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ARRESTED FOR DUI IN ORLANDO?

Immediate Attention: Things You Must Know Right Now!

Have you been arrested for a DUI in the metro Orlando Area? There is some important information that you need to know to help protect YOUR rights! First, exercise your right to REMAIN SILENT by politely declining to answer any questions. This is perhaps the most unheeded piece of advice by people charged with Orlando area DUI infractions.

Next, prepare a journal. When you get home from jail, immediately write down everything you can remember about the events leading up to your arrest. Include events that occurred the day before your arrest, through the time you were released from jail. Every detail is important including what time you ate, what you ate, what time you went to sleep, what time you woke up, and all of your normal and usual activity that occurred during that time period. Make sure you also take detailed notes about your interaction with the police, from the moment you noticed them, until you were released from jail. Be as specific as possible and try to remember the exact words used by the police during your interactions at the roadside, at the breath test center, during any questioning, and while at the jail or police station.

If you had a valid Driver's License at the time you were arrested, you need to know that your DUI citation serves as your temporary Driver's License for 10 (ten) days. If you did not receive your DUI citation, immediately call the arresting officer's agency and tell them that you need a copy of your citation. You only have these 10 (ten) days to protect your driving privileges. Do not delay, you MUST act now. By hiring a qualified DUI attorney, you can, in most cases, receive a temporary driving permit. Your DUI citation lets you drive for any reason for the first ten days after arrest, until you get the temporary driving permit. Once you receive your temporary driving permit, you will only be permitted to drive for work, school, religious services, and medical appointments. Remember to always keep on hand any sort of documentation that is available to show that you are driving for a permitted reason, such as your school or work schedule. It is extremely important that you do not drive if you are not allowed to, as you could face additional penalties, fines, and driving suspensions. You could even face more jail time.

Do NOT give up! No matter how bad your case may appear to be, you may have viable defenses. A competent attorney who focuses on DUI defense can help pinpoint these defenses. Even if you took a "breath test", all hope is not lost. There are many ways a competent DUI attorney can fight the results on your behalf.


An Introduction to the Florida DUI Process

In Florida, and the Metro Orlando area, a DUI is actually two separate cases, an administrative case, and a criminal court case. You not only have to deal with the possibility of facing criminal penalties, you are also subjected to an administrative process dealing with your driver's license. With the administrative process, your immediate attention is required. When you were arrested, the officer should have taken your driver's license resulting in an immediate suspension of your driving privileges. If you took a breath test, your license is suspended for 6 months. If you refused the chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) for the first time, then your license is suspended for an entire 12 months. If you have previously refused a chemical test, then the suspension lasts 18 months.

The Administrative Process

When you were released from jail, you should have received a traffic citation for DUI and any other charges related to the alleged DUI incident. If you did not receive this citation, it is extremely important to call the agency that arrested you and obtain a copy of the citation. Without the citation, you cannot request your formal review hearing which allows you to fight back and potentially have your license suspension invalidated. Another critical reason that you must ensure that you receive your citation is that the citation serves as your only Driver's License for the first ten days following your arrest. During these ten days, you are permitted to drive without any driving restrictions.

Since your unrestricted driving privileges only last for 10 days, it is critical that you begin preparing for the journey ahead. The first step you should take is to find an experienced attorney whom you trust, one that is experienced in DUI defense, and who will fight to protect you and your rights. If your vehicle was towed, the next step is to quickly retrieve your car from impound. Then, request your Formal Review Hearing. You should also begin to figure out how you will get to places that are prohibited by a restricted driving permit.

Remember that you only have 10 days to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles Bureau of Administrative Reviews and request your Formal Review Hearing. If you hire an attorney, they can request a hearing on your behalf. If you have not hired an attorney, you may request a hearing on your own. To request your own Formal Review Hearing without an attorney, you must travel to the DMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews that serves the county in which you were arrested. Unfortunately, this office is not always in the county where the arrest occurred. For instance, the office that services Lake County is in Winter Springs, Seminole County, Florida. This is the ONLY place that you can request your hearing without the help of an attorney. To obtain this hearing, you must tell the DMV that you are requesting your Formal Review Hearing, give them a copy of your DUI citation, and pay a $25.00 fee. During this time, you will receive your temporary driving permit. If you hire an attorney, your attorney can complete all of these things on your behalf and save you another hassle in an already difficult situation.

