Articles Posted in DUI – Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville

Jacksonville police charged a man this month with various felony DUI charges in connection with a 2012 crash that killed one of his passengers and injured himself and two others.  The driver is accused of driving his SUV into a guardrail in December 2012 and then rolling the vehicle several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The passenger riding in the front seat died days after the crash and the driver and two others in the car were seriously injured. The driver is now charged with vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, DUI causing serious injury, DUI with property damage and driving with a suspended license.

In many serious Jacksonville DUI Cases were someone is killed or seriously injured, there can be a lengthy delay from the time of the crash until the time charges are filed. But that delay is typically six to nine months, rather than more than two-and-a-half years. Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told the newspaper the delay was because police were waiting on several pieces of evidence to be analyzed by the department. In most Jacksonville DUI Cases such as this one, police are waiting for blood results to come back. When there are injuries in a Jacksonville DUI Case, police can take blood without the driver’s consent – unlike a standard DUI with a breath test.

In this case, it appears the driver was injured to the point he would not have been able to provide consent anyway, so the issue would have been moot.  Police likely could have easily proceeded with some of the other charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case, but likely wanted to proceed with all of them at one time. Many of the charges here are felonies, including vehicular homicide, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. DUI manslaughter is also a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. While all charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case are serious, the DUI Manslaughter charge carries a four-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Unlike most prison sentences in which the defendant can be released after serving 85 percent of the sentence, every single day of a minimum mandatory sentence must be served.  DUI causing serious bodily injury is also a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison. The remaining DUI charges are misdemeanors, which is what most Jacksonville DUI Charges are. But, when serious injuries or deaths occur, the penalties increase severely.

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

Jacksonville Beach police put additional patrols from their department and neighboring agencies on the streets in a 20-hour crackdown on traffic violations and DUIs.  The result was four DUIs arrests and 271 traffic tickets in a span from 7 a.m. on a Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the special enforcement was part of an ongoing effort to reduce unsafe driving and DUIs on major roads in the beaches communities.  In many Jacksonville Traffic Cases like this, police will set up a checkpoint. That’s where every driver has to stop and police check a variety of things with the car, including headlights, brake lights and turn signals. An officer will also speak with the driver, just long enough to know if the person may be impaired or emits an odor of alcoholic beverages. In many cases, police announce the checkpoints in advance as a way to caution drivers and put them on notice not to drink and drive.

In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, it appears police didn’t use a checkpoint, but instead just flooded the area with police who were looking for nothing but traffic violations. In reality, if police were specifically always focused on writing traffic tickets, they could write them all day long. And while traffic tickets are minor compared to a DUI or other Jacksonville Criminal Cases, they can add up in terms of cost and inconvenience if a driver is not careful. Traffic tickets are scored on a points system and, as they add up, they can result in a license suspension. Most speeding tickets are three points, though the punishment can vary depending on the speed and circumstances of the ticket. Tickets for reckless driving carry four points and leaving the scene of an accident are six points. The points can add up as follows:

12 points in a year: 30-day license suspension
18 points in 18 months: 3-month suspension
24 points in three years: 1-year suspension

Traffic tickets can have major consequences when they add up to a license suspension that can hamper a person’s ability to drive and get to and from work. Not to mention the fines and court costs, along with the likelihood that car insurance rates likely rise once the tickets hit a person’s driving record.  But, in many Jacksonville Traffic Cases, points or fines can be reduced with the help of a Jacksonville Traffic Attorney. Remember that by simply paying the ticket, you are admitting guilt and accepting the points on your license. Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents people on a variety of moving violations and can examine your case and assess the situation with points and fines.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Georgia man who told police he has three prior DUI arrests was arrested and charged this month for his role in a Jacksonville crash that critically injured a 19-year-old motorcyclist.  Police said the driver was turning left into an apartment complex when he did not stop for a motorcycle that ran into the front of his car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver stopped momentarily, started walking toward the injured motorcyclist, then came back to the car and drove off into the complex, the newspaper reported.

Police later found the driver walking in the apartment complex and said he had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, the newspaper reported. Police had to get a warrant to take a blood sample from him because he initially refused. In Jacksonville DUI Cases involving a serious injury, drivers do not have a choice in giving a blood sample. If they do initially refuse, police can quickly obtain a warrant and get it done that way. When drivers agree to a Florida driver’s license, they agree to give a blood draw if police suspect alcohol or drug use in a crash where someone – even the driver – is seriously injured.

