Articles Posted in Drunk Driving

Pre-trial diversion and pre-trial intervention can help offenders avoid getting convictions on their record in Pensacola and Northwest Florida.Everybody makes mistakes.

For some people, those mistakes bring them into conflict with the law. Thankfully, Florida law recognizes that, in some cases, offenders deserve a second chance.

In Pensacola, Milton, Fort Walton, Destin, and all over Northwest Florida, our State courts offer two programs that defer some offenders away from the criminal justice system who have never been in trouble with the law, generally for certain types of first offenders.

no contest plea, pensacola, florida, Gulf BreezeMany of us have heard the term “no contest,” or in Latin “nolo contendere,” which means “I do not wish to contend,” on television or maybe during a trip to court here in Pensacola, but what does that mean and what is the difference between a plea of no contest and a plea of guilty in Florida?

Sometimes there is, effectively, no difference and sometimes there is a considerable difference.

If someone pleads guilty, they are admitting to the facts and legal consequences of those facts.  However, by entering a no contest plea, a person is not admitting their guilt but is admitting there are facts the prosecution can prove that would result in a conviction.  Specifically, by entering a plea of no contest a person is neither denying their guilt or admitting it. Rather, they are admitting that it is in their best interest to enter the plea.  The sentencing consequences can be, and usually are, the same.

spring break partyFew things can put a damper on a spring break trip to Pensacola Beach, Navarre, Ft. Walton Beach or Destin like getting arrested.

As disheartening as that can be, the right attorney may be able to help you avoid a mandatory court appearance or, possibly, even having a blemish on your record. Here are some common reasons – and remedies – for spring break arrests:

Minor in possession of alcohol or marijuana: Although those arrested for being a minor in possession are not usually taken to jail, they are issued what’s called a “Notice to Appear.” That is a legal requirement to appear in court on a particular date, usually a few weeks later. In Florida,  it has the same effect as an arrest, unfortunately. The defendant must appear at that court date unless he or she hires an attorney who can waive the requirement to appear.  Sometimes an agreement can be reached with the prosecutor eliminating the need to appear or even come back to Pensacola.

I have seen the methods and tactics of law enforcement in Florida in driving under the influence cases greatly improve over the last ten (10) years or so. Now, there are special units within almost all law enforcement agencies who’s job it is to specifically detect DUI (drunk driving) drivers. These roving units are sometimes called “DUI Task Forces.” Officers of these units are sometimes given awards based on the number of arrests they make. Both the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and Pensacola Police Department have these units.

Most of the squad cars belonging to a DUI task force officer have video cameras that film the driving pattern which may give an officer probable cause to make a stop. Once stopped, and while the officer is at the window of a person’s vehicle, everything being said is also being recorded. The officer wears a wireless remote microphone on his uniform that will record everything the driver says. Many jurisdictions also have a mobile breath testing unit that will respond to the scene where the officer has arrested a suspect. This way, there can be no argument that the person’s blood alcohol was not over the legal amount while he was driving even though an hour later when given the breath test at the jail the alcohol content had risen over the legal amount. Also, after the arrestee is placed in the back of the squad car everything he or she may say is also being recorded. Once case my young lady client, who was so demur and nice to the officer up until the time he arrested her, cut loose with some of the most profane and vulgar language I have ever heard while the officer was searching her car. Her sweet, demur image was tarnished to say the least.

The bottom line: people should not drink and drive. If you don’t, you don’t have to worry about these roving squads of well trained specialists just waiting for a drunk driver to make a wrong move. Different studies have indicated somewhere between 40% to 60% of the drivers on the road after 1:00 a.m. are legally under the influence of alcohol.