You may have heard, either from friends, relatives, or even the officer who arrested you, that if you refuse to take the requested chemical test (usually the breath test), that you are automatically ineligible for a temporary driving permit. They are WRONG! The general public, and even some police officers are often misinformed about the law with regards to mandatory breath testing, and they pass this misinformation on to the people that they arrest. If you refused, it is important to contact a qualified attorney who specializes in DUI defense to determine your eligibility status.

Once you receive your temporary Driving Permit, you will only be permitted to operate a motor vehicle for work-related driving, driving for educational purposes, attendance at religious services, and for any medical appointments that you may have. If you have any questions as to whether an event qualifies as a permitted driving exception, you should ask your qualified and competent DUI attorney, or call the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Your temporary Driving Permit will only be valid for 42 days. During this time, the DMV will hold your Formal Review Hearing. If you win at this hearing, your license suspension will be invalidated, and you will regain your normal driving privileges. Should you be unsuccessful at your Formal Review Hearing, your driving privileges will remain suspended upon the expiration of your temporary Driving Permit. This suspension will last for either 30 days, or 90 days, and you will not be able to drive or operate a motor vehicle under any circumstance. Once this "hard" suspension is over, you may qualify for a hardship license which will let you drive for any or all of the reasons that your temporary permit allowed. Keep in mind that regardless of the outcome of your Formal Review Hearing, your DUI case will continue in the court system.

The Court Process
First Appearance

The process in the court system is vastly different from that of the Administrative Review system. If you are released from jail on bond before seeing a Judge, then you will not have a First Appearance Hearing. If you are not released from jail on bond before seeing a Judge, then you will have your First Appearance Hearing. The purpose of a First Appearance Hearing is to allow a Judge to review the arresting officers arrest affidavits, and to decide if they had probable cause to arrest you. If the Judge determines that there was no probable cause for your arrest, you will be released, but your case may continue. If the Judge decides that there was probable cause to arrest you (which they usually do), they will then set a reasonable bond, and potentially may even allow you to be released on your own recognizance. Often times, Judges will add conditions to a bond, such as weekly reporting to pre-trial services, or drug and alcohol testing. If you do not abide by any conditions set by the Judge, your bond may be revoked, and you could be returned to jail until the final disposition of your case.

Arraignment

Upon your release from jail, you were either given a date in which you must return to court, or you were told that one would be set and that you would be notified. This date is called your Arraignment. At your Arraignment, you will enter your plea. You will either say, "Guilty" which means you admit to the charges as alleged in the citation, "Not Guilty" which means that you deny the charges as alleged in your citation, or "No Contest" in which you do not admit guilt to the charges as alleged, but you do not deny the evidence against you. If you enter either a plea of Guilty or No Contest, then you will be sentenced at this hearing, and your court case will be closed. Only a plea of Not Guilty will allow you to fight the charges against you, or to negotiate a favorable outcome such as a non-DUI plea. If you hire a competent attorney who focuses in DUI defense, they will likely waive your arraignment and enter a plea of Not Guilty on your behalf. If you represent yourself, or if your attorney tells you that must appear, then you MUST appear. If you do not, a warrant for your arrested will typically be issued.

Plea Negotiation Conference (Lake County)

In some counties, such as Lake County, you may have a Plea Negotiation Conference after your arraignment. This is usually only available to you if you are represented by a competent DUI attorney. At the Plea Negotiation Conference, your competent DUI attorney will meet with the prosecutor and the Judge to discuss the facts of your case, the circumstances of your arrest, the prosecution's case against you, and your potential defenses. This allows both sides to attempt to negotiate a resolution before you go to trial.

Sentencing (Lake County)

While not required under Florida law, some counties will set another court date called Sentencing. Your sentencing date is usually held within 2 weeks of your Plea Negotiation Conference, if applicable in the county in which your case is pending. The purpose of the sentencing hearing is for you to enter a plea (much like at your arraignment) if a satisfactory resolution has been negotiated by your attorney and the prosecutor. Most Judges do not require the appearance of either you or your attorney at Sentencing unless you are actually entering a plea. Some Judges do not require you or your attorney's presence if you are not entering a plea. A competent attorney who Focuses on DUI defense will be able to advise you as to whether or not you will be required to appear at Sentencing.

Pre-Trial Conference

Regardless of whether the county where your charges are pending utilizes the Plea Negotiation Conference and Sentencing dates, you will be given a court date for a Pre-Trial Conference. Under Florida law, all counties are required to calendar this date at this stage of the process. The purpose of the pre-trial conference is to discuss what the next steps in your case will be. At the Pre-Trial Conference, your case may possibly be set for trial. Sometimes, the Court may grant a continuance in your case, which will postpone your trial date. A continuance may be requested by either side, and will only be granted for good cause.

