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.