Man 14 Years Late For His Drugged Driving Charge In Florida

drugged driving charge in FloridaYou’d assume someone convicted of a crime and handed a jail sentence would stick around and work their way through the penalty handed to them by the judge. That’s usually the way it goes, but it doesn’t always happen that way. One man in West Palm Beach is an example of this – he skipped town for 14 years on a Florida drugged driving charge.

In May of 2000, the man ran a red light in a Ford F-150 and crashed into a Nissan Quest driven by a married mother of two. He was high on the drug GHB at the time. The crash was so violent that a witness said the car seat was pushed toward the back of the van, and she died of her injuries.

The man was convicted on a drugged driving charge in Florida in 2001, but he didn’t take the sentence seriously. When he was ordered to show up for his jail sentence in March of 2003, he never showed up.

He appealed the conviction in Palm Beach County court, and when that appeal failed he cut off his ankle bracelet and fled to the Bahamas.

He did spend time in custody in the Bahamas relating to the charges in Florida, and after he exhausted all of his appeals and was ordered to be extradited, he was picked up and sent back to the USA. Now he’s facing two failure-to-appear charges in Palm Beach County, and it seems unlikely he’ll be able to walk away again.

A DUI is considered driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, so a drugged driving crash like this one comes with the same fines, penalties, and in this case, jail time, as a drunk driving crash. He may have cut and ran from the consequences, but just like time doesn’t heal all wounds, time also doesn’t clear your record when you’ve killed someone due to drugged driving.

Social Host Laws Could Hold Craft Breweries Liable For Drunk Driver

social host laws Florida Social host laws are beginning to pop up in more states than ever. Depending on how it’s defined, the laws could cover anything from a parent purchasing alcohol and letting their teen drink at home to a nightclub not cutting someone off who is clearly over their limit.

There’s a case on the docket in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Florida right now that could have some significance for Florida social host laws. It may make defining responsibility more obvious when a drunk driver drinks too much at their establishment and drives on to kill someone.

The case involves Caroline Sine, a music teacher in Pinellas County. She was driving in August 2016 when her car was crashed into by Brice MacLeod. He had been out that night, drinking his way between a few craft breweries, and he left both places drunk. He was more than double the legal limit when he ran the red light and crashed into Sine.

Sine’s father filed a lawsuit alleging the two pubs he visited served him more than enough alcohol to get him drunk, and they didn’t stop him before he got behind the wheel. It also states that MacLeod was a frequent visitor to those establishments and he was addicted to alcohol.

As a repeat drunk driver, with a previous DUI conviction in 2006, he was past the point of the Florida lookback period. In Florida, a first DUI only has a lookback of five years before it will count against the offender for a second conviction. The fact that the lookback expired doesn’t mean he got off easy, because he’s been charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI, and DUI causing serious injury and is spending 14 years behind bars for it.

Whether the breweries will be held accountable for the death of Sine is up to a judge and jury, but it does cast a light on how social host laws are supposed to work. If you see someone drinking alcohol and they are clearly over the legal limit, it’s a no-brainer you should stop them from driving. If you’re the person serving them that alcohol, it’s even more important because it may be just as much your fault and it is theirs when they kill someone because of drunk driving.

Another Week In Florida, Another Weird Florida DUI

Florida DUIThere’s just something about the sunshine state that brings Florida drunk drivers out in droves. The news is, as usual, full of weird Florida DUI stories.

St.Lucie County, Florida

A lawnmower should not be used as a mode of transportation. It’s a lot of fun to ride one, but it’s real purpose is to cut your grass and then get put away until that grass needs cutting again. It’s clear that a man from St.Lucie feels as though his ride on lawnmower is so much more than a garden tool, because he was stopped on a public road driving his red Snapper lawnmower.

He was weaving all over the road, carrying a case of Budweiser, and when police stopped him, was found to be three times the legal limit of .08. You can be charged with a Florida DUI if you’re driving a lawnmower, so this man had to leave his Snapper behind and head off to jail.

