine does not), most have waiting periods and a stingy attitude toward A defense attorney obviously is your best bet against this life long stigma. Thanks to our blog contributor, David W. Bate, of David W. Bate Law Office, PC, for his insight into the consequences of drunk driving charges.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drunk Driving

Have You Been Charged with a DUI?

We all enjoy those moments that make us happiest. We tend to enjoy not only the moment, but the people we around at the time. Our happiest moments are often times celebrated with alcohol, from grabbing a beer with a friend, to wine, liquor, and champagne. Though celebratory times call for celebratory measures, it is important not to drive while you are under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances. When you drink and drive you increase the risk of hurting or killing yourself, as well as hurting and killing others. According to Mothers against Drunk Driving , 28.1% of all traffic related deaths were due to drunk driving in the recent year, with 40,677 DUI arrests and 26,291 DUI convictions. Because of these numbers, Florida is becoming stricter on those who are charged and convicted of drunk driving. If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI, it is beyond beneficial to contact an experienced Florida DUI attorney to help you with your case. What Happens if I am Charged with a DUI? When you are stopped by a police officer and asked to take a blood, urine or breath test it is in your best interest to comply. According to Florida’s implied consent law, any person who accepts the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to submit a chemical test or physical test if an officer has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is driving while impaired. Though you can refuse, you should not. Refusal results in the suspension of your driving privileges for a year for a first refusal or 18 months if you previously had your license suspended for refusing a previous chemical or physical test. If you are charged with a DUI, seek legal representation immediately. Depending on whether the DUI is your first, second, or subsequent offense will determine what consequences await you. Consequences can consist of imprisonment up to one year, fines up to $5,000, license suspension up to ten years, and the use of an interlock ignition device in your vehicle. Because of these penalties, seek legal advice if you have been charged with a DUI. Need Legal Advice? Being arrested and charged with a DUI is not a good experience and it does not look good on your driving record or criminal record. However, in some cases, you may have possible defenses that may be able to save you from this stigma. When you are figuring out your next steps, it is important to consider an attorney. If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 for an initial consultation. We can work together to figure out the best possible strategies for your case.  

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| 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: 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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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Drunk Driving

Did federal drunk driving study trample motorists’ rights?

We write frequently about the delicate balance that the criminal justice system ultimately seeks to achieve. On the one hand, it is important to proportionately and fairly hold individuals accountable for criminal wrongdoing in order to advance the cause of public safety. On the other hand, it is vital that the system ensures that the rights of individuals accused or convicted of wrongdoing are respected at every step in the process. Recently, a governmental initiative aimed at promoting public safety arguably trampled on the rights of motorists. Essentially, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently conducted a National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving. According to the Associated Press, this particular survey has been conducted a handful of times since 1973. The survey helps federal regulators monitor drunk driving behaviors on American roadways. During the course of the survey, thousands of motorists were pulled over and both asked for a swab of their mouths and questioned about their driving habits. Though these motorists were not arrested or accused of any criminal wrongdoing, the invasive nature of the survey has many angered that the government is pursuing aims of public safety without respecting motorists’ right to privacy. Though submitting a mouth swab and answering questions were both voluntary actions on the part of motorists, many may have not understood that these actions were voluntary. Any time that the government asks for bodily material that could be tested for DNA, it is important for individuals to be cautious. As a result, if you ever have questions about what kinds of governmental and law enforcement actions are voluntary and which are not, ask to speak to an attorney before submitting to any testing or questioning. Source: The Huffington Post, “Roadside survey of impaired driving causes outcry,” Michael Rubinkam, Feb. 20, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Drunk Driving

