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What You Should Know About Field Sobriety Tests

What You Should Know About Field Sobriety Tests

When you have been arrested for driving under the influence, DUI, you might be wondering what you should know about the dreaded field sobriety test (FST). For example, will you have to recite the alphabet backward (a feat many of us cannot do sober, let alone during a stressful interaction with a police officer)? What are your rights?

In this brief article, a top DWI attorney in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares what you need to know about field sobriety tests, and how to best defend yourself against charges of DUI or DWI in Florida.

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

When you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer test, complete a field sobriety test, or both. It is important to note: a field sobriety test is not the same thing as being asked to breathe into a breathalyzer.

A field sobriety test might consist of three methods:


  • The “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus” test (which notably produces incorrect results 23% of the time according to The Southern California Research Institute, sponsored by NHTSA.)
  • The “Walk & Turn” test (in which results will be wrong 32% of the time.)
  • The “One Leg Stand” test (which yields incorrect results 35% of the time.)

Any other tests, including the infamous “alphabet” test and the finger to nose test, have been proven to lack scientific evidence as to their usefulness in proving a DUI and are not endorsed by the federal government or any law enforcement agencies.

Should You Take a Field Sobriety Test, or Refuse?

You may be wondering if a field sobriety test is mandatory. In Florida, the FST is not mandatory, but if you refuse you risk the officer making a decision to arrest and charge you with a DUI based on other factors.

For example, if you exhibit signs of impairment or smell of alcohol, you run the very high risk of arrest if you decide to challenge or refuse the FST. But, it should be noted that if the officer is asking that you perform FST’s, it is likely that he has already made up his mind that he is going to charge you with a DUI offense in our experience.

If you do decide to comply, the arrest might be avoided if you pass the test. If you decide to take the test, you should promptly tell the officer about any physical or mental problems that might have an impact on your ability to perform the tests.

Contact The Top DWI Attorney in Clearwater to Review Your FST

Most FSTs are recorded by the officer on video. This is made possible in part by body cams and dash cams. It is important to prove that the FST was administered properly in order to be admissible. Having a lawyer in our office review your field sobriety test results could be imperative in uncovering defenses in your case. A flawed FST might result in your charges being lowered to reckless driving or dismissed altogether.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, contact the best DWI lawyers in Clearwater, Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. Your attorney will discuss the best strategy to approach your case and will provide you with clear guidance on the best defense available.

For a free consultation with DWI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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5 Ways a DUI Charge Can Affect Your Life

5 Ways a DUI Charge Can Affect Your Life

When you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you might be wondering why you should bother defending yourself. The effects of a DUI charge and conviction can follow you for years to come, and may impact areas of your life which you might not have considered. In this brief article, a DWI defense attorney in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares 5 ways a DUI or DWI charge can impact your life and what to do if you have been arrested for a DUI.

1. You Can Lose Your Driving Privileges

This is possibly the most commonly known impact that being convicted of a DUI can carry: the loss or suspension of your driver’s licence. This might not happen right away, but it can cause major problems. You will no longer have a means to drive to work, pick up your children or take them to appointments, go to classes, or simply run errands on your own.

2. You May Face Increased Insurance Rates

If you are allowed to keep your driver’s license you may face major increases on your insurance rates. You might also be dropped from your car insurance carrier altogether depending on how many times you have faced DUI charges. This increase is no chump change. In fact, you might see your rates increase by as much as 80%.

3. A DUI May Impact Your Employment

We mentioned before how losing your license can create an issue getting to work, which is one impact on employment, but it goes beyond that. Your employment prospects may become limited as you might not pass a background check (depending on whether it was a misdemeanor or felony). If you already have a job, you will need extra time off to attend court hearings and trial dates, and can face a slew of scheduling issues.

4. You May Face a Loss of Scholarship or Tuition Assistance

If you’re currently in school or hoping to go back, many scholarships and tuition assistance programs refuse help to anyone who has a criminal charge, including a DUI. You will also miss out on tax credits like the American Opportunity Credit, which takes into account if you have been charged with any crimes before refunding a portion of the tuition and associated fees you pay out of pocket.

5. Your Reputation Will Be Damaged

There is no way to repair a tarnished reputation after you have been charged and convicted with a DUI. This can impact your personal and professional reputations, creating problems with family, friends, and coworkers over time.

Contact a DWI Attorney in Clearwater to Help

Being arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI does not have to mean an automatic conviction. Contact a DWI defense attorney in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan to help you find the best defense for your case. Your attorney will discuss the best strategy to approach your case and will provide you with clear guidance on the best defense available.