Polk City, Florida

It’s fine to drive while double the legal limit if you’re on a horse, right? A Polk City, Florida resident found out the hard way that riding a horse down a busy highway will get attention, and after several people called in the rider because she appeared to be drunk, she was arrested for Florida DUI with a BAC of .161.

Usually when someone drinks and drives they grab their car keys, get behind the wheel, and head off into the great unknown. That’s the way it normally happens, and that might be why some people charged with Florida DUI don’t seem to understand that you can still be arrested if you’re not in a car.

Boats, ride on lawnmowers, golf carts, and yes, horses, are all considered modes of transport and if you’re drinking and driving on one, you can be charged. It’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially in a state with as many DUI arrests as Florida.

When Will Lawmakers Pass A Florida Ignition Interlock Bill?

Florida ignition interlock lawWhy would a state pass up an opportunity to crack down on their drunk driving problem? When you consider how significant Florida’s drunk driving problem is, it’s surprising that lawmakers just let the Florida ignition interlock bill die before it could make it to the Governor’s desk.

Both MADD and police stood in support of an update to the Florida ignition interlock laws, and the proposed bill was for the stiffest interlock penalty you can pass: an all offender ignition interlock law. An interlock is a device that will stop any drunk driving offender from starting their vehicle when that person has been drinking. Having an all offender law means that everyone, first offenders included, would be required to use the device for a period of time.

There’s a major difference between the Florida ignition interlock law they have in place and  what an offender ignition interlock law would bring to the table. Right now if you’re stopped for drunk driving in Florida and it’s your first offense you will only be required to use an interlock if you meet one of two conditions:  if you’re blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher or if you have a minor under the age of 18 in your vehicle at the time of arrest. You’ll also only be required to use an interlock for six months.

Just how badly is a Florida ignition interlock bill needed? One repeat drunk driver from Marion County, Florida provides the perfect example of what’s going on in the state. She was arrested for DUI four years ago and when she was convicted based on a near lethal BAC of .410, she told the judge that she was going to get help so it didn’t happen again.

Just this year she drove drunk again, and this time, just like many other repeat drunk drivers, she killed someone. Once again her BAC at the time of arrest was .402, and now she’s facing DUI manslaughter charges.

If Florida had an all offender interlock law four years ago, this offender would have driven with an interlock and may not have decided to drive drunk again. There’s also no way of knowing how many times she’s been driving drunk in those four years, and that’s why it’s important to use interlocks the first time someone is arrested.

Let’s hope the Florida ignition interlock bill will live again, and the state will decide to pass this life saving law.

29 Year Jail Sentence For Florida Drunk Driving Crash

Florida drunk driving crashHow much jail time is enough for causing a Florida drunk driving crash? If one man from Jupiter, Florida is any indication, it’s a lot longer than you might think.

A man by the name of Admerson Cleber Eugenio Vicente-Vicente was driving in Pompano Beach in 2015. He was drunk, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.170, and he drove straight into two sisters who were heading to their mother’s house. Both died from their injuries.

This is a Florida drunk driving crash that shouldn’t have happened, and that’s because this offender shouldn’t have been driving, period. He was a repeat offender charged with DUI in 2010. Caught driving with a suspended driver’s license twice since that time, his last conviction resulted in his driver’s license being revoked for five years.

Now he’ll be spending 29 years in prison for killing two sisters, and he should count himself fortunate — he could have received 15 years per victim, and the judge also decided to give him credit for time served.

It’s clear from this case that the statistics on driver’s license suspension are accurate. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has shared data showing 50 to 70% of drunk drivers will continue to drive on a suspended license, and when they do, this is can happen.

This Florida drunk driving crash also shows just how much Florida needs an all offender ignition interlock law. An all offender ignition interlock law — requiring ignition interlocks for first offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, is a requirement in 30 states right now. Why doesn’t Florida, a state with a serious drunk driving problem and numerous drunk driving crashes each year, have an all offender law yet?

It’s a question someone may want to ask lawmakers in the Florida Senate. They just allowed a bill that would have required ignition interlocks for all offenders to die this past spring, and there’s no sign of bringing it back to life yet.