Pre-Trial Hearings

If your case has not yet been resolved, you may also have one or more pre-trial hearings. Pre-trial hearings are held to determine the admissibility of the evidence against you. A skilled DUI defense attorney will file many motions on your behalf. Motions should be aimed at suppressing each and every piece of evidence the State intends to use against you. Pre-trial Motion work is one of the many things that separates a skilled DUI defense attorney. On average, your Orlando DUI Team attorney will file more than 25 motions if you refused the breath test and more than 30 motions if you took the breath test.

Trial

The final stage of your DUI case will be the trial. The case will be set for trial once all pre-trial work has been completed, and all motions have been heard. In Florida, you will have a Jury trial in your DUI case. A Jury trial is decided by six citizens who are present during the entire trial and decide whether the State has proved all charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. At trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. Both sides will be allowed to question their own witnesses, and to cross-examine the other side's witnesses. You also have the right to testify in your own defense at your trial. Your Orlando DUI Team can help you determine whether or not you should testify. After both sides finish presenting their cases and making their arguments, the Jury will deliberate and determine your guilt or innocence.

July 23, 2013

To Blow or Not To Blow – Should I Take The Breath Test

As a DUI practitioner, the most frequent question I am asked is, “should I take the breath test?” The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” First, it is important to know that under the ethics rules of the Florida Bar, an attorney cannot give advice to someone to break the law. By law, you are required to take the breath test if you have been lawfully arrested for DUI. Therefore, my answer is required to be, “yes, you should take the test.” However, even without the requirement that I answer yes, this would likely be my answer anyway.

If you refuse to take the breath test, the prosecutor will argue that the reason you did not take it is because you knew you were guilty and you did not want a jury to know “that number.” This is called consciousness of guilt. It is a strong argument for the prosecution. Of course, if you do not take the breath test, a skilled DUI Defense Attorney can counter that argument, but it is a persuasive argument for the other side.

If you do take the breath test, a skilled DUI Defense Attorney should be able to make numerous challenges to the admissibility of the test. In Florida currently, we are challenging the admissibility of the breath test based on machine errors, human errors, source code issues and non-compliance with the administrative rules that govern the procedures for breath testing.

In Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Lake Counties, we have successfully been able to keep breath test results out of our cases for many years. The battle over admissibility of results is still being fought in other counties throughout the state. The two most recent challenges are based on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s failure to follow the administrative rule. These will be discussed in the next two blogs.

If you are ever faced with the decision to take the test or refuse, remember that in Florida a first refusal is not a crime, however, your refusal to take the test can and will likely be used against you in court. If you refuse to take the test and you have previously refused to take it, you are committing a separate crime which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, even if you beat the DUI charge.

Blow or refuse, the choice is yours, however, with the right lawyer fighting for you, you may be better off taking the test. The results can only hurt you <u><strong>if a jury hears about them</strong></u>.

July 23, 2013

Traveling To Meet a Department Inspector – Violation of Breath Testing Rules

Florida used to have eight Department Inspectors traveling throughout their assigned part of the state to inspect Intoxilyzer 8000 breath testing machines. Each machine is required to be inspected at least once during a calendar year. The machines are also required to be tested if they are sent off to a repair facility, upon return, prior to being placed back into service.

Due to budget cuts, the State of Florida now employs only two Department Inspectors, both of whom are based in Tallahassee. These two Department Inspectors no longer travel throughout the state performing the required Department Inspections. Instead, the local agencies are packaging the Intoxilyzer 8000 up and shipping them to Tallahassee where the annual Department Inspection is being completed. The unit is then shipped back to the local agency and put back into service.

Unfortunately for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), this is a violation of the Florida Administrative code section regulating breath testing. Florida Administrative Code section 11D-8 requires a Department Inspection to be performed on the Intoxilyzer 8000 upon return from an authorized repair facility prior to it being placed back into service. FDLE is an authorized repair facility. Under the current system, the Intoxilyzer is being inspected before, not after return from the testing facility, making the inspection invalid and importantly, making the breath tests given on that instrument invalid.

An experienced and knowledgeable DUI Defense attorney can use this failure to follow the required rules for breath testing to keep the breath test results from being admitted into evidence against their clients.

July 23, 2013

Its Only a Hole – The Whole Hole Problem Explained

Florida decided to use the Intoxilyzer 8000 as the only acceptable breath test machine in 2002 after conducting an approval study as required by Florida Administrative Code. However, the same code required a new approval be done if the manufacturer made changes to the machine after approval.

