Defendant points finger at animal in squirrelly Clay County DUI arrest

A man pulled over for driving all over a Clay County road and eventually arrested for Driving Under The Influence told police his driving was erratic because a squirrel was biting him as he drove. The man did have a baby squirrel wrapped up in his shirt when police came to his window, but the officer also smelled alcohol beverages coming from the driver, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. None of the local media reports on the Clay County arrest include information on whether the 24-year-old suspect, Warren Thomas Michael III, had any visible bite marks on his chest or stomach. Evidence of bite marks could be of some help as a defense, but the biggest issue for Michael will likely be two breath tests. The came back .145 and .156, both approaching double the legal limit of .08.

DUI arrests in Clay, Duval and Nassau Counties are among the most subjective arrests in that without some sort of breath or blood test, there is typically very little evidence. In some cases, there is a dashboard video which could let a jury see for itself and try to determine whether the person looks to be under the influence. In most cases, DUI suspects end up taking the breath test and unwittingly give prosecutors everything they need to lock up the case. Take Michael’s case, for example. Prosecutors could argue that it wouldn’t matter if it’s a squirrel, a raccoon or an elephant in the truck, he was still close to double the legal limit and thereby guilty of the Clay County DUI has was charged with. But without the breath test, it could be a different story.

DUI cases in Northeast Florida have a mountain of specific procedures and rules that police must follow, and a slip-up by the officer could lead to the stop being suppressed and not part of the evidence the state could use at trial. And, in Florida DUI cases, without a traffic stop there is most likely not a case at all. Many people either don’t know they can refuse to take a breath test, or are afraid to do so. Refusing will almost always result in an automatic one-year suspension of a person’s driver license – and police will be sure to point that out to the suspect if he or she thinks that might make a person more likely to consent to the test. Also, many people want to take the test to prove they are not impaired, which is also human nature. Research has shown that, especially when people are right around the legal limit of .08, they believe their motor skills and overall functionality are better than they really are. But Clay County DUI cases are much more likely to work out in the defendant’s favor if there is not breath test evidence, especially one that comes in well above the legal limit of .08. Just as a point of reference, a 200-pound man who has more than three drinks in an hour would blow above a .08 and then be considered legally intoxicated.

Our Clay County DUI attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, has represented hundreds of clients charged with DUI – some who’ve taken a breath test and some who’ve refused. Either way, our experienced Clay Count DUI Defense Lawyer will give your case a thorough review and advise you of your best option going forward. If you or a loved one needs a DUI attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Clay County DUI attorney is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.