How much longer will Florida wait to pass this lifesaving law?

Florida DUI Shows Police Don’t Horse Around

florida dui on a horseIt seems as if people getting arrested for drunk driving in Florida are always taking the top spots in local news, but some Florida DUI arrests are definitely stranger than others.

Take one Florida DUI arrest that happened recently. A woman from Polk City was heading down the highway when multiple people began calling her in for drunk driving. She wasn’t swerving in and out of her lane or slamming on her brakes behind these cars, so why was she reported?

It turns out this drunk driver was riding a horse down the highway at the time of her arrest. The people who called her in said she appeared drunk, confused, and either she, the horse, or both were possibly in danger.

When police arrived they found her riding the horse on the busy road, and they asked her to dismount for a field sobriety test. They also asked her to submit to a breathalyzer test, and when she did she registered a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .161.

Most people charged with a Florida DUI have a BAC over .08, so she was definitely over the legal limit. Just like in many other states, a horse is also considered a mode of transport.

This drunk driver has now been charged with DUI and animal neglect.  The horse was taken to a local shelter and the driver was taken to jail. It’s not clear whether she’s a repeat offender, but if she is and she’s convicted on her Florida DUI charge she could spend time in jail, pay stiff fines, and possibly be required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle she drives.

If she is required to use an ignition interlock, she’ll also be banned from riding a horse. That’s because the law states you must only drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock. Since you can’t  install an ignition interlock on a horse, you can’t ride one during your period of restriction.

No matter where you live or what you drive, your best bet to avoid strange and dangerous situations like these is to drive sober, and that includes when you’re out on your horse.

That Moment When Your Nanny Gets A Florida DUI

Florida DUIWhen you have someone looking after your children you want to know they are safe in their care. After a nanny was arrested recently on a Florida DUI charge, probably quite a few parents are now worried about their own caregivers.

Not everyone realizes just how much drinking alcohol and taking drugs can affect your judgement, coordination, and vision. That’s why the biggest concern when someone has done one, the other, or both is not whether or not that person will get caught; it’s whether or not they will crash their vehicle.

In this case the nanny from Boca Raton, Florida was driving under the influence on a highway when she did crash the car, and unfortunately, she also had the baby in the back seat. Even worse, the baby wasn’t properly secured in his car seat so when police arrived they discovered the car seat had been flipped over.

Police discovered she had several bottles of prescription drugs in the vehicle with her, and they arrested her for Florida DUI causing property damage, possession of a controlled substance, and child neglect.

Thankfully, the baby only had minor bumps to his head. It could have been a lot worse, and the nanny will now have a long road ahead of her as she works her way through the Florida DUI penalty process. After a crime like this, Florida parents may have an even longer road to trusting their own caregivers again.

One way the state of Florida could alleviate the concerns of parents would be to pass an all offender ignition interlock law. An all offender ignition interlock law requires all offenders – including first time offenders – to install an ignition interlock device after they’ve been arrested for Florida DUI.

Florida bypassed the opportunity to act on an all offender interlock bill this past spring. Maybe this is the case that will bring that bill back to life?

Tiger Woods Pleads Guilty To Drunk Driving In Florida

drunk driving in Florida A lot of famous people have been arrested for drunk driving in Florida, but few have been in the news as much as Tiger Woods has over the past few months. That’s because the nature of his DUI arrest, and how he’s dealing with it, are somewhat unique in the world of celebrity DUI.

Tiger Woods was arrested for drunk driving in Florida at two in the morning last May. He was found asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle, and when police arrived it was obvious that the car had been damaged. Although he passed the breathalyzer test he was still charged and arrested for DUI because the toxicology report showed he had several different drugs in his system.

This past August he entered the Florida DUI first-offender program, also known as Florida’s Diversion program, and because of the nature of the program he was able to enter a guilty plea for the lesser charge of reckless driving.

The Florida Diversion Program involves an offender spending a year on probation, paying $250 in fines and court costs, and attending DUI school. The offender must also perform 50 hours of community service and attend an impaired driving victim workshop. In Tiger’s case, he’ll also be required to submit to random drug tests.