During subsequent testing, the Intoxilyzer 8000 was producing results under what was expected. An engineer from CMI indicated that he knew what the problem was and the solution. The solution – drill a small hole in the check valve that releases gas from the sample chamber. This change immediately increased the results to the expect level, an increase of about .02 on each test.

Problem fixed, right? WRONG!!! First, Florida can only use a breath test machine which appears on the US Department of Transportation’s Conforming Products List (DOT CPL). To appear on this list, a machine must be tested. Subsequent to testing if the manufacture makes changes, these changes are required to be submitted in writing to the USDOT. CMI, the manufacture of the Intoxilyzer 8000 did not notify the USDOT of this change. Further, although some members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement knew of this change, a new approval study was not conducted on the modified machine.

Based on these two failures to follow the administrative code regulating breath testing, an experienced and knowledgeable DUI Defense practitioner may be able to keep the results of the client’s breath test from being admissible against them. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney who focuses on DUI Defense.

July 23, 2013

FHP Trooper Jailed for 5 days for Missing DUI Trial

The Orlando DUI Team has learned that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper has been jailed for five days after failing to appear in court last month for a DUI trial.

Trooper John Costa was sent to the county jail Friday for contempt of court by Judge Belle Schumann. In addition, Judge Schumann fined Trooper Costa $500.

Costa’s absence during an October 30th DUI Trial forced Judge Schumann to enter a judgment of acquittal on all charges for a motorist with an alleged history of drunk driving. This means that the driver will carry no punishment on her record for this charge.

Before dismissing the case, court workers apparently repeatedly tried to locate the Trooper, who did not answer telephone calls or knocks on the door of his home.

Reports show that Trooper Costa may be the first member of the Florida Highway Patrol jailed for contempt of court. Certainly, the Orlando DUI Team has not seen this type of action by the Court for a failure to appear by an officer.

It is not clear whether Trooper Costa was allowed to explain the reason why he failed to appear and the Orlando DUI Team will not speculate as to the potential ramifications on Trooper Costa’s career, however, it is apparent that both the Court and the Florida Highway Patrol are fully invested in the failure to appear at this particular DUI Trial.

The reaction may be increased by the nature of the DUI case, which allegedly involved a woman who was stopped for driving erratically at 92 miles per hour and who had taken a breath test which showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.192.

The state definition of intoxication for a driver is 0.08 and higher.

The Orlando DUI Team has learned that the driver was convicted of DUI in 2009. Because DUI offenses allegedly committed within a certain period of time together increase penalties, the dismissal of this charge is likely more alarming to the Court

According to Florida DUI laws, the driver would have faced up to a year in jail if convicted of a second DUI with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15. And she would have lost her driver’s license for five years for a second conviction within five years of her first.

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, whether it be DUI or any other criminal offense, please feel free to contact the Orlando DUI Team..

July 23, 2013

You have the right to remain silent !! Do you have the ability?

Everyday I sit down in my conference room with someone who has been arrested for DUI and hear virtually the same thing. The individual tells me that they were stopped, and eventually the officer asked them how much they had been drinking. Thinking if they cooperate, the officer will go easy on them, they admit to having consumed some quantity of alcohol. I often hear the phrases, “I wanted to be honest with them,” or “I didn’t want to lie.”

So first, understand that I am not advocating that you lie to the police when you speak with them. But you must understand that the officer standing by your window on the side of the road in the middle of the night is not stopping you to make a new friend. They are investigating a crime and attempting to gather evidence. You are not required to answer their questions beyond your name and address. If asked, you must provide your driver’s license, registration and insurance. That is it. Nothing else is required.

I am also not suggesting that you be rude to the officer. Simply state that you decline to answer any questions you are not legally required to answer and do not wish to speak with the officer. Tell them you will only speak with them with your lawyer present and do not say anything else. Sure the officer may arrest you, but at least you have not helped them convict you of a crime.

DUI is a serious offense. Alcohol is known to loosen lips. People often say things that will hurt their case later on. Do not help the police convict you. You have the right to remain silent. Use it.

July 23, 2013

Temporary Driving Permits – What are they good for?

Arrested for DUI in Florida? Did you have a valid driver’s license at the time of arrest? If so, you may be eligible to continue to drive. When I speak with someone who has just been released from jail for a DUI arrest, they often believe that because the officer took their driver’s license when they were arrested, that they cannot drive. This is simply untrue. In most cases, the citation that you receive for DUI when arrested becomes your driver’s license for the first ten days after arrest. Using it, you can drive for any reason at all. To ensure you are eligible to drive using your ticket, give us a call or contact the DMV.

