Tag Archives: hit and run

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.

The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act

Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act Signed into Law in Florida

On June 24, 2014, Governor Scott signed senate bill 102, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, into law, strengthening the criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a deadly accident so that they more closely match the penalties someone would get if they had stayed at the scene if they were drinking and driving.

The law was named after Aaron Cohen, who was killed in a hit and run while he was bicycling in South Florida back in 2012.  The person who hit him turned himself in 17 hours after the accident, when the chance of getting a successful test to show blood alcohol content at the time of the accident had past.  The driver could not be charged with DUI manslaughter, and as a result he got a lighter 22-month sentence when he was convicted of a different crime.  Aaron Cohen’s loved ones were devastated at the result and began the push to make the sentences for both crimes the same so that someone wouldn’t be rewarded for leaving the scene of a deadly accident when they were drunk.

The accident highlighted a huge loophole when it came to punishing those who were involved in accidents where someone was killed and the driver was drunk.  In effect, they were being rewarded for leaving the scene of the accidents, as they could end up getting a lighter jail term if they didn’t stay.  The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was introduced in order to close this loophole through making the punishment the same for leaving the scene of a deadly accident the same as if the person had stayed and were drunk.

The law that was signed by Governor Scott increases the minimum sentence for both leaving the scene of a deadly accident and DUI Manslaughter to 4 years in prison.  Additionally, someone who leaves the scene of a deadly accident will now face license suspension for leaving the scene of a deadly crash, similar to the type of suspension that they would face for a DUI manslaughter conviction.  Now both crimes would lead to a 3-year minimum licenses suspension.