There is no jail time involved with his plea deal, and if he completes the program he will still have the reckless driving charge on his permanent record.  He can ask a judge to remove the reckless driving charge, but if he’s charged again he’ll still be a second-time drunk driving offender in Florida. If he doesn’t complete the program he’ll have a second-degree misdemeanor on his record.

Florida isn’t the only state with a Diversion Program, and it’s slowly becoming a way for many first-time drunk drivers to correct their mistake and move on from a drunk driving charge. With someone like Tiger Woods currently enrolled, it’s definitely going to bring more attention to diversion programs everywhere.

 

Friday Fallout: Worst City For Florida Drunk Driving Charge.

Florida flagIt doesn’t matter what sunny city you live in; Florida drunk driving touches every corner of the state. Although local lawmakers only have to compare statistics with states like Arizona to see how significant the drunk driving problem is, they still haven’t passed an all offender ignition interlock law.

But there’s good news for safe drivers in St.Petersburg, Florida: if you drink and drive in that city, you’re going to pay a stiffer price than you would in any other city in the state. Just this month the city council passed a new ordinance that gives police officers more power over penalizing drunk drivers.

Instead of just leaving the fines up to the local DMV, St.Petersburg police officers will be able to issue a $500 fine to anyone who is arrested for drunk or drugged driving. That fine will come in addition to costs that Florida drunk driving offenders pay for towing and impound. When collected, the funds collected will go to the city, not the police department. This new ordinance will take effect on October 12th with police officers able to begin issuing the fine as of November 10th.

friday-falloutWhy an extra fine on top of all of the fines that people in Florida pay for drunk driving? It’s just one more way that the police in St.Petersburg are cracking down on their drunk drivers, and judging from the numbers of DUI arrests in the city, it’s not a moment too soon. So far this year St.Petersburg police have arrested 445 drunk drivers, and that number could soon be up over last year’s total of 469 arrests.

It’s a unique tact for tackling the problem of Florida drunk driving, and it may be enough to deter some people who would potentially drive drunk. Unfortunately it won’t stop those chronic repeat offenders who are already caught and convicted of drunk driving. The only thing that can stop those drivers are ignition interlocks.

Along with the new fine, Florida police might want to stand in support of passing an all offender ignition interlock law – a law which requires all drunk driving offenders, including first offenders, to install an ignition interlock, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. State laws aren’t as easy to pass as city ordinances, but if police in the state really want to stop drunk drivers, an all offender ignition interlock law will do just that.

What’s It Going To Take To Change Florida Drunk Driving Laws?

Florida drunk driving lawsMany changes to drunk driving law are motivated either by tragic crashes or the increasing presence of drunk drivers on the roads. That hasn’t been the case for Florida drunk driving laws. Despite both crashes and record numbers of drunk drivers, local lawmakers still haven’t passed an all-offender ignition interlock law.

That’s hard to believe considering what’s happening on the roads of Florida, especially with repeat drunk driving offenders. One recent case involved an offender with four Florida drunk driving convictions who crossed state lines into Mississippi and caused a crash there.

No one was hurt in the crash since he ran into a parked car, but when police caught him after he fled the scene they found he had four Florida drunk driving convictions on his record. In Florida you can be charged with felony DUI after you receive three DUIs in a 10 year period or you’re convicted of a fourth DUI. Felony DUI penalties in Florida include license suspension, stiff fines, and up to five years in prison, so why was this man out driving in Mississippi?

The problem isn’t just that he made the choice to drive on a suspended license, it’s that he managed to rack up four DUIs in Florida in the first place. Without an all offender ignition interlock law to prevent these drivers from continuing to get behind the wheel of a car, you can’t keep them from driving. And if you can’t keep them from driving, they are free and clear to drive drunk as much as they’d like.

Although there was an attempt at passing an all offender interlock law in Florida this past year, the proposed bill died before it could get the votes it needed to move to the Governor’s desk. You have to wonder why they seem to want to wait for a tragic crash or an increasing number of repeat offenders before they manage to change Florida drunk driving laws to include interlocks for all offenders.

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