During the first ten days after arrest, you must request a Formal Review Hearing. When you make that request, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Administrative Reviews will issue you a Temporary Driver’s Permit. It is very important to know that this is a restricted license. You can use it only for four purposes: 1) Driving yourself to work; 2) Driving yourself to school; 3) Driving yourself to necessary medical appointments; 4) Driving yourself to religious services.

Many times I meet with people who have been to see other attorneys before coming to see me. They often tell me that another attorney told them they could use their permit to buy groceries. This is unfortunately bad information that could lead to the driver’s arrest.

The problem is that the statute specifically lists the four uses above and nothing else. There is no list giving detailed guidance on what is allowed and what is not allowed, therefore, the safest alternative is to stick to the driving specifically listed in the statute.

If you drive for any reason other then the four reasons listed above using a Temporary Driving Permit, you risk arrest.

Should you choose to drive using your permit for the reasons above, you should do everything in your power to help the officer believe that you are driving for a permitted purpose. For example, carry a copy of your work schedule, and have a supervisor’s phone number that the officer can call to verify that you are in fact on your way to or from work. If you are a student, carry a copy of your school schedule. The easier you make it for the officer to believe you, the less likely you are to be wrongfully arrested.

July 23, 2013

DUI Awareness Campaign Begins

A new DUI awareness campaign has begun in Florida. “Be Ready For The Road Ahead” is sponsored by the Florida Association of DUI Programs. The focus of the program will be to encourage children to develop safe driving habits according to WJHG channel 7. Channel 7′s online story can be found at: <a href=”http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/DUI-Awareness-Campaign-Starts-in-Florida-181253111.html”>http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/DUI-Awareness-Campaign-Starts-in-Florida-181253111.html</a>.
This campaign is not only an effort to teach kids not to drink and drive, but also about the dangers of texting an driving, which has been shown to be a rising cause of automobile related accidents and deaths.
In addition to discouraging people from drinking and driving, the program will primarily use billboard advertising to remind people to use responsible driving habits and to pull-over before you text.
The <a href=”http://www.orlandocriminalteam.com/dui-defense-attorney/”>Orlando DUI Team</a> also wants to remind all drivers to drive safely and responsibly. Floridians should know that in general during awareness campaigns enforcement efforts are also increased and the risk of being arrested for DUI increases.
If you are arrested for DUI, even if no one is injured, the financial and social consequences can be devastating. The increased awareness and enforcement of DUI laws can also lead to the arrest of those who are not impaired, but for instance, those who had only a glass of wine with dinner. Often, especially during awareness and enforcement campaigns, the odor of alcohol on your breath is enough to get you arrested.
If you are arrested for DUI during this awareness campaign, or at any time, give us a call. We can help you through this ordeal.

July 23, 2013

DUI on Federal Land – A Federal Crime

Florida is home to many popular tourist attractions, among them are 11 National Parks or Preserves administered by the National Parks Service. These parks include the Everglades, Dry Tortuga, and Biscayne to name a few. Sometimes visitors to these areas consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car. A DUI on Federal land administered by the National Parks Service is not governed by local laws and penalties. DUI is a class B Federal Misdemeanor and as such is exempt from federal sentencing guidelines. You can face up to six months in a federal prison as well as up to $5,000 in fines. A Judge can also order probation for up to 5 years.
There are also implied consent laws that apply on Federal Land administered by the National Park Services. Refusal to take a breath, blood or urine test may be admissible in judicial proceedings and is a violation of Federal Law, which can be prosecuted separately as a second charge with punishment ranging up to six months in prison.

It is important to know that not every local attorney may be able to help you. You will need to find an attorney who is admitted to practice in Federal Court.

Other important differences:
1. In state court you are entitled to a jury trial. In Federal Court a DUI is handled by a Judge without a jury.
2. A conviction will be documented on your federal criminal record.
3. The only way you can expunge a Federal DUI from your record is if you receive a pardon from the President.

If you receive a DUI on Federal Land, call our Federally admitted DUI attorneys for help. We will be happy to assist you. .

July 23, 2013

New Florida DUI Laws Give Drivers a Choice

This month a large number of new laws went into effect in Florida. Several of these laws make changes in how DUI cases are handled, and show promise for drivers who stand accused. For example, it’s now easier to force a subpoenaed police officer to appear at review hearings, or even get driving privileges restored if they refuse to show up. But the biggest change gives first-time DUI defendants a choice – one that may allow them to keep driving.

