Nassau County Commissioner Stacey Johnson found herself behind bars last weekend, arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Johnson was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Friday, and very few details were released by police over the weekend, according to a report on News4Jax. Many in the media are rushing to judgment on Johnson, primarily because it’s her second seemingly alcohol-related scrape with the law in the past three months. But the laws and procedures officers must adhere to in DUI investigations in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties are specific and detailed, which can oftentimes lead to cases being dropped or reduced to a less serious offense, such as reckless driving in Jacksonville.
Johnson was given a warning for disorderly conduct in Nassau County after a woman punched her in the face at the Ritz-Carlton bar on Amelia Island, the television station reported. Johnson was accused of confronting a woman at the bar saying, “I just wanted you to know I deleted you off my Facebook account, you fat (expletive),” and the woman punched her, according to News4Jax. Johnson was then accused of trying to cover up the incident and announced she would not seek a second term on the commission. That first incident will likely be brought up by the prosecutors if and when negotiations begin. The state will always try to make a point about a pattern of conduct in cases like this. But the fact is that case has been resolved and Johnson is now facing only one charge – the DUI.
The most important part of Johnson’s Nassau DUI case will be the traffic stop. The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that Johnson was committing a traffic infraction or crime in order for he or she to even approach the commissioner’s vehicle. After the officer makes contact with you, he or she must see or detect more suspicious activity before asking you to perform field sobriety exercises. The typical reasons our Nassau County DUI Attorney has seen in police reports through the years are: red or watery eyes, a subject smelling like alcohol, slurred speech or the person swaying when he or she stood or walked. If an officer feels Johnson showed one or more of those signs, she was likely asked to perform field sobriety exercises – designed to determine if someone is too impaired to be driving. Those tests include: being asked to walk in a straight line and turn around; to stand on one leg; to stand with your legs together to test your balance; to move your arms to touch your finger to your nose and recite the alphabet or a series of numbers in order (Rhomberg Alphabet). Each individual test has various indicators of impairment and, if the officer determines enough of the criteria have been met, a DUI arrest is made.
From there, Johnson was likely asked to take a breathalyzer examination. Much will rest on her decision to either take the test or not. If she did not, she will automatically lose her driver’s license for one year – though that can be appealed. But by not taking the test, it drastically reduces the evidence against available to prosecutors and often makes the case come down to the one person’s word against another.
DUI cases in and around Jacksonville often come down to technical details of the traffic stop and arrest. Our Jacksonville criminal defense attorney knows the rules inside and out, and will immediately get to work dissecting the details of 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, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville DUI lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.