In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the man is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a serious injury and not rendering aid to the victim. That charge is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The Florida Legislature made a change to the penalties in 2014, increasing the charge from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. The crime previously had a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The new law also strengthened minimum mandatory sentences in hit-and-run cases when people are killed.  One point to note in this Jacksonville DUI Case: Technically, the driver has yet to be charged with the DUI portion of the crime. When blood is drawn for cases like this, typically the results take six to nine months to return from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. In cases where the driver did not leave the scene, there likely wouldn’t be any charges at all until lab results returned. In this Jacksonville Felony Case, the man can already be charged with a second-degree felony without the blood test, and he has shown a propensity to flee. The case will likely not resolve until those blood test results are back, though that could change in negotiations between the state and the defense.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with DUI and knows the specific procedures police must follow in these cases. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly review and investigate your case to make sure every aspect of the law was followed.

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

A Clay County man was arrested and booked on three charges this week, all stemming from a June traffic crash that killed a 24-year-old man.  The driver was accused of driving into a man who was walking his bicycle across an intersection, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This month, he was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI causing property damage and DUI. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. DUI and DUI causing property damage are both misdemeanors and all punishment in misdemeanor cases would be in the county jail, not in state prison. Punishment guidelines in standard Clay County DUI Cases are based on the number of previous DUI convictions or guilty pleas the person has on his or her criminal record.

The charge to be concerned about in this Clay County DUI Case is clearly the DUI manslaughter. Not just because it is a felony, but because it also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. In some Clay County Felony Cases, the state will waive the minimum mandatory as part of a plea agreement but, once the case goes to trial, it’s out of everyone’s hands – including the judge. The defendant in this Clay County DUI Case is now out on bail and likely knew he would eventually be charged with serious felonies in this case.

Even though the crash occurred in June, it is not uncommon for it to take several months, including close to a year, for charges to come. In cases where there is a serious injury or a death, police can take a blood sample from the driver without the driver having to consent. This is different than a regular DUI case where the driver can refuse to take a breath test – though are still penalties that apply. A blood test is mandatory in cases with an injury. The results often take between six to nine months to come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. While a breath test could have been taken at the scene to prove the misdemeanor DUI, it makes sense in cases like this for the state to wait for the blood test and charge the entire case at once. Breath tests are often successfully contested in front of juries in some Clay County DUI Cases, but blood test results are generally viewed as significantly more reliable.  Our Clay County DUI Attorney is well-versed in the policies and procedures police must follow when making a DUI arrest and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to make sure those standards were followed.

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

A motorcyclist was arrested this month on two serious felonies, charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in an August crash that killed a pedestrian.  The driver is accused of going between 70 and 80 mph on a road with a 30 mph speed limit, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A 23-year-old pedestrian, who police think was trying to cross the unlit road, was hit and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver was also injured in the crash and had a blood-alcohol level of .089 and .091 on two tests – above the legal limit of .08 on both.

Vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter are both second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In both cases, the charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the driver leaves the scene without rendering aid, which did not appear to be the case in this Clay County Traffic Case. So, in this Clay County DUI Case, the man is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted on both counts and sentenced consecutively. And while the two charges seem identical, there are differences – the major one related to sentencing. A conviction in a DUI manslaughter case comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. The vehicular homicide case does not have a minimum mandatory sentence attached to it. The elements needed to prove the crime are different, too. In vehicular homicide, the state has to prove the driver was reckless when he or she caused the accident. For DUI manslaughter, all that must be proven is the driver was intoxicated and caused, at least in part, the accident.

In many Clay County Traffic Cases, defendants do not have a lengthy criminal record prior to the arrest, different from what you may see when someone is arrested on a Clay County Drug Charge. That can make a four-year minimum mandatory sentence the impetus for a defendant to get working on a plea agreement. In this Clay County Felony Case, while the driver doesn’t have serious charges on his record, the newspaper reported the 27-year-old had 36 traffic citations over the past 10 years. Those would not be part of the evidence should this Clay County Traffic Case end up going to trial – the information would not be presented to a jury. However, a person’s record is relevant and known to the prosecutors and the judge, and will be part of the consideration in terms of any plea negotiations or sentencing from the judge if the driver chooses to plead guilty without a deal in hand from the state.  Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people with minor criminal records who suddenly find themselves facing serious prison time. Our Clay County DUI Attorney can thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and explain all of the consequences so you can make an informed decision going forward.

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

Nearly two years after a pedestrian was hit and killed in Nassau County, a woman has been charged with DUI manslaughter in connection with his death. The woman was arrested this month and charged with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident causing death, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. At the time of the crash, the driver fled the scene of the accident, but later drove back by while the investigation was ongoing, the newspaper report. Police stopped the vehicle then and were able to use it as evidence in the case, the newspaper reported.