The state of Florida, like most states, mandates that when you get behind the wheel, you are agreeing to take a breathalyzer or blood test anytime a police officer pulls you over. In other words, it’s illegal to refuse testing. That comes uncomfortably close to forcing you to incriminate yourself, but if you refuse the test your license is automatically suspended – and the suspension stands even if you’re later found not guilty at trial.

Of course, most drivers who refused the test would then challenge that suspension on various grounds. Often these challenges are unsuccessful, but they’re handled separately from the criminal case and they cost the state a lot of time and money. So the new Florida law attempts to sweeten the deal and discourage drivers from challenging the suspension.

It’s still required to take a blood, breath or urine test, but now – for first-time DUI charges – if you waive your right to challenge the suspension, you can immediately get a “hardship” driving permit. This restores at least part of your driving privileges, even while your license is technically suspended, the very next day – so you can go to work and keep your life on track.

This is a huge change: Under the old law, if you lost your formal review hearing, you weren’t even eligible for a hardship permit until 90 days of no driving what so ever had gone by.

This law was passed to reduce the number of challenges to suspended licenses, easing the burden on the review process. But it has a potential benefit for drivers: If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI, and arrested, at the very least, you can ensure that you will be able to continue to drive for work purposes. In the past, many arrestees lost their jobs because they could not drive.

As knowledge of the new law spreads, an unintended side effect may occur. More people may refuse to take the test. In the past, the suspension of your driving privilege was far worse if you refused the test than if you took it. If you refused, as stated above, you would have a one year suspension with the first 90 days of no driving whatsoever. If you took the test and blew above a .08, you would have a 6 month suspension, which began with 30 days of no driving. Although the refusal still carries a longer suspension, neither now require a period of no driving, if you waive your right to a hearing. A driver may now choose to deprive the state of this key piece of evidence because they will have no period of hard suspension (no driving).

Of course, there is a down side to the new law. Drivers who waive their right to a hearing so as not to risk the period of no driving are giving up their right to challenge the suspension. If you waive your right to a hearing, the suspension will appear on your driving record forever. If you challenge the suspension and win, it will be removed from your driving record. By waiving your right to a hearing, you are giving up the opportunity to have a trained DUI lawyer fight the suspension and the opportunity to have a clean driving record.

(Note that this applies only to first-time DUI arrests: If you’ve been charged with DUI before, it’s vital that you submit to the test when the officers ask you to. Refusing is a criminal charge if you have previously refused to take a lawful test of your breath, blood, or urine, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.)

November 19, 2012

FHP Trooper Jailed for 5 days for Missing DUI Trial

The Orlando DUI Team has learned that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper has been jailed for five days after failing to appear in court last month for a DUI trial.

Trooper John Costa was sent to the county jail Friday for contempt of court by Judge Belle Schumann. In addition, Judge Schumann fined Trooper Costa $500.

Costa’s absence during an October 30th DUI Trial forced Judge Schumann to enter a judgment of acquittal on all charges for a motorist with an alleged history of drunk driving. This means that the driver will carry no punishment on her record for this charge.

Before dismissing the case, court workers apparently repeatedly tried to locate the Trooper, who did not answer telephone calls or knocks on the door of his home.

Reports show that Trooper Costa may be the first member of the Florida Highway Patrol jailed for contempt of court. Certainly, the Orlando DUI Team has not seen this type of action by the Court for a failure to appear by an officer.

It is not clear whether Trooper Costa was allowed to explain the reason why he failed to appear and the Orlando DUI Team will not speculate as to the potential ramifications on Trooper Costa’s career, however, it is apparent that both the Court and the Florida Highway Patrol are fully invested in the failure to appear at this particular DUI Trial.

The reaction may be increased by the nature of the DUI case, which allegedly involved a woman who was stopped for driving erratically at 92 miles per hour and who had taken a breath test which showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.192.

The state definition of intoxication for a driver is 0.08 and higher.

The Orlando DUI Team has learned that the driver was convicted of DUI in 2009. Because DUI offenses allegedly committed within a certain period of time together increase penalties, the dismissal of this charge is likely more alarming to the Court

According to Florida DUI laws, the driver would have faced up to a year in jail if convicted of a second DUI with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15. And she would have lost her driver’s license for five years for a second conviction within five years of her first.

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, whether it be DUI or any other criminal offense, please feel free to contact the Orlando DUI Team.