For a free consultation with DWI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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How Does a Florida Hardship License Work?

How Does a Florida Hardship License Work?

 

Commuting is a large part of most people’s daily routine, as they need to use their vehicle in order to get to and from work, school, and other necessary tasks. The inability to drive due to the loss of a driver’s license can thus be severely damaging to one’s livelihood, particularly if you don’t have a spouse or family member who can take your kids to school or give you a ride to work. Fortunately, Florida Law enables you to secure a hardship license so that you suffer little to no interruption in your ability to lawfully drive.

In this brief article, we’ll be exploring how to obtain a hardship license in Florida with the help of the best DUI lawyers in Clearwater, how a hardship license works, and what to do if you have been charged with violation of driver’s license restriction. For more information, please get in touch with a member of our team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan.

Getting Your Florida Hardship License

The process for obtaining a Florida hardship license differs depending on whether this is your first, second, third, or fourth DUI. For example, if you are a first-time DUI offender, Florida Statute sections 322.2615(1)(b)3 and 322.271(7) allow for you to immediately apply to obtain a hardship driving privilege. On the other hand, Florida law mandates that an individual with a second-time DUI conviction must wait one year from the date that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) revoked their license before applying for a hardship license. Similarly, a person who has been convicted of a third DUI must wait a period of two years from the date of the ten-year revocation before applying for a hardship license.

In order to be eligible for a hardship license in Florida after a DUI arrest, you must do the following:

  • Enroll in DUI school
  • Wait the required period to fill out an application
  • Bring proof of your enrollment in DUI school to the DHSMV Administrative Review Office
  • Fill out the application and pay the filing fee

Afterward, a hearing will occur in which the court will decide whether a full license suspension would place undue harm on you and your family. They will also examine your criminal history in order to determine whether offering the hardship license will benefit the safety of the public.

Understanding the Restrictions of a Florida Hardship License

Unfortunately, while a Florida hardship license will grant you limited driving privileges, it also comes with restrictions. Given the somewhat vague nature of the statute governing permissible use, this means that we see a wide variety of interpretations by law enforcement when it comes to the lawful use of a hardship license. Even driver’s license office personnel will often have conflicting opinions as to the extent of the permitted use of the license.

To better under these restrictions, it helps to know what kind of hardship license you have. A “C” restriction license typically secured by first-time offenders authorizes driving for “business purposes only,” while a “D” restriction license typically granted to multiple offenders limits driving to “employment purposes only.” Employment purposes is defined as driving to and from work and any necessary on the job driving, while business purposes is much broader — including any driving necessary to maintain livelihood.

What If I Get Charged with Violation of Driver’s License Restriction?

If you are subject to a traffic stop while driving on a hardship license, the individual facts and circumstances associated with your operation of the motor vehicle will be closely scrutinized by the police. For example, a police officer may be inclined to disbelieve your account that you are headed to work at an office building when you are dressed in a tank top and shorts. As always, the best way to avoid being arrested for violating a hardship license restriction is to avoid being stopped in your motor vehicle. Driving a car with an expired tag or driving recklessly is an open invitation to trouble.

However, in the event that you are charged with violation of driver’s license restriction, the top DUI lawyers in Clearwater are here to help. We may be able to prove that your driving was within the permitted use of your restriction or secure a withholding of adjudication that saves your hardship license from being revoked for improper use. Just give us a call or fill out our contact form today for a free consultation.

For a free consultation with one of the best DUI attorneys in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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I Failed the Breathalyzer — Now What?

I Failed the Breathalyzer — Now What?

 

Picture this — you’re driving home after spending an evening with a couple of close friends over a few laughs, good food, and maybe even a glass of beer or two. While you’re still on your way, you get stopped by a police officer, things take a wrong turn, and you end up being arrested for DUI. You know that you weren’t driving recklessly or otherwise showing signs of impairment, but you still blow a 0.08 or above on the breath test. Now, you fear the police may have definitive proof that you were driving while intoxicated.

However, it’s important to remember that a failed breath test is not an automatic conviction for DUI. A breathalyzer test is just one piece of evidence against you, and it is entirely possible to raise an effective defense against criminal charges with the help of a top DWI attorney in Clearwater. Below, we’ll go over several reasons why breath tests may fail to give accurate results and how we can keep your breath test results out of court.

Related: What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop?

Reasons Why Breath Tests May Fail to Provide Accurate Results

It may come as a surprise to many people, but the breathalyzer test you submit to does not always provide the most reliable results. Why? The breathalyzer machine actually has quite a few flaws on its own. As a result, it’s entirely possible for the breathalyzer to provide a false reading, wrongfully convicting you of a DUI if you do not have an attorney in place to fight the charges. Below, we go over several frequent cases of false readings:

  • Body still in absorption phase: It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for your body to absorb alcohol after it has been consumed. Thus, you could have been under the limit while driving but over the limit when you were tested at the police station.
  • Mouth alcohol: When you burp or belch, the gas from your stomach, including any alcohol, will remain in your mouth until it is dissipated. This can dramatically throw off the results of the breath test.
  • Mouth contaminants: Other mouth contaminants, such as mouthwash, dentures, breath sprays, and gum disease, can all significantly skew the results of the breath test.
  • Calibration error: Most handheld breathalyzers will require proper software calibration to accurately detect an individual’s blood-alcohol level. If these devices are not calibrated, the accuracy of the sensors will degrade over time.

How We Can Keep Your Breath Test Results Out of Court

The top DUI attorneys in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan are very familiar with the various nuances in the law associated with breath testing and are in a unique position to critically analyze the effectiveness of the breath testing machine. We will determine whether the machine used in your case was properly registered and approved for use by FDLE, calibrated, and tested for accuracy. If any kind of calibration or maintenance problem is discovered in your case, we can point to this failure on the part of law enforcement to comply with the administrative rules and prevent the prosecution from introducing your breath results in court.

Other defenses to potentially exclude breath test readings include whether the office had a right to originally stop your vehicle, if your breath test sample was secured via unlawful coercion, and if you were observed for a 20 minute period in order to ensure you did not regurgitate or place something in your mouth. Our team of highly-experienced attorneys is at an advantage when it comes to employing these types of defenses because we have been trained in the proper administration of breath tests. We will examine your case from all possible angles and identify any legal issues that could lead to the exclusion of your breath test results.

For a free consultation with one of the best DUI attorneys in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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What Are the Consequences of a DUI With Hit and Run?

What Are the Consequences of a DUI With Hit and Run?


Being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) carries serious consequences. However, the situation becomes even more serious when combined with a hit and run. In this brief article, DUI attorneys in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan discuss the possible penalties of DUI with hit and run and what you should do if you are being charged with a hit and run, DUI, or both.

Why Can Drivers Expect More Police Activity During the Super Bowl?

As mentioned earlier, the Super Bowl is a time for celebration. The last time the city of Tampa hosted a Super Bowl, over 300 private events happened in addition to the game itself. These celebrations often involve alcohol, especially for the city hosting the event and for the cities that have teams in the game. For this reason, police activity is often ramped up.

Another reason you can expect higher levels of police activity during the Super Bowl is because of the effort to curb other crimes, like illegal gambling, drug possession and trafficking, human trafficking, and theft — all of which may pose a higher risk during the event. As a result, drivers can expect checkpoints and tighter security during this time, including cameras, police in cars and on foot, and other methods of surveillance.

What Qualifies as a Hit and Run?

Even without the element of a DUI, a hit and run is very serious. In the State of Florida, the definition of a “hit-and-run,” also referred to as “leaving the scene of an accident,” is defined as a driver failing to remain at the site of a vehicle crash and failing to fulfill statutory duties when the accident involves property damage, bodily injury or death.

Florida law states that the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash that results in injury to a person other than serious bodily injury is responsible for immediately stopping the vehicle at the scene of the crash and remaining at the scene until he or she has fulfilled the necessary requirements. Under Florida Statute 316.062, these responsibilities include providing his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving and making a report to law enforcement. A person who willfully and knowingly violates any of the requirements laid out in this standard commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, 775.083, or 775.084. In other words, failing to stay at the scene can make what would have possibly been a more simple resolution into a much more complicated issue.

How Can a DUI Be Proven If the Driver Flees?

Leaving the scene of an accident without a DUI involved can result in a fine that ranges from $500 to as much as $10,000 (depending on injuries or fatalities). Jail sentencing for a standard hit and run may range from 60 days up to as much as 30 years for a fatal crash. If alcohol or drugs are involved in a hit and run, a DUI charge may be added on, which is accompanied by separate penalties. If convicted, punishment for a DUI conviction can include fines from $500 up to $5000 and 6 months or longer in jail. Further penalties can include suspension or revocation of your license, the loss of the use of your vehicle, mandatory attendance of a substance abuse program, installation of an ignition lock-out device on your vehicle, and mandatory community service. Often, if the driver remains at the scene, the judge may be more lenient, but hit and run with DUI may cause the judge to “throw the book” at you.

Many drivers who are convicted of a hit and run while driving under the influence did so because they thought they would be in more trouble if they stayed at the scene and were charged with a DUI. However, that is not necessarily the case. How can it be proven that someone was under the influence if the driver flees? The police must only prove that:

  • The defendant drove a vehicle;
  • When driving, the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug];
  • While driving under the influence, the defendant also (committed an illegal act/ [or] neglected to perform a legal duty);
  • The defendant’s (illegal act/ [or] failure to perform a legal duty) caused bodily injury to another person. (If there is an injury).

What Should You Do in a Collision While Intoxicated?

If you are driving while intoxicated, you should never leave the scene of an accident or collision. Whether or not you have fled the scene, it’s important to hire the best DUI attorney in Clearwater to handle your case. Your attorney will help you find the best defense, including proving that you were not intoxicated while driving or that you did not intend to flee. Depending on the circumstances, you may face criminal charges, fines, and jail time, so it’s critical to contact legal counsel immediately.

For a free consultation with one of the best DUI attorneys in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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DUI Crackdowns Due to the Super Bowl: What Are Your Rights?

DUI Crackdowns Due to the Super Bowl: What Are Your Rights?


The Super Bowl is an exciting time when many people choose to celebrate the game with parties, get-togethers, tailgates, and more. Unfortunately, because so many people spend the Super Bowl drinking alcohol, it is also often a time for law enforcement to crack down on DUIs by setting up checkpoints and stops. With the Super Bowl coming to Tampa in 2021, there is an expectation of even more officers on the road in Tampa and surrounding cities.

If you are pulled over for a DUI, it’s important to understand your rights in order to protect yourself from unwarranted arrests. In this brief article, DWI attorneys in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan share everything you need to know about DUI crackdowns as the Super Bowl approaches.

Related: Out of State DUI Offenders – What You Need to Know

Why Can Drivers Expect More Police Activity During the Super Bowl?

As mentioned earlier, the Super Bowl is a time for celebration. The last time the city of Tampa hosted a Super Bowl, over 300 private events happened in addition to the game itself. These celebrations often involve alcohol, especially for the city hosting the event and for the cities that have teams in the game. For this reason, police activity is often ramped up.

Another reason you can expect higher levels of police activity during the Super Bowl is because of the effort to curb other crimes, like illegal gambling, drug possession and trafficking, human trafficking, and theft — all of which may pose a higher risk during the event. As a result, drivers can expect checkpoints and tighter security during this time, including cameras, police in cars and on foot, and other methods of surveillance.

What Is Driving Under the Influence?

If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the consequences can be serious, ranging from steep fines and revocation of your driver’s license to community service and even a jail sentence. Even if you know for certain that you are within the legal limit or have not been drinking, you can be arrested by an officer if they have reasonable suspicion that you are not sober or you fail a breathalyzer or field sobriety test.

Related: What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop?

What Should You Do If Pulled Over for a DUI?

If you are pulled over for a DUI, remember that you have the right to remain silent. Keep your hands on the wheel and try to remain polite and non-combative. Provide your driver’s license and insurance information, but remember, do not get out of your car unless asked. Here are four tips to remember during this Super Bowl weekend if you are stopped for a DUI Investigation:

  1. Be polite. The fastest way to find yourself in the back of a police cruiser is being rude or disrespectful to the police. Even if you disagree with the officer’s decisions, make sure you don’t fail “the attitude test.”
  2. Be quiet. There is no reason to volunteer information to law enforcement. You have a fundamental right to remain silent when questioned by the police. Use it.
  3. Beware of field sobriety tests. The fact of the matter is – if you are being asked to walk a line or stand on one leg, the officer has likely made up his mind to arrest you. If you take the tests and perform poorly, this evidence will later be used against you. Aside from the complicated nature of the tests, the stress involved makes the tests that much more difficult to perform. Remember when Christina Aguilera screwed up the National Anthem during halftime of the Super Bowl? Stress effects performance.
  4. Be aware that a high breath test result will hurt your defense. The police are quick to tell you that you will lose your license for a minimum of one year if you fail to provide a breath sample. What they will conveniently forget to tell you is that if you provide a breath sample that is high, it will often make it difficult to secure a reduction in charge. Likewise, the penalties associated with a DUI go up if you provide a breath sample that is above .15 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of air.

Remember – the best offense is a good defense! In the event that you are pulled over for a DUI and arrested, you’ll want to contact the top DWI attorneys in Clearwater as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, you may be facing criminal charges, fines, and jail time, so it is critical to contact legal counsel immediately.

For a free consultation with top DWI attorneys in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Illegal in Florida?

Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Illegal in Florida?

With the changing laws regarding medical cannabis in Florida, it may be unclear whether it’s legal to drive while under the influence of medicinal marijuana. In a statewide survey conducted in early 2018, more than one in three (36.5 percent) respondents said they are “not at all knowledgeable” about legal issues related to marijuana use and driving in Florida. Overall, about two in three (65.7 percent) respondents correctly said it is true that driving under the influence of marijuana is always illegal in Florida. Nearly one in four (23.2 percent) respondents were unsure whether driving under the influence of marijuana is always illegal in Florida.

No matter the reason you are using medicinal marijuana, it’s important to be aware of the laws regarding operating a motor vehicle in order to avoid being charged with driving under the influence (DUI). If you have been pulled over for a DUI stop and are taken into custody, you have the right to contact the top DUI lawyers in Clearwater

Can You Be Charged with a DUI for Marijuana Use While Driving? 

In short, yes. You can be charged with a DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana — even if the marijuana is being used legally. Driving while impaired by drugs (even legal prescription drugs) is illegal and subject to the same penalties as driving while impaired by alcohol.

Penalties of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

In Florida, the typical punishment for a first-time DUI conviction includes suspension of your driver’s license, payment of a fine, completion of DUI School, and probation. Although there is no mandatory jail for a first time DUI conviction, the judge does have the discretion to impose a county jail sentence. In addition, you may be required to perform community service hours and/or have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. Jail sentences are mandatory for most multiple offenders. View an in-depth chart detailing the recent update to the mandatory minimum DUI penalties here.

Even if you feel that you are a safe driver while using marijuana, the police may still attempt to arrest you, so it is crucial to contact the best DUI lawyers in Clearwater as soon as possible. 

Why Should I Get a DUI Lawyer?

Whether you feel you were guilty of a DUI or not, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be well-versed in the best defense for your case, whether it’s discovering a procedural issue or arguing against the use of a field sobriety test. Your attorney will also help ensure that you meet all necessary deadlines. If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI, contact the top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car?

Can You Get a DWI in a Parked Car?

People often use driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) interchangeably, and the key that links both of these is the term “driving.” However, imagine for a moment that you are intoxicated and decide to sit in your vehicle with the engine running because it’s cold and you are hoping to warm up while calling a cab. Could you be arrested for a DWI in Florida just for sitting in your parked car?

The answer is complicated. In this post, the top DWI lawyers in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan discuss what you need to know about sitting in a parked car while under the influence. 

Operating vs. in Actual Physical Control

Although drunk parking is not a charge, you can be convicted of DWI or DUI if you are sitting in your parked vehicle while intoxicated. However, the prosecution still needs to prove the motorist was operating or in actual physical control of a vehicle. This means that both the police and the prosecutor must prove that you were either operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle. 

Actual physical control is satisfied if you are found inside the vehicle with the keys readily accessible and the capability to operate your vehicle. It is not necessary that you actually move the vehicle from one point to another. As a result, you can be charged with a DUI if you are found sitting or sleeping in your parked car and your car keys are located by law enforcement within the interior portions of your vehicle. 

In determining whether to make an arrest for DUI, the police will consider the “totality of the circumstances” in evaluating whether you were in “actual physical control.” Some factors that law enforcement will consider are::

  • The location of the driver: Was the alleged operator in the passenger seat or back seat? Were they in the driver’s seat leaned all the way back? This all matters, and what matters most is the proximity to the ignition. 
  • The location of the car: Was the car parked in your own driveway or a private parking lot? This is crucial because if the car was parked somewhere more dangerous, like the side of the highway or the middle of the sidewalk, it may be harder to prove that you were not operating the vehicle. 
  • The location of the keys: If the keys are in the ignition, this makes it more difficult to prove that you were not driving and had no intent to drive. Of course, this can be harder to prove with keyless entry or push-button ignition, but, in general, when the vehicle is running, it may be more difficult to prove your intent.
  • Whether the driver was awake or asleep: It’s pretty clear that you must be awake in order to operate a motor vehicle. If you are asleep, you may have an easier time providing that you were not driving at the time and were simply resting in your vehicle. 

