Articles Posted in Traffic Offenses and Violations

In Florida, a brand new legal case just came out that concerns those who have a commercial driver’s license (“CDL”). CDL are driver’s licenses that are needed for many jobs. Commercial truck drivers, beer trucks and even some furniture movers need to have this license.

The big problem for these CDL carriers happens when they receive a traffic ticket. Speeding, careless driving or even lesser known tickets such as a wide turn brought major problems to these drivers. That is because with a CDL you are unable to receive a withhold of ajudication. Any ticket you receive is an automatic conviction if you are found guilty. A conviction mean points on your driver’s license and often automatic termination of your employment!

Unlike us non-commercial drivers, these drivers are unable to take a driving course in lieu of a conviction or have their traffic ticket attorney negotiate a no-conviction plea with the state.

This may all change now with a brand new court case that just came out. If it stands, CDL drivers will now be able to receive a “withhold” on their traffic tickets, saving them both their employment and their jobs.

The case, State v. Bandy, FLW SUPP 2207BAND, was published March 9, 2015. To summarize, the case says a CDL driver can get a withhold, if he enters a nolo plea. The Court says as follows:

“F.S. §318.14(9) prohibits a CDL driver from electing driving school. That enactment was well within the legislature’s province. Significantly, the legislature could have, but did not, amend F.S. §318.14(11), Florida Statutes, regarding CDL drivers and withholding ajudication. The legislature could have, but did not amend Chapter 318.14(11) to state, for example, that “withholding ajudication of guilt by the judge or official for a driver who holds a commercial driver’s license is prohibited, and the judge or official is required to ajudicate as guilty every case in which the CDL Defendant enters a plea of nolo contendre. The failure of the legislature to amend F.S. §318.14(11) to prohibit a judge or official from withholding ajudication is a CDL case, but enacting F.S. Sec. 318.14(9) to prohibit the CDL driver’s election of driving school to obtain a clerk’s withhold of ajudication, is an expression of the legislature’s intent to allow a withhold of ajudication for a CDL driver who enters a plea of nolo contendere for the court’s determination of the disposition of the case.”
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Want to avoid a traffic ticket for not having a car seat for your child? Well for one Florida woman the answer was simple: put your baby in the trunk! Luckily police found this out quickly…

19-year-old Breona Watkins was out driving without a headlight late at night. When a Broward Sheriff Deputy attempted to pull her over, she continued driving for several blocks.

After claiming she didn’t stop her car because she has “never been pulled over before”, Ms. Watkins then gave a false name to a law enforcement officer. The new mother then admitted that she did not have a driver’s license and was arrested for a dwlsr. That is when things took a dark turn…

During the traffic stop, a second deputy heard what sounded like “crying from the vehicle and there was no child in the vehicle”. When the deputy opened the trunk they found Ms. Watkin’s child inside. The baby was on top of plant cutting shears, surrounded by a rusty coat hanger, a tire iron and several plastic bags among other dangerous objects.Upon questioning, Ms. Watkins told the police that her baby had been sitting on the lap of a 14-year-old passenger. When police pulled her over, she told the passenger to stash the baby in the trunk through the back seat which folded down. At no time did the mother tll the police this during the more then 15 minute traffic stop because according to the mother, she didn’t want to get a ticket for not having a car seat for her baby!

For trying to avoid a traffic ticket the mother was arrested and charged with felony child cruelty, obstruction, multiple tickets and a driving without a license. As of this writing she remains in jail.
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From the BayNews9 website, a local Saint Petersburg man finds himself in hot water after posting a threat to local police online…

Here is how not to do it: 35-year-old Bruce Santee of Saint Petersburg was arrested and charged with a felony after offering $100 to anyone who killed the police officer who pulled his ride over on a traffic stop. Local police were not amused…

It started over a simple traffic ticket. Santee was a passenger in a car that was pulled over by a Pinellas Park police officer when the driver failed to yield. Instead of just watching the driver pay the ticket or hiring an attorney to fight it, the defendant had other plans.

Arriving home late Monday night, Santee instead sounded off on Facebook. In the late night post Santee proceeded to name the officer by name, threatening him and offering $100 to anyone who would kill him.

Police responded with a late night arrest, charging him with a violation of 836.10written threat to kill/do bodily harm. While at first glance the allegations seemed laughable, the charge is nothing if not serious. The crime, a second-degree felony, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and an automatic conviction. At least in Pinellas county, Santee appears to have no prior criminal record. To potentially be a convicted felon after what at first glance appears to be blowing off steam (in a perhaps foolish manner) would be a tough pill for him to swallow.

LEGAL OPTIONS
Are there potential options for first time offenders? Is it possible to avoid a conviction and perhaps get the case dismissed? With early intervention and the help of a criminal defense lawyer, there may be several option to help first time offenders! Options may include, but are not limited to: pre-trial intervention (PTI), a negotiated plea with the state,and a departure hearing (if otherwise qualified) among others.
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From the Tampa Bay Times, a local man was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in an aggravated fleeing and eluding case.

The 22-year-old man pled guilty to multiple charges including grand theft of a motor cehicle, DUI with property damage, fleeing and eluding and child abuse in front of Pinellas circuit court Judge Keith Myers. In addition, the defendant’s driver’s license was also revoked for life.