DUI Manslaughter is normally a second-degree felony, but because the driver is accused of leaving the scene of the accident, it can be charged as a first-degree felony. That increases her prison time exposure on this charge from 15 years to 30 years. The bottom end of the sentencing is also a serious problem for the defendant in this Nassau County DUI case. DUI Manslaughter charges have a minimum mandatory prison sentence of four years in prison – as do leaving the scene of an accident. If the charges are not ultimately combined, the driver could be looking at a minimum of eight years in state prison.

Typically, in Nassau County DUI Cases like this where a person is killed, charges will come four to six months later, once the toxicology results come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that would confirm the driver was impaired. This delay from the April 2013 crash to the charges in February 2015 is certainly longer than usual – which brings into question how much evidence the state has in this Nassau County DUI Case. It’s unclear whether the woman was arrested at the scene for DUI that night. That would have been the point where police have some ability to prove the driver was intoxicated. When drivers are involved in an accident with injuries and alcohol is suspected to be a factor, police can take blood to determine exactly the amount of alcohol in the drivers’ system. While drivers have the right to refuse a breath test or field sobriety test if they are pulled over for DUI, that right is gone when injuries are involved. Blood tests are also seen as being more accurate, which are tougher to argue against at trial.

There are very specific rules and procedures police must follow when making arrests in Nassau County DUI Cases. Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney is well-versed in DUI procedures and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to ensure all of those policies were followed to the letter of the law.

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

A man with three previous DUIs is charged with multiple felonies for a crashing into a stalled car and injuring two teens trying to push the car off the road. The teens, 14 and 17, were both injured in the crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The car had run out of gas and the teens were trying to push the car to the shoulder when the defendant hit them, pinning one under the car and sending the other off the road, the newspaper reported. The driver and the other passenger in the car had minor injuries, the newspaper reported.

The man is facing several charges, including DUI causing serious bodily injury, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Because he has a history of DUI convictions, according to the newspaper, his DUI itself is a felony – regardless of whether anyone was hurt. DUI penalties increase when people have a criminal history that includes DUI convictions. For example, for a first DUI, penalties include a fine between $500 and $1,000 with up to six months in county jail. The second conviction bumps the limits to a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 with a maximum jail sentence of nine months in jail. Now for a third Jacksonville DUI Charge within 10 years, the fine is between $2,000 and $5,000 with up to a year in county jail. All of these charges also come with punishments that include driver’s license suspension and, once the person can drive again, may also include installation of a device that does not allow the vehicle to start until a person blows into the device that screens for alcohol.

When it comes to a fourth DUI, the length of time does not matter. The charge is a third-degree felony, even if the last conviction had been 25 years prior. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the man had two convictions in the 1980s and a third in 1995, the newspaper reported. His license was suspended five years for the second conviction and then for 10 years after the third, the newspaper reported. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the man is now facing up to 10 years in prison – five years on each of the third-degree felonies. The escalating penalties are based on conviction and guilty pleas – not simply arrests. This is another example of why just pleading guilty at first appearance court can have long-term consequences, despite making an arrest more complicated in the short-term. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney has represented hundreds of people accused of DUI and will thoroughly review your case to make sure the detailed procedures for a DUI arrest were followed properly in the case against you or your loved one.

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

A Clay County woman was charged this month with two counts of DUI manslaughter for her role in a November crash that killed one passenger and the unborn child of another woman riding in her car. Police said she was going 66 mph on a Jacksonville road with a 40 mph speed limit and went over the median, hitting several trees, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One passenger in the backseat was killed, the newspaper reported. The woman riding in the front seat was five-months pregnant and lost her unborn child as a result of the crash, according to the newspaper report.

The defendant in this Jacksonville DUI Case is charged with two counts of DUI Manslaughter. DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In DUI Manslaughter cases, an unborn child is treated the same as a person who is killed in the accident. From a sentencing standpoint, state law requires a four-year minimum mandatory sentence on each count, so the defendant in this Jacksonville DUI Case is likely to serve at least eight years in prison if she pleads guilty to or is convicted of both counts. She is also charged with DUI causing injury for the front-seat passenger, a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison.