Defenses for DWI in a Parked Vehicle

The best DWI attorneys in Clearwater have found that “actual physical control” cases tend to be weaker than those where the client was observed by law enforcement driving in a manner consistent with impairment, such as weaving, swerving, failing to maintain a single lane, or driving without headlights. However, whether you feel you were guilty of a DUI or DWI or not, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the best defense possible. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop

What Are Your Rights During a DUI Stop

If you are pulled over for a DUI stop, it can be incredibly stressful. Whether or not you are guilty, being pulled over can cause you to feel that you are doing something wrong, which can lead you to say or do things you might not normally do. During a traffic stop, you have rights and it is important to be aware of those rights in advance. Further, if you have been pulled over for a DUI stop and are taken into custody, you have the right to contact the best DUI lawyers in Clearwater

Right to Remain Silent

You may have heard people say “I plead the fifth” in reference to the fifth amendment, and in the case of a DUI you have the right to plead the fifth. The fifth amendment affords you the right to remain silent, even during a traffic stop. Often, when we are pulled over we feel the need to comply and overshare in order to prove our innocence, but police officers are analyzing and documenting everything you say and looking for any other possible violations. By asserting your right to silence, you are protecting yourself from accidentally creating future issues. 

Of course, in some cases a police officer might mistake your silence for non-compliance or hostility, so you don’t have to be completely silent. But, you do have the right to refuse to answer if you had any drinks or other substances. 

Right to Deny a Search of Your Vehicle

There is a common misconception in the State of Florida that you must consent to search of your vehicle if you are pulled over, however that is simply not the case. You have the right to deny a search of your vehicle without a search warrant. However, keep in mind that if you are arrested for a DUI offense, it is likely that the police have the lawful right to search your car to determine if there is any contraband related to the DUI within the vehicle.

Right to Decline a Field Sobriety Test

Just as you have the right to remain silent and deny a search of your vehicle, you have the right to decline a field sobriety test. These tests are inconclusive and unreliable at best, and are completely up to the officer’s discretion. Simply put, these tests would be difficult to perform if you were alone in your house. The pressure and stress of having to perform these tests as an audition for your freedom is likely to be overwhelming, and it’s unlikely that you will perform to the satisfaction of the police.

Do’s and Don’ts If You Are Pulled Over for a DUI

If you are pulled over for a DUI, there are a few simple do’s and don’ts to remember. Do: 

  • Keep your hands on the wheel when you are pulled over
  • Try to remain polite and non-combative 
  • Provide your driver’s license and insurance information. 

Do not: 

  • Get out of the car unless asked
  • Become argumentative or combative

When to Contact an Attorney

If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI, contact the top DUI lawyers Clearwater, with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible and to refrain from speaking to the police without a lawyer present. Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and help craft a defense, work on any potential plea bargains available, and will walk you through every step of the way. 

For a free consultation with top DUI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

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24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week

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What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in the state of Florida. You may have heard the terms DUI and DWI used interchangeably, but the result is the same: steep consequences. If you have been pulled over or charged with driving under the influence, it is important to speak with the best DWI attorneys in Clearwater. It is also important to understand the difference between a DUI and DWI and what the possible consequences are if you are charged and found guilty. 

Definitions of DUI and DWI in Florida

The state of Florida statutes chapter 316.193 states the following: 

(1) A person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence and is subject to punishment as provided in subsection (2) if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state and:

(a) The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired;

(b) The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or

(c) The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

In the state of Florida, driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is used interchangeably with the term driving under the influence, or DUI. Although other states have different penalties for DWI and DUI, the state of Florida does not make a distinction between the two. 

Consequences of DUI or DWI

The consequences of a DUI or DWI are steep in Florida. If convicted, first-time offenders face a fine between $500 and $1000 and imprisonment of up to 6 months. A second conviction may result in a 9 month imprisonment and $2000 fine as well as mandatory placement of an ignition interlock device at the convicted person’s expense. A third offense within 10 years is a felony of the third degree, which is punishable with more extensive imprisonment and fines. Further, whether it is the first offense or any subsequent offenses, your driver’s license will suspended or revoked if convicted. 

What You Should Do If Arrested for DUI/DWI

If you are pulled over or arrested for the DUI or DWI, contact the top DWI lawyers in Clearwater at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible and to refrain from speaking to the police without a lawyer present. Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and help craft a defense, work on any potential plea bargains available, and will walk you through every step of the way. 

For a free consultation with top DWI lawyers in Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303

Defense services for DUI and DWI offenses

FREE
CONSULTATION

24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week