The Chief Meteorologist at Channel 12 in Jacksonville, Tim Deegan, was arrested on Saturday night and was charged with DUI. He was apparently on his way home after a birthday party and was spotted by a police officer driving erratically.
According to the police report, he was observed driving quite slowly through stop signs at the intersection between Beach Boulevard and 1st St South in his Jeep Wrangler. Police stopped him 30 yards north of the intersection. Initial observations of his speech and demeanor indicated he had been drinking. He had slurred speech and his breath smelt of alcohol, according to Officer Blalock. The officer reported that Deegan’s eyes appeared to be “red, watery and glassy.”
After he was interviewed in a car park, he was taken to a police station for blood alcohol tests. These indicated that he had a BAC of 0.180 and 0.179 respectively on the two tests. The tests were taken three hours after the arrest was made. If the results are accurate, it would indicate that Deegan’s blood alcohol content was two and a half times the legal limit of 0.08%.
Other evidence that might be used by the prosecution when it comes to trial was a number of beer cans found later in Deegan’s car. Three were found on the back seat, empty. An unopened can was found on the passenger seat and a half open, 16 oz. can that was “still cool” was found by Deegan’s side. The weather forecaster said that he had had two beers at a birthday party and was on his way home after running a few errands when he was stopped.
A DUI misdemeanor charge is more serious than many people think. In the case of a person who is in a high profile and publicly visible job, getting a criminal conviction is not good news and may lead to suspension from one’s job, let alone a number of penalties which could result if a conviction is sustained in this case.
Tim Deegan will no doubt choose a good DUI attorney very carefully as it is the best bet if he is to minimize the fallout from this arrest. On the face of the evidence, the prosecution seems to have quite a lot against Deegan to back up their DUI charge. However, even the alcohol tests, which appear to show quite convincingly that Deegan was DUI, may be challenged by a good lawyer. For one thing, the tests were taken quite a long time after the TV forecaster was stopped. A DUI charge depends on being able to prove, beyond any doubt, that someone was driving under the influence. Although 0.08% is the legal limit, it is often impossible to accurately interpolate backwards from a figure obtained from a test taken much later and claim that this was the alcohol content at the time the arrestee was driving. As a person drinks an alcoholic drink, it takes time for it to pass through the body, into the blood stream and finally be eliminated by the liver. The alcohol content being carried by the blood varies throughout that whole period.
The prosecution has other more circumstantial evidence: the beer cans, the driver’s appearance and the smell as he opened his window when asked to do so by the police officer. However, again there could be other reasons for this which may have nothing to do with Deegan being under the influence of alcohol.
The aim of a DUI defense attorney is to ensure that a client is not unfairly punished for something they did not do and make sure that all evidence presented at a trial is rigorously and critically examined. Inconsistencies in evidence may lead to a charge being dismissed, a plea bargain or a lesser charge being negotiated.