The driver was also injured and taken to the hospital following the crash, the newspaper reported. At the hospital, her blood-alcohol level was .25 – more than three times the legal limit of .08. Because the crash involved injuries, the driver does not have to consent for her blood to be taken and tested for alcohol. This is different than in an ordinary Jacksonville DUI Case where a person is pulled over by a police officer and the DUI investigation begins. There are penalties for refusing to take a breath test, but the driver does have the legal right to refuse in those instances. In Jacksonville DUI Cases where there is a death or serious injury, charges typically come two to three months after the crash. That’s due to the length of time it takes for the blood test results to come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Penalties in Jacksonville DUI Cases increase significantly when the crash results in someone being injured or killed. For example, a typical DUI is a misdemeanor with the maximum penalty being six months in jail – though jail sentences are highly unusual in those types of Jacksonville DUI Cases. DUI Manslaughter Cases often involve people who don’t have a criminal background. In this case, the 21-year-old driver does not have a criminal record, but is now facing up to 35 years in prison – likely with a minimum of eight years behind bars.

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

A high-ranking official with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue department has been reassigned following his arrest on a DUI charge. Police found the man behind the wheel of a car in a ditch in Clay County, according to a report from First Coast News. The crash came after reports of a man weaving in and out of traffic and, when police arrived, they found an open bottle of vodka on the seat, the television station reported. Police said the man’s eyes were “glassy and bloodshot” and that he struggled with field sobriety exercises. The man’s blood-alcohol levels from two separate tests were .313 and .339 – well above the legal limit of .08. As is the case with most public officials, he has been put on desk duty until the case resolves.

The man was charged with DUI, a misdemeanor typically punishable by up to six months in jail. However, there is a clause in state law for Clay County DUI Cases such as this where the blood-alcohol level is more than .15. In this case, the maximum penalty rises to nine months in jail and the fines jumps from between $500 and $1,000 to between $1,000 and $2,000. While every case is different, DUI cases can really be looked at it in two categories: DUIs that begin with a traffic stop and those that start with a traffic accident. In this Clay County DUI Case, police are already investigating the accident and come across a driver that appears to be intoxicated. There aren’t many choices or decisions to be made at that point from a drivers’ perspective. The driver did agree to perform field sobriety exercises, the television station reported, and the results at least partially led to his arrest.

In Clay County DUI Cases with a traffic stop, there are even more procedures that must be followed precisely for the arrest to be legal. First, an officer must have a reason to pull a driver over – typically it is for speeding, not staying in a lane, having a burned out taillight, etc. Once the stop is made, the officer must then have probable cause to believe the driver is impaired. The “glassy and bloodshot” eyes from this DUI case are common reason, as are the smell of alcohol and the driver slurring his or her words. From there, the driver will be asked to preform field sobriety exercises, a series of tests that measure balance, speech and the ability to comprehend and follow directions. If the driver does not pass, he or she is arrested and taken to jail for a breath test. Drivers can refuse the field sobriety exercises and the breath test, though they will almost certainly be jailed overnight. Not taking the tests can limit the evidence in a Clay County DUI Case, but there are short-term consequences. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney knows each and every detail of the procedures that must be followed in Clay County DUI Cases and will thoroughly investigate your case to determine if all of them were followed correctly in the DUI case against you or your loved one.

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

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to driving drunk when he caused a crash that killed one person and seriously injured another. The driver’s blood-alcohol level was 2-1/2 times over the legal limit at the time of the 2013 crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver was speeding and drove through a stop sign and into another car, the newspaper reported. A passenger in the other car was killed and the driver was seriously injured.

The driver pleaded guilty earlier this year to DUI manslaughter and DUI causing serious bodily injury. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. However, this is one type of crime that also carries a mandatory minimum sentence. If someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to DUI manslaughter, there is a mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. DUI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, but it does not have a minimum mandatory sentence attached. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the driver was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and ended up with a little more than half of that time.

While in some Jacksonville DUI Cases the blood-alcohol level is not made available, it is always part of a crash with serious injuries. If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI — for weaving in and out of traffic, for example – you will be asked to take a breath test once you are arrested. But drivers can refuse to take that test. When there are injuries involved, however, police can take a blood sample to test for alcohol without the consent of the driver. There are certain things that drivers automatically agree to when they accept a driver’s license and that is among them. Another example is calling for help and stopping to render aid if a driver is in an accident and someone is hurt. So in serious Jacksonville DUI Cases, if the driver is not conscious or cannot otherwise make the decision to consent, it does not matter and blood can be taken anyway.

In many Jacksonville DUI Cases, there will be charges announced four to six months following the crash. Because of backlogs in the system, that’s generally how long it will take to get the blood test results that can prove the driver was under the influence at the time of the crash. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all level of DUI charges, from first-time offenders charged with misdemeanors, to those facing felony charges, including DUI manslaughter.

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