A Gainesville man didn’t have to go far to be booked in the Duval County Jail for his Jacksonville DUI last week. He had pulled into the jail lot after allegedly smashing into a parked car, a light post and a sign, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A jail security guard heard the commotion outside about 3 a.m. one morning and saw the driver up on the curb, thinking he had a flat tire, the newspaper reported. But the man started stumbling away from the car and was acting strange, so the guard cuffed him and walked him inside the Police Memorial Building. An officer came outside and saw the top of the light sitting in the back of the truck. The driver was charged with DUI in Duval County, leaving the scene of an accident and three counts of damaging property while under the influence. All five charges are misdemeanors in Jacksonville – though the DUI could be a felony in Florida if the driving has already been convicted of DUI twice and the last conviction was less than 10 years ago. No information on the driver’s past criminal history was included in media reports.
This case seems to eliminate one of the most problematic areas for police in a Jacksonville DUI arrest: the traffic stop. Police must have a specific reason to pull a driver over (speeding, swerving across the road, headlights not turned on at night). They then must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired (watery or bloodshot eyes, a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech). In this case, the security guard heard the crash and then said the driver was acting suspicious by not taking his hands out of his pockets when asked. Once he brought the driver inside the building and the officer came outside to assess the damage, there was little doubt the driver’s truck was involved, since the light was in the back. And according to the newspaper, the driver called himself an “idiot” to the police officer. Any statement to police that implies guilt is never good, but the light would likely be enough on its own to cause some legal problems.
But most Driving Under the Influence charges in Duval, Clay and Nassau County do not happen in the jail parking lot. They happen on the roads where police have very strict standards they must adhere to. If the suspicion is met, the officer will have a person perform field sobriety exercises. In those exercises, one can expect to someone can expect to be asked to: recite the alphabet or a series of numbers in order; walk in a straight line and turn around; stand on one leg, then with both legs together to test balance and to move your arms to touch your fingers to your nose. If the officer believes the tests show signs of impairment, an arrest will be made and the deputies at the jail will ask you to take a breath test. The rules are complicated and our Jacksonville DUI Lawyer knows exactly what to look for to make sure everything was done by the book.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County DUI Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.