A New Bill in Florida Requires an Ignition Interlock for First Time DUI Offenders

dui ignition interlockIn a recent attempt to crack down on driving under the influence (DUI), a new bill (HB949) has just passed the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the Florida House of Representatives. If passed, this bill will require all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. While it still needs to pass through two more committees before making it to the House floor, it is important to know what this bill will mean for you.

Court Requirements

While all 50 states have some sort of ignition interlock requirement for repeat offenders, 28 other states currently have laws similar to HB949.  At this time, under Florida law, first time DUI offenders are only required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than .15{7dff60334df83244b79b5471a8769907d27e202ac622cbe5ff51878e61595e62}, if there was a minor in the vehicle, or if it has been court-ordered. Repeat offenders are required to install the device, no matter their BAC. This new bill will make it mandatory for all first-time offenders to install the ignition interlock device for a least six months after their conviction.  Legislators hope that this bill will prevent first time offenders from repeating.

What are Ignition Interlock Devices?

An ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer plugged into a vehicle. The driver must breathe into the device in order to start the vehicle. The device will then beep five minutes later, as a reminder to breathe into it again. The driver must retest every half hour. The data will be recorded and sent to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, and will then be accessible online. The device itself costs $70 to install, requires monthly calibration at a specific facility, which will cost $67, along with a $100 safety deposit. If the offender cannot afford it, the court can order part of the offender’s fine to cover the expenses.

If you, or a loved one, is facing a DUI charge, our lawyers at McIntyre Thanasides can help you. Experienced in Florida DUI law, our criminal defense attorneys will fight for your case, whether you are a first-time or a repeat offender. Have you been pulled over and faced with the decision to blow or not to blow into a breathalyzer? Our lawyers can advise you on how to proceed. Contact us today for a consultation at (844)511-4800.

Florida Woman’s Arrest Demonstrates Social Media and Drunk Driving Do Not Mix

DUI_carA 23 year-old Lakeland woman live-streamed herself as she was drunk driving home from a bar on Saturday night. Numerous calls were placed to the Lakeland Police Department regarding a possible drunk driver from users of an app called Periscope. Whitney Beall was said to have broadcast the events of her evening using the app, including her frightening drive home, where she was said to have been speeding, swerving and running off the road. The app is a live video streaming platform that allows you to record and broadcast to all parts of the world. Some app users even direct-messaged Beall asking her to please stop driving before she hurt someone.

While broadcasting herself, Beall said, “I’m driving home drunk, let’s see if I get a DUI. I don’t think I will.” Officers were able to identify Beall’s whereabouts from locations shown on her live video stream and she was arrested and charged with DUI.

Beall’s arrest is part of a growing trend of law enforcement monitoring social media for people who may be violating the law. Police are now using social media more and more with respect to criminal cases. In fact, LexisNexis found that 4 out of 5 police officers say they rely on social media to aid in investigations.

According to the survey, law enforcement officials are using social media as follows:

  • 78 percent expect to increase their social media usage in the next year
  • 82 percent think monitoring is valuable for investigations
  • 67 percent use social media platforms to anticipate crimes
  • 73 percent believe monitoring helps solve investigations more quickly
  • 93 percent of police departments use Facebook and 67 percent monitor YouTube
  • Twitter usage increased to 50 percent from 29 percent in 2012

Police officers find social media monitoring to be a useful tool in that it allows them to obtain real-time data and potentially prevent a crime before it occurs or track a suspect following criminal activity. Digital trails are becoming an increasingly popular way of locating individuals. For example, In May, a man was charged with robbing a bank in Virginia after he posted a picture on Instagram of a note he gave to a teller during the incident.

Beall’s Periscope incident is just another example of how law enforcement can use social media platforms to track alleged criminals. Thankfully in this case no one was hurt. If you have questions related to Florida DUI, contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A.

Faulty DUI Test Results in Wrongful Drunk Driving Convictions

When Florida police stop a driver that they suspect of drunk driving they conduct a sobriety test on site. Conducting more than one test may become more important in Florida because problems associated with breathalyzers in Florida have potentially led to faulty convictions.

The sobriety test typically comes in three different forms. In one test the police have the driver stand on one leg or walk in a straight line and turn. This allows the police to assess the driver’s balance and motor skills. In another test officers use a flashlight to observe the involuntary twitching of a driver’s eye, called the horizontal gaze nystagmus. If the driver is intoxicated, the twitch occurs at duller peripheral angles than normal. In the third test, the police administer a breath test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol level. In Florida the legal limit is .08.

The breath test has stemmed some controversy in Florida, however, because the machine that police use to test a driver’s blood alcohol level – the Intoxilyzer 8000 – gives faulty readings about 40 percent of the time. As a consequence, sober drivers have been getting convicted of drunk driving based on faulty results. For that reason a number of Florida counties announced that they will not use the results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test machine as evidence in DUI cases.
Florida drivers convicted of a DUI face the following possible penalties:

  • Fine
  • Jail time
  • Suspension of drivers license
  • Community service
  • Vehicle impoundment

Beyond court mandated penalties, there are a number of other consequences of a Florida DUI conviction. Drivers who do not get their drivers licenses suspended face a potential increase in their car insurance premiums. Drivers that do get their licenses suspended have to resort to alternative means of transportation, such as public transportation. Those who live in areas beyond the reach of public transportation face the threat of lost employment if they have no other way to get a ride to work.

Source: Law Firm Newswire, “Florida Drivers Arrested for DUI Due to Malfunctioning Alcohol Test”, April 25, 2012

Florida DUI, The Consequences

Florida has been increasing DUI patrols and enforcement efforts, trying to make our roads and highways safer. This increased DUI enforcement makes a DUI charge even more serious and costly. Just because you get pulled over and charged with DUI does not mean you are actually guilty of DUI. If you are charged with the crime of DUI, an attorney is essential to successfully navigating your way through the complicated charges.

No matter the circumstances of a DUI charge, you should never seek to represent yourself. The ramifications are serious and will be part of your personal and business credentials in many respects for many years. A skilled and seasoned DUI defense lawyer is essential to addressing and minimizing the many issues which flow from a DUI charge and conviction.

From a criminal law perspective, on your first offense, if convicted you will be assessed a significant fine, up to six months in jail and possibly a six month motor vehicle license suspension. As part of a sentence, there may be required alcohol treatment classes, community service hours and a period of probation. The fines and sanctions on a second offense increase dramatically and at the second offense, the DUI charge is considered a felony with a mandatory prison sentence.

From a financial standpoint, you will have to retain proper and experienced legal counsel. Most lawyers will work with clients in setting and paying the retainer. If you are employed and your present employer finds out about your conviction, you may be relieved of your position in favor of a lesser paying one or you may be released from employment. If you are currently seeking a job, you may not be considered for the position when the DUI is found on a routine background check. If you are in the middle of a military or law enforcement career, you may no longer be able to proceed. If security clearance is part of your position, you may face a reduction in your clearance status. A large challenge for DUI offenders is getting and paying for automobile insurance after a DUI conviction.
For each of these issues, good, solid legal representation will help you find your way through the legal labyrinth of a DUI charge. Your lawyer will make certain that your due process rights are protected and make sure that only competent legal evidence will be submitted to the Judge or Jury so you are not wrongfully convicted of a crime you were not guilty of. Innocent or guilty, a lawyer is an indispensable necessity when facing a DUI charge.