Supreme Court will consider anonymous tips and traffic stops

Law enforcement officers must work under certain constraints. They may not arrest whom they please, search buildings that they please or even pull over whom they please without adhering to certain guidelines. These guidelines are constructed to help ensure that Americans’ civil liberties are respected. As a result, if law enforcement officers violate these guidelines and an individual’s civil liberties in addition, the criminal justice system may be compelled to drop any criminal charges brought against the affected individual. For example, in order to legally pull over a motorist for suspected drunk driving, the motorist generally needs to have either committed a traffic infraction or have behaved in such a way that officers are given probable cause to believe that the motorist is drunk. Absent a traffic violation or probable cause, law enforcement officers cannot generally pull a motorist over on a suspected drunk driving charge. If they do anyway, the charges against the motorist may need to be thrown out, even if he or she was indeed driving drunk. Recently, the United States Supreme Court decided that it will hear arguments in a case that questions whether responding to an anonymous tip about reckless driving falls within the guidelines that legally allow law enforcement officers to pull a motorist over. Some jurisdictions only allow officers to pull drivers over based on anonymous tips if an officer has also witnessed reckless driving, while others act on anonymous tips alone. It is critical that the justice system is run in fair and predictable ways. Hopefully the Supreme Court will settle this question definitively and with the privacy rights of motorists in mind. Source: Denver Post, “Court: Is anonymous tip enough for traffic stop?” Mark Sherman, Oct. 1, 2013

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Drunk Driving

Beware Stronger Drinks and the DUI Potential They Inspire

Not all drinks are created equal. It used to be that adults could make educated decisions about their levels of intoxication by understanding that 12 ounces of beer is equal in terms of alcoholic strength to five ounces of wine or a fairly standard 1.5 ounce shot of hard alcohol. However, this rule of thumb is no longer terribly reliable. Most adults are very responsible when it comes to drinking and driving. A staggering number of drunk driving offenders truly believed themselves to be legally sober when they got behind the wheel. But because alcohol metabolizes differently under different circumstances, the only way adults can ensure that they do not drive drunk is to abstain from drinking, to avoid driving or to allow a long time to pass after drinking relatively little before getting behind the wheel. One of the reasons for this frustrating reality is that many drinks have become stronger over the past few years. For a number of reasons, many beer and wine manufacturers have increased the alcohol content levels in their products. As a result, some 12 ounce glasses of beer and five ounce glasses of wine are stronger than a standard drink. As a result, it is important to both monitor your alcohol intake before driving and to also understand the strength of the drinks you are imbibing. By understanding these two factors, you will place yourself in a better position to make an educated choice about whether you are safe to drive legally or not. Source: HealthDay, “How Much Alcohol In Your Drink? Stronger Beverages Make It Tough to Tell,” Brenda Goodman, Oct. 15, 2013

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Drunk Driving

DUI breathalyzer issue heard by the Florida Supreme Court

Breathalyzer devices are routinely used to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). The readings obtained from these devices are then used against a given suspect in court, should the results indicate that the suspect’s BAC is over the legal limit of .08 for adults aged 21 and older. However, these devices are notoriously unreliable. The Florida Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case centered on the reliability of breathalyzer devices. The outcome will assuredly impact a high percentage of drunk driving cases brought in the Sunshine State. At the heart of the case is the CMI Inc. Corporation, which supplies Florida law enforcement with the only models of breathalyzers whose results are considered admissible evidence in the state’s criminal courts. Three drunk driving defendants are arguing that they should be granted access to documents that pertain to CMI’s breathalyzer software. However, there is a procedural dispute before the court about how one must go about obtaining this critical information. Yet, it is not the procedure that is of great interest to DUI defendants and criminal rights activists all over Florida. Rather, concerned parties are focused on the fact that absent access to this documentation, it is difficult to justify allowing potentially defective or biased software to be admitted as evidence for a serious crime. However, the Florida Supreme Court must clear up this procedural hurdle before the documentation can be obtained at all. Only then can it be analyzed and appropriately challenged or accepted by those it affects. Source: Sunshine State News, “Will Florida Supreme Court Make DUI Breathalyzers Inadmissible?” Eric Giunta, Feb. 6, 2013

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