The chase, which lasted 14 minutes, occurred all through St. Petersburg back on July 9, 2012. The defendant was spotted by members of the Gulfport police department in a stolen SUV and began to chase him to 38th avenue North before looping back south.

The chase ended when the suspect hit a PSTA bus and then crashed into a house. The defendant’s two-year-old son was in the backseat and another passenger was severely injured. This particular case was credited for the reason that the Gulfport police department revamped their chase policies.

Among his many charges, the defendant was charged with child neglect/child abuse even though the child was not beaten or harmed. In Florida (and in Pinellas in particular), a parent driving under the influence of alcohol can be charged with child abuse or neglect as the theory is this puts the child in harm. Every county handles these cases differently. Some state attorney offices will not press forward, while other counties will punish the defendant’s severely for that particular charge.
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Lately, the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Defense Lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. have been getting several calls regarding potential clients facing a Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension Notice. And no wonder, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 23,000 drivers throughout the State of Florida each year from 2006 have had their drivers license revoked as a Habitual Traffic Offender.

In today’s society it is difficult if not impossible for citizens to conduct their ordinary course of business without access to an automobile. Let’s face it; the public transportation in the Tampa Bay area is virtually non-existent. It is more important now, more than ever, to fight these Habitual Traffic Offender Notices! If you receive this notice your drivers license will be suspended for 5 years.

To add injury to insult, you will not be eligible for a hardship or Business Purpose Only License for one year. This means no driving for any reason for a full calendar year. It gets worse. If you get caught driving, you could be facing a third degree FELONY Driving While License Suspended or Revoked charge punishable up to 5 years in prison! The lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. have several strategies to attack your driving record.

Florida Statute Section 322 gives the DHSMV authority to declare an individual a Habitual Traffic Offender. Under Florida Section 322.27, The Florida Legislator adopted the laws under with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can suspended or revoke a Florida Driver’s License: It states:

The Florida DHSMV shall revoke a driver’s license of any person designated a habitual traffic offender, as set forth in section 322.264, and such driver shall not be eligible to be relicensed for a minimum of five (5) years from the date or revocation, except as provided for in Section 322.271. Any person whose Florida driver’s license is revoked may, by petition to the Florida DHSMV, show cause why the driver’s license should not be revoked.

Section 322.24 – Using Out of State Offenses to Suspend Florida Driver’s License The Florida DHSMV is authorized to suspend or revoke the driver’s license of any Florida residence, upon receiving notice of the conviction of such person in another state of an offense therein which, if committed in Florida, would be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license.

Florida Habitual Traffic Offender Law – Section 322.264 The felony offense of driving after being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender, Section 322.34(5), Florida Statutes (2003), provides that “[a]ny person whose driver’s license has been revoked pursuant to s. 322.264 (habitual traffic offender) and who drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license is revoked is guilty of a felony of the third degree . . . .”; A “habitual traffic offender” is defined in section 322.264, Florida Statutes, as “any person whose record, as maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows that such person has accumulated the specified number of convictions for offenses described in subsection (1) or subsection (2) within a 5-year period.”
(1) Three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:
(a) Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(b) Any violation of s. 316.193, former s. 316.1931, or former s. 860.01;
(c) Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
(d) Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
(e) Failing to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another; or (f) Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
(2) Fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assigned as set forth in section 322.27, including those offenses in subsection (1).

How can we help?
Prevention! (Avoid Conviction and Points)
The best way to avoid being a habitual traffic offender and keep your drivers license, is to avoid points and convictions. If you have received a traffic ticket, call us immediately. The Traffic Ticket Lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. can fight your ticket, possibly getting your ticket dismissed and avoiding convictions. If you accumulate 15 convictions during five year period (5), you may receive a letter from the DHSMV suspending you drivers license for 5 years. Fight your tickets as they happen, don’t wait until it is too late!

If you receive notice that your drivers license is suspended, correct the problem immediately! Call the lawyer at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to discuss a strategy to re-instate your drivers license. Three (3) convictions for DWLSR or Driving While License is Suspended or Revoked within a five year period will cause you to be a Habitual Traffic Offender. Don’t wait! Re-instate your driver’s license immediately.Requesting an Administrative Review.

If you receive and HTO notice from the Florida DHSMV and you believe it is in error, you can apply for an administrative hearing to review your driving record. However, you must not delay, you have only thirty business days (30) from the date of the order to request a drivers’ license review. Often times, if you feel there is an error on your record, we can petition the court to send written certification of your conviction to the DHSMV for a review under Florida Statute Section 120.057(2) to correct your record. This is often the quickest and most effective strategy to correct your record. If you still do not have relief, we can file a “writ of certiorari” an appeal the decision from the administrative review hearing.

Advance Driver Improvement (ADI)
Florida law allows you to get a hardship license to drive to and from work or any reason to carry on your ordinary course of business. Often times, you must enroll and show proof of a 12 hour traffic school course called Advance Driver Improvement or ADI to be eligible for your hardship license. If you have been declared a Habitual Traffic Offender, you may be eligible for your hardship license after one year.

Conclusion If you have received a traffic ticket or any criminal driving offense, contact the Criminal Defense Lawyers at Blake & Dorsten P.A immediