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Moving Violation

Good Ruling for Commercial Drivers in Florida

In Florida if you possess a regular drivers license, and you receive a moving violation, you have three options for non-mandatory traffic infractions:

  1. Elect a driver improvement school
  2. Pay the citation
  3. Elect to fight the citation in Court.

However, the options available to a commercial driver are limited as they can pay the citation or fight the ticket in Court.

Until a memo from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor VehiclesDHSMV) began circulating on January , 2014, it was commonplace for a Judge to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver if the facts and driving record warranted such a result. A withhold of adjudication would mean that a driver wouldnt receive point on their license BUT the violation would still appear on their record as has been commonplace for years.

Since the memo began circulating over a year ago, each county has been inconsistent with their interpretation of the memo and the sentences they were imposing on a commercial driver appearing before them. In an order from Sarasota County (State v John Brandy, 2014 TR 15144 NC) Judge Phyllis Galen on March , 2015, the Judge ruled that the Court has the authority to withhold adjudication on a commercial driver appearing before them on a moving violation. The Judge discussed the separation of powers between the branches of Government and opined that under Florida Law, a withhold of adjudication is NOT masking since the violation still appears on a driving record.

Finebloom, Haenel, and Higgins have been representing motorists across the State of Florida for over 10 years. David Haenel, one of the partners is the former Florida Bar Traffic Court Rules Committee chairman. They can be reached at 1-800-FIGHT-IT (344-4848)

Wrong Way driving

Tampa Teacher Driving Wrong Way on I275 Faces DUI Charges

Hillsborough County educator Kevin Thomas Smisor was recently arrested for driving the wrong way dui attorneys in hillsborough county floridaon Tampa’s notorious Interstate 275. After refusing a breathalyzer, Smisor was booked on charges pending a thorough investigation. For the Sunshine State, this would not be the first time a Florida teacher made headlines for a controversial traffic violation, one where driving under the influence has been called into question. The future, for Chamberlain High’s newest social studies teacher could be bleak if he is found guilty of DUI or other reckless driving charges. There were no reported injuries or fatalities at the time of the event, but the arrest certainly did something to jog the memories of local law enforcement officers who clearly recall numerous I 275 accidents and Florida residents who have been forced to watch teacher after teacher stand accused of behaving irresponsibly behind the wheel.

Florida Educator Arrests

In May of 2013, Florida educator Nancy Louise Vaughn of Estero High School allegedly blew .258 and .273 on two separate breathalyzer tests two hours after initially being stopped for a suspected DUI. Just a few months later she was arrested again for the same charge. She was reportedly making her way to the high school the second time she was arrested and has since been removed from the classroom. Meanwhile, in Collier County, Lake Park Elementary School teacher Amy Jane Daniels was accused of both DUI and cocaine possession.

In early 2014, a Paul R. Smith Middle School Teacher made shocking headlines for allegedly engaging in a DUI scandal where she was reportedly arrested for DUI and partial nudity. From Broward County to Lake County, from South Florida to Central Florida, the education system has been called into question. It is notable to mention that in the case of Nancy Louise Vaughn, the breathalyzers that produced two different readings could have also been called into question by a qualified DUI attorney in her defense. While the rash of teacher DUI’s has definitely rattled the Florida community, law enforcement is shaken by something much worse — the number of auto accident deaths occurring on Interstate 275.

The Death Count on I 275

Wrong way crashes on Interstate 275 are becoming an all too common occurrence and law enforcement is looking into making drastic changes to the stretch of highway. In a startling February 9th DUI event, five students from the University of South Florida were fatally struck by a suspected drunk driver. Since then, five equally shattering fatalities have occurred as a result of I 275 wrong way collisions. Drugs and alcohol were presumed to have played a role in a number of these devastating incidents and investigations are still underway.

In the meantime, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation is making attempts to launch a pilot program which would include the implementation of flashing LED lights and wrong way signs for drivers on the notorious interstate. The spokesperson has pinpointed the road itself as being the root of the problem, citing the fact that two of the crashes involved u-turns at a place in the highway where a median didn’t have to be crossed in order for the driver to turn around. Law enforcement continues to claim the drivers are at fault and that the road itself is perfectly sufficient but many concerned Floridians would disagree. New construction can certainly be a costly endeavor but part of the promotion of driver safety is providing drivers with safely constructed roadways. If the interstate is poorly constructed, Chamberlain High School’s 2014 social studies teacher could have an applicable DUI defense.

The Problem with Teaching and DUI

Florida teachers accused of DUI can fall under misconduct investigations and possibly lose their jobs or teaching privileges. The Florida Department of Education will usually investigate the details of a DUI case involving a professional educator. Disciplinary action in the event of a guilty verdict could have devastating, career altering consequences. For this reason, the allegations against Kevin Thomas Smisor should be thoroughly investigated in return, especially if the road he was driving on was misleading or unsafe.

Justin-Bieber and DUI

Justin Bieber Reaches Plea Deal on Miami DUI Charge

Last week, TMZ announced that it appeared that pop star Justin Bieber has reached a plea deal with prosecutors for a DUI charge that he was facing in Miami from a January arrest.  At the time of the arrest, officers claimed that Bieber was drag racing and was drunk.  Evidence showed that Bieber may not have actually been drunk that night and may not have actually been drag racing, making it look unlikely that he would be prosecuted for either of those things.

Notably, Bieber will not be pleading guilty to any DUI charge.  He will be pleading guilty instead to reckless driving and will have a relatively light sentence.  Bieber will not be serving any jail time and will not have any probation.  Instead, he will have to take anger management classes and will have to pay a fine.  According to many news outlets, the reckless driving conviction will be taken off of Bieber’s record once he has net the requirements of the agreement.

While there are many who are disappointed in the outcome of this case because they wished to see Bieber go to jail, it is actually not a surprising result considering that Justin Bieber’s DUI arrest was his first and the evidence against him was weak.  One test showed that his BAC at the time of his arrest was only .01, below the legal limit of someone under 21 of .02 and a limit that is far from any impairment.  The charge that he was drag racing was also questionable as surveillance footage did not exactly clearly show that he was actually drag racing that night.  Additionally, it is common for first time offenders to have much lighter sentences in a case like this.

According to TMZ at least, there were a few sticking points when coming up with this plea agreement.  Bieber did not want probation, violations of which famously led Lindsay Lohan to multiple jail stays.  The judge also wanted Bieber to film an anti-drug PSA; something that his lawyers argued would have amounted to an inappropriate admission that he was illegally taking drugs or alcohol.  This same reasoning is why Bieber rejected taking drug or alcohol courses or rehab.

The outcome is definitely on the light end for a sentence for drinking and driving or even reckless driving, but was probably agreed upon to keep both parties from having to participate in a trial.  With some evidence being weak, it would have been very possible that Bieber would escape with no penalty at all.  With the high amount of media attention on the case, it would have not been in Bieber’s best interest to deal with a trial because it would have had a negative impact on his image.  The result seems to be a plea that will most likely enrage most of the public.