Assistant Chief with Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrested for DUI in St. Johns County crash

April 22, 2013

A high-ranking assistant chief and 22-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was arrested last weekend for DUI following a crash on Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. Larry Jones was arrested on the misdemeanor driving under the influence charge and spent the night in jail before posting a $500 bond to get out, according to a television news report by News4Jax. Jones faces up to six months in jail if convicted or if he pleads guilty in this St. Johns County DUI Case. Jail time in a case like this is rare and more likely penalties include some sort of probation, fines and being required to attend a DUI panel and hear from the families of people whose loved ones were killed or injured by drunken drivers.

Jones was allegedly involved in a crash in the early-morning hours of April 20, the television station reported. No serious injuries were mentioned in the initial media reports following the arrest. Injuries are very important in a St. Johns DUI case like this. Not only are the charges enhanced if someone is injured, it also opens up the police's ability to collect evidence from the suspect. If people are injured in a suspected DUI crash, police can take a blood sample from the alleged driver and there's nothing the driver can do to stop them. In a traditional DUI, the driver has options. Now, all of those options will most likely land a person in jail for the night, but if there are signs of impairment that was likely to happen anyway. But the options could pay dividends down the road by limiting the potential evidence that can be used in trial.

Normally, a DUI investigation begins when an officer pulls a driver over for some sort of traffic violation. If the officer sees signs of impairment - odor of alcohol, slurred speech, red and watery eyes - he or she can start a DUI investigation and ask the driver to perform field sobriety exercises. The exercises are designed to test balance and impairment and, in many St. Johns County DUI cases, they are filmed from a dashboard camera in the patrol car. That means the video can be shown during a trial for a jury to see for itself. Sometimes that could help a client, other times it could destroy a St. Johns County DUI case. Following the exercises, or a driver's refusal to take them, the officer usually makes the call on whether to arrest the driver. If an arrest is made, the driver will be transported to jail and, once there, police will ask the driver to take a breath test. The test measures the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. In Florida and in most states, the legal limit is .08. That's about four beers, mixed drinks or glasses of wine for a person who weighs 200 pounds. The accuracy of the breath tests has been repeatedly questioned, though a poor result on the test will likely not look good in front of a jury. Refusing to take a breath test can result in a one-year driver's license suspension. The way the law is written, by agreeing to have a driver's license, a person provides consent to submit to blood and/or breath tests. There are certainly consequences either way and, whichever decision a driver makes, a St. Johns County DUI attorney can assess the evidence and determine the best way to move forward in the case.

If you or a loved one needs a DUI attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County DUI Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.