Articles Posted in DUI – Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville

A St. Johns County firefighter was arrested for DUI after a domestic call led to police spotting him speeding with a young child in the backseat.  Police were initially called to a gas station about 1:20 a.m. after someone said a woman was being beaten inside a car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. When police talked to the woman, she said she wasn’t beaten, but did say the man was drunk and left with their 4-year-old child in the backseat, the newspaper reported. Another officer then spotted the driver going almost 70 mph in a 45 mph zone, the newspaper reported.

The driver told police he has been drinking and made a mistake by driving, but was trying to leave a domestic situation. He was charged with DUI with a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, just like a traditional DUI, but there are some sentencing standards that increase because there was a child in the car. Instead of a maximum of six months in jail for a first offense, the maximum is nine months. And the fine that would be $500 to $1,000 is now $1,000 to $2,000. These are the same enhancements that occur when a person has a blood-alcohol level above .15. The legal limit in Florida is .08. The blood-alcohol level threshold is not applicable in this St. Johns County DUI Case because the driver did not take a breath test. That opens up its own set of penalties and issues, but it does not allow police to have a hard indication of how much alcohol was in the driver’s system at the time of the incident.

In this St. Johns County DUI Case, there seems to be enough there without the blood-alcohol level – especially because police say the man admitted he had been drinking. He also performed poorly on the field sobriety exercises, the newspaper reported. It is fairly uncommon for a person to be sentenced to jail time on their first DUI, but it would be interesting to see where the negotiations would start with the state in this St. Johns County DUI Case. Having a toddler in the car after midnight is not going to be looked on well by the judge, but is that enough for the state to insist on jail time?  There are specific rules and procedures that must be followed in DUI arrests and our St. Johns County DUI Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to determine of all of those 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 St. Johns County DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man who was driving the wrong way on a Jacksonville freeway and refused to stop for police is now facing several charges, including a felony.  The man was arrested this month after leading police on a four-mile chase before finally exiting the interstate, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was driving on the grass inside the emergency lane and narrowly missed being hit by a police officer, the newspaper reported. Once he finally stopped, police reported the man smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet when asked to perform field sobriety exercises, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with fleeing or eluding police when asked to stop, DUI, driving with an open container of alcohol and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway. Though it might not appear this way on the surface, the man’s biggest problem is the fleeing and eluding charge. That charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The DUI charge is a misdemeanor and while there is potential jail time, serious fines and a driver’s license suspension, there is not a possibility of time in state prison. The other two charges are civil infractions and, while they could create points and fines in terms of the man’s driving record, they are not criminal charges.  When police pull a driver over for suspicion of DUI, there are numerous policies and procedures they must follow, including having a reason to pull the driver over in the first place. Clearly that condition would be met in this Jacksonville DUI Case. Once the traffic stop is made, police must have a reason to suspect the person is intoxicated. Some common reasons in Jacksonville DUI Cases include the driver having glassy or watery eyes; the driver emitting an odor of alcoholic beverages; or the driver having slurred speech. Once that determination is made, the officer can asked the person to take field sobriety exercises. Those will be tested that can include asking the driver to walk a straight line; asking the driver to recite the alphabet; or asking the driver to stand on one leg.

If the officer believes the person is impaired, he or she will be arrested and taken to jail. At the jail, the driver will be asked to take a breath test. The driver does not have to take it, but there are penalties that can kick in immediately if a person refuses. But, by not taking the exam, there is not a record of the blood alcohol content, so it can cut both ways.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows the strict rules and regulations that must be followed in Jacksonville DUI Cases and will thoroughly investigate you case to make sure all of them have been adhered to.

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 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.