Articles Posted in DUI – Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville

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.

Six weeks after reports that a police detective crashed into another vehicle and kept going before flipping her unmarked police car, the detective was charged with DUI and three other charges. The detective turned herself in to St. Johns County police last week to face a DUI, along with two counts of DUI causing property damage and another count of leaving the scene of an accident, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The detective is accused of bumping the back of another vehicle and continuing to drive, while people called 911 to report her swerving in and out of lanes, the newspaper reported. The detective eventually flipped the car and rescue crews were called to the scene.

The DUI and the leaving the scene of an accident are both misdemeanors. The DUI causing property damage charges are first-degree misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of one year in jail on each charge. When the crash was first reported, the Florida Highway Patrol said it did not suspect alcohol was a factor, but the detective did give a blood sample at the scene. The case is generating more than normal media attention for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a police officer and, like it or not, stories of officers getting arrested are always going to be of interest to the media. Secondly, the detective is accused of driving drunk in her department vehicle outside the Jacksonville police jurisdiction. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office employees are allowed to drive their patrol or detective vehicles when off duty. But, when it is outside Duval County, it is supposed to be only to and from work. So there are clearly internal procedures to be looked at in this case, on top of any legal issues the detective is now facing, and the newspaper reported she has been assigned to desk duty for now.

On the St. Johns County DUI itself, the blood test appears to be plenty of evidence for the state. The detective apparently submitted to the test voluntarily, the newspaper reported. Had there been a serious injury in the case, the blood test is mandatory. The reason for the delay in charges in this St. Johns County DUI Case was the wait in the results of the test. Another media report from News4Jax reported it came back more than twice the legal limit of .08. Breath tests and the interpretation of field sobriety exercises are often challenged in court, but blood testing is generally deemed to be more accurate, so it will be interesting to see where the defense goes from here. Our St. Johns County DUI Attorney knows the specific process police must follow when making a DUI arrest and will investigate your case fully to determine if all of the laws were followed properly.

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.

Police arrested a man on DUI charges, saying he ran a stop sign to trigger a series of events that left Jacksonville Beach streets flooded and several people and businesses without water service. A driver told police he was headed north on 1st Street when another car ran a stop sign and crashed into him, sending his car into a fire hydrant, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The fire hydrant burst and the water that rushed out flooded many nearby roads, the newspaper reported. Meanwhile, the driver who ran the stop sign is accused of getting out of his car and running away, the newspaper reported. He eventually stopped on the beach when confronted by police. The driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and a DUI causing property damage. Both charges are misdemeanors – leaving the scene a second-degree with a maximum sentence of six months in jail, and this type of DUI charge a first-degree misdemeanor that carries up to one year in the county jail.

This Jacksonville DUI charge has a slightly increased penalty because there was property damage involved. Charges increase to felonies when people are seriously injured or even killed but, for the most part, Jacksonville DUI Cases are misdemeanors. Media reports on this Jacksonville DUI Case do not indicate how police came to the conclusion the driver was impaired. Most likely, police smelled an odor of alcoholic beverages on the man once he was caught by police. During the arrest, the man was likely asked to perform field sobriety exercises, which are tailored to determine whether or not the person is too impaired to be driving. Tests include walking in a straight line and turning around; stand on one leg and also with one’s legs together to test balance; touching one’s finger to his or her nose and reciting numbers or letters.

If the driver does not pass those tests, he or she is typically arrested on Jacksonville DUI Charges. From there, the driver is taken to jail and asked to take a breath test. In Florida, like most states, the legal limit is .08. Drivers can refuse to take the test – just like they can refuse field sobriety exercises – but there are immediate penalties that kick in. Those, however, can be worth taking because the field sobriety and blood alcohol results are often the best evidence the state would have in a Jacksonville DUI Case. This case may be a little different because of the crash and the fact the man ran away, but that does not prove that he was intoxicated at the time of the crash. There are many state rules and regulations governing how field sobriety and breath tests must be conducted. If they are not done properly, they cannot be used as evidence in a Jacksonville DUI Case. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows the ins and outs of the laws governing traffic stops and testing in DUI cases and will review your case to provide you or your loved one with the best options 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 Jacksonville DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State legislators are considering a new program that could require people with multiple DUI convictions to take two breath tests a day to ensure they are not drinking. Right now, the state requires drivers convicted of their second DUI have a machine installed in their car that requires them to blow into it and register as alcohol-free before their vehicle with start, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The new proposal, called “24/7 Sobriety” in other states that use it, could be used as a replacement to the interlock devices in Florida, the newspaper reported.

The program will be tested in Jacksonville DUI Cases before it is rolled out to the rest of the state, the newspaper reported. The first time a person fails a breath test, he or she would go to jail for 12 hours. The second time would trigger 24 hours in jail and the third would require and appearance before a judge and further jail time, the newspaper reported. Judges could order this program as a condition of a bond or probation, the newspaper reported.

