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Articles Posted in DUI

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According to reports released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday, crime in Broward and Palm Beach counties took a plunge in 2013 and stayed in line with the state’s total decrease in criminal offenses.

In its 2013 Annual Uniform Crime Report, the state agency concludes that criminal activity, ranging from rapes and murders to robberies and burglaries, have steadily dropped in Florida over the past five years.

The overall crime rate fell by about seven percent in Broward County. With that said, the report relays that there were 46 more forcible rapes in 2013 compared to 2012. The biggest category of crimes to drop was robberies, decreasing by about 13 percent.

crime sceneIn Palm Beach County, the overall crime rate plunged by about three percent in 2013. Conversely, there were nearly 100 more vehicle thefts than in 2012.

FDLE computed the same number of murders in 2012 and 2013 in both counties — 80 in Broward and 74 in Palm Beach.

When you are charged with a crime in Florida, the consequences can be devastating. Criminal charges have the ability to haunt you for the rest of your life, sometimes going as far as limiting your ability to find a job, own or rent a home and even maintain or build new relationships. Even if you do not serve any jail time, a criminal conviction can still negatively impact your life.

A criminal investigation can progress rather quickly. What you may think is nothing right now could lead to your arrest tomorrow. The sooner you involve a criminal lawyer with your charges, the better the outcome for you. A South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can thoroughly analyze every aspect of your case and begin evaluating possible defenses and strategies right away. From early on, we will look for ways to help you avoid a criminal conviction.

We handle all of the following types of criminal cases, including:

  • Sex offenses, including rape, child molestation, child pornography, prostitution, indecent exposure, child abuse and sexual assault
  • Drug crimes, including possession, sale, distribution, grow house and trafficking
  • Violent crimes, including kidnapping, burglary, assault, battery, robbery, domestic violence, murder, manslaughter and weapons charges
  • White Collar Crimes, such as Internet crimes, fraud, forgery, identity theft and RICO
  • Juvenile Offenses
  • DUI Charges, including DUI Manslaughter and DUI Serious Bodily Injury

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A bar popular with college students in downtown Boca Raton was the scene of two fights earlier this month, and has been the place of nearly a hundred arrests since its opening last June, according to Boca Raton police records.

Police are now saying that the high number of disturbances at 101 Cantina in downtown Boca must be dealt with.

The bar’s Boca Raton location had its grand opening party on June 8, 2013. Since then, officers have responded to 92 calls for service for incidents including fights, vandalism, beverage violations and other disturbances, according to police records.

The total number of arrests at this point is 98. Of the total arrests, the majority are due to underage drinking.

bar hoochIn fact, according to police records, 78 of the 98 arrests were for possession of alcohol by a minor. While underage drinking charges do not generally result in the suspect being taken to jail, police still give suspects notices to appear in court at a later date, which counts as an arrest.

The suspects arrested at 101 Cantina range in age from 17 to 20. Police claim they are working with state regulators and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office to address issues at the bar.

As for the two fights earlier this month, one involved an 18-year-old Boca Raton man who was allegedly jumped by a group of about six to eight males as he was leaving, according to the incident report. Police noted that “there were over 200 people in the area” when the fight happened, and no witnesses were able to describe the suspects. No arrests have been made.

The second fight, apparently happened at about 2:30 a.m. and resulted in the arrest of a 21-year-old man who faces a charge of causing a disturbance.

In the state of Florida, it is considered illegal for any person under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcoholic beverages. A conviction for underage drinking can vary depending on the details of the case, but maximum penalties generally include up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500. In addition to time behind bars and fines, the defendant could also face driver’s license suspension or revocation. In order to protect yourself from the strict consequences that come along with an underage drinking conviction, you must act quickly and enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney.

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A veteran Broward County circuit judge has been charged with driving under the influence after her car was allegedly seen by police driving erratically and nearly hitting another vehicle in Boca Raton.

According to a Boca Raton police report, the woman was pulled over along the 2400 block of West Palmetto Park Road around 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The report alleges that police were called earlier in the evening police about the same vehicle, a white Mercedes-Benz, after someone witnessed the car driving erratically near 49 Northeast Second Street.

A Boca Raton police officer wrote in his report that he observed that the woman’s eyes were red and glassy, her speech was slow and slurred and that her face was red and flush. He also said he detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from her breath.

When the woman was asked if she knew why police stopped her, she apparently mentioned that her vehicle had been weaving.

She was placed under arrest just after 11 p.m. and reports indicate that she refused to take a breath test.

The woman was booked into jail around 1:30 a.m. and released shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Whether or not this woman’s DUI arrest will affect her role on the bench remains unclear at this time.

judge betch.jpgThe Broward chief judge said there are no exact rules set forth in how to handle a judge involved in a situation like this.

The woman was first appointed to the bench in Broward County by then-Governor Jeb Bush in 2003 and has since handled a number of high-profile cases.

This case goes to show that anyone can be arrested for DUI. Everyone makes mistakes, and that includes police officers and even judges. Fortunately, if you are arrested for a first-time DUI the charge will likely be a misdemeanor, unless there are aggravating circumstances.

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A Volusia County deputy sheriff who was arrested Saturday night on a DUI charge will also face a child-neglect charge because a 7-year-old girl was apparently in the patrol car with her.

The 37-year-old woman has been placed on administrative leave with pay, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

She was off duty at the time of her arrest, but driving her patrol car, the Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.

volusia county courthouse betch.jpgThe woman has been with the agency since 1999 and works at the Volusia County Courthouse Annex in Daytona Beach.

No further information has been released at this point.

The consequences of a DUI charge alone can result in jail time, stiff fines and the loss of your driver’s license. Having a minor in your car with you when you are stopped by law enforcement can tack on additional penalties, including child neglect and child endangerment charges. These charges are counted as separate offenses from a DUI charge, meaning that the combined penalties could result in longer time behind bars and increased fines.

DUI cases involving minors travelling as passengers in the car are highly emotional and require the help of a DUI defense attorney who can apply a powerful defense based off the facts and not what the prosecution speculates. When faced with child neglect charges stemming from a DUI, you must protect your rights starting from your arrest all the way through the conclusion of your case. A Volusia County DUI Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help you pursue a positive outcome that you can live with. As trial attorneys and former prosecutors, we fully understand how the State builds its case against those charged with DUI and child neglect. We are available 24/7 to discuss your case with you and make sure you understand what can be done to defeat the serious charges against you.

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If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Dixie, Levy or Gilchrist County, it is important to that you obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Why? Despite the severity of the charges you face, a good criminal defense lawyer can explain your rights throughout all stages of the criminal process and help you make the most informed decisions regarding your case. Most importantly, a criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a reduction of charges or dismissal and a jail or prison sentence.

handcuffs.jpgAt Whittel & Melton, our Dixie County Criminal Defense Lawyers have extensive experience in defending people that have been arrested and accused of every type of criminal offense. Our firm handles all types of criminal charges – from Driving While License is Suspended or Revoked and serious DUI offenses to drug crimes, violent crimes and even juvenile offenses. We stand ready to defend clients at every stage of the criminal process, beginning with the arrest. If you have been arrested in Cross City, Horseshoe Beach or the surrounding area, a Dixie County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can make sure you understand the charges you are up against. Contact us today online or call 866-608-5529 to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Boca Raton, FL – A 20-year-old Boca woman was arrested and charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter and two counts of vehicular homicide on Wednesday in connection with a March crash that left a mother and daughter dead.

On March 9, an 85-year-old woman and her 54-year-old daughter were killed in a two-vehicle accident just west of Boca Raton.

The 19-year-old driver apparently failed to stop at a red light and collided with a Toyota driven by an 84-year-old man.

The woman and her passenger suffered minor injuries. However, the passengers in the Toyota, including the victims’ husband and father were seriously hurt.

506798__3.jpgAn arrest for a driving offense is a charge that should be taken seriously, but when an accident occurs and someone dies as a result, the matter become even more severe. Vehicular manslaughter charges are not taken lightly in the state of Florida, especially if alcohol is believed to have been a factor. Vehicular manslaughter is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida punishable by a maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine. This offense can be escalated to a first-degree felony punishable by thirty years in prison if the driver left the scene of an accident.

While car accidents can result in devastating losses, not every fatality on the roadway should result in an arrest for vehicular manslaughter. Florida law enforcement officers will investigate the accident site for evidence that supports vehicular manslaughter charges. However, a Florida Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney at Whittel & Melton can perform an independent evaluation of the accident and work with accident reconstruction experts in order to establish viable defenses against the charges.

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TampaBay.com is reporting that last Tuesday’s Weeki Wachee crash that involved a head-on collision between a car and a school bus may result in a DUI charge.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Michelle R. Sutton of Spring Hill was allegedly driving a Toyota coupe at a high rate of speed– weaving in and out of the westbound lane of County Road 550 — before ultimately colliding head first into the school bus. The bus was carrying about 30 students from Spring Hill’s Westside Elementary at the time of the crash. Sutton was seriously injured in the DUI crash and was taken to Oak Hill Hospital where an ER nurse allegedly found a plastic bag containing about 18 grams of marijuana in Ms. Sutton’s shorts pocket.

Because she was being admitted to the hospital, the deputy gave Ms. Sutton a citation and notice to appear in court next month for possession of marijuana instead of arresting her–but the Hernando County State Attorney’s Office has 90 days to file a misdemeanor DUI or 180 days to file a felony DUI with Serious Bodily Injury case, if they choose.

This presents an interesting issue from a constitutional law perspective. Since a nurse–and not law enforcement–found the marijuana on Ms. Sutton, she does not have the same constitutional protections from unlawful searches and seizures as she would if the police had found it at the scene of the accident. Generally under Florida law, the trigger for a constitutional law violation that can result in evidence being suppressed is that some government entity was involved in the seizure. In this case, Ms. Sutton told the nurse she was wearing her boyfriend’s shorts and didn’t know about the drugs in the pocket. Regardless, to sustain a conviction, the burden will still be on the State to prove that Ms. Sutton was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to the extent that her normal faculties were impaired.

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The Ocala Star Banner is reporting that an Ocala man was taken into custody and charged with DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI with property damage after being involved in a car crash that has left his girlfriend dead. He was arrested after being treated or minor injuries Munroe Regional Medical Center.
According Florida Highway Patrol reports, the accident occurred Tuesday night on U.S. 27. Witnesses told troopers that they saw the driver speeding in the left lane while going around a right-hand curve when he tried to pass a slower-moving vehicle in front of him when and lost control and the car, striking a utility pole. The passenger had to be extracted from the vehicle and was rushed to Munroe Regional, where she was pronounced dead.

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Karen Voyles from the Gainesville Sun is reporting that a Gainesville driver whose license was permanently revoked in November for drunk driving was arrested again for DUI early Wednesday morning. His blood alcohol level was calculated at three times the legal limit.

According to the article, allegedly this is at the very least, the man’s fourth DUI. An Alachua County Sheriff’s Deputy noticed a Chevrolet truck veer into the westbound lane of NE 39th Avenue and pulled him over. The driver eventually submitted to a breath test which police records indicate blood alcohol levels of .246 and .254. Under Florida law, a driver is presumed drunk when their blood alcohol level reaches .08.

These are very serious and complicated cases. Under Florida law, a fourth and subsequent DUI charge is a felony punishable up to 5 years in state prison as well as a litany of statutorily-mandatory requirements such as fines, probation, DUI school and the instillation of an ignition interlock device.

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The Florida Highway Patrol will be checking out drivers on New Year’s Eve at a checkpoint along Highway 90 in Columbia County. In what the FHP calls a “Comprehensive Roadside Sobriety Checkpoint,” troopers will be stationed along the highway checking for impaired drivers, people with no license and vehicles that aren’t safe.

Firstcoastnews.com says nearly 23,000 alcohol-related crashes happened statewide in 2007. In Columbia County alone, 11 fatal crashes were attributed to alcohol.

Sobriety checkpoints have different constitutional requirements than a traditional stop– like for example, when a person gets pulled over for speeding. Police are requred to follow strict procedures when implementing a checkpoint and failure to abide by those policies can render a checkpoint stop illegal.

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