While cutting down on drinking will obviously limit people drinking and driving, it is important that people be punished for the crime they committed and that the state not get into something that is too broad. Now, in many cases if a person has been arrested for or convicted of a DUI, a judge can include conditions that prohibit the defendant from drinking, but that’s certainly not in all cases. The person was arrested for DUI, meaning they were driving under the influence of alcohol. Jacksonville DUI Cases are often instances where someone made a poor decision and got behind the wheel. The “24/7 Sobriety” proposal came as there was a push to extend the interlock devices to first-time DUI offenders. That seems like a stretch and an unnecessary punishment in Jacksonville DUI Cases. In most instances, a Jacksonville DUI Arrest comes when a person simply makes a bad decision to get behind the wheel. In the majority of cases, the experience of being in jail, appearing before a judge and at least temporarily losing the privilege of driving is enough to stop the person from drinking and driving again.

Even in cases where someone is arrested a second time, it doesn’t necessary mean that someone can’t have a glass of wine with dinner in their own home. While there certainly is a need to make sure people are not reoffending, the issue in most cases is the driving – not always drinking on its own. The punishment for a repeat offender also again brings to light the importance of hiring a Jacksonville DUI Attorney when you or a loved one is arrested for DUI. Many people want to just plead guilty in first appearance court and start the process of making it go away, but by pleading guilty the person also exposes themselves to more severe penalties if they end up facing similar charges again in the future.

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 mother was arrested this month on two felony charges for the December crash that killed her 5-year-old daughter. The woman was charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the woman was driving in the emergency lane on Interstate 295 in Jacksonville about 12:45 a.m. and swerved when the lane ended, going off the road and into the trees lining the highway, the newspaper reported. Both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are second-degree felonies, with maximum penalties of 15 years in prison on each charge. The DUI manslaughter, however, has a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison, while vehicular homicide has no such mandatory sentence.

While it may seem that DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are basically the same charge, there are distinct elements of each crime. For a DUI manslaughter conviction in this Jacksonville DUI Case, the state must prove A) the driver was legally intoxicated and B) a person died as a result of a crash. The key to this case is the first element – proving whether the driver was drunk. The driver was hospitalized also, the newspaper reported, so it is very likely the state took blood samples to determine the level of alcohol in her system. That is likely the delay in the charges from the December crash – waiting on the toxicology results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is not uncommon for a delay of three to six months in Jacksonville DUI Cases like this.

Vehicular homicide is the killing of a person “by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another,” according to Florida law. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, it would appear that this charge is there if the state feels there would be an issue proving that the driver was legally intoxicated. If the driver was driving dangerously, in this case driving in the emergency lane, a vehicular homicide charge could apply, but the state would have to prove the driver was driving recklessly.

Both charges have their challenges – both for the state and for the defense. But the filing of vehicular homicide may indicate the DUI isn’t as cut and dried as one would think. Media reports did not include a blood-alcohol level. While most people think of alcohol with DUI, it also includes drug use. So if the blood test showed evidence of drugs, the issue then can become how long the drug was in the driver’s system and where it could be proven to impair the driver at the time of the crash in this Jacksonville DUI Case.

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 Nassau County man was arrested and charged with DUI this month after he drove into the back of a police car. The driver hit the patrol car driving on Florida 200 about 7:35 p.m. one April evening, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The police officer and his passenger were both taken to the hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening, the newspaper reported. The driver in this Nassau County DUI Case is now facing a first-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail.

The level of injury to the officer and his passenger are very important in this Nassau County DUI Case. Had either suffered serious injuries, the suspect would be facing a felony charge instead of just a misdemeanor. DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. In this Nassau County DUI Case, the two victims were taken to the hospital, but primarily as a precaution, the newspaper reported. According to Florida law, serious bodily injury is defined as “an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” If there is a crash with serious bodily injury, police can then test the blood of the driver to determine if the driver has alcohol in his or her system. That is not legal in an ordinary Nassau County DUI Case. In fact, if a person is stopped for suspicion of DUI, the driver does not have to submit to field sobriety exercises or to a breath test. Now, refusing the exercises will likely lead to the driver’s arrest and there are other specific penalties for refusing to take a breath test – which is typically done at the jail when a person is being booked. The other side of that coin is a breath test is often one of the biggest pieces of evidence in Nassau County DUI Cases, so that would be one less piece of evidence the state has in the case. The problem is that many jurors sometimes think that a refusal is done for a reason and could be taken as a sign of guilt.

Just as Nassau County DUI penalties escalate when a person is seriously injured, they also go up when a person has multiple DUI convictions on his or her criminal record. That can make it imperative to have a Nassau County DUI Attorney representing you. Many people choose to plead guilty at first appearance court to get out of jail and move on, but that is generally not in their long-term best interest. Our Nassau County DUI Attorneys can discuss the consequences of a plea versus fighting the charge, and will make sure you have all of the information you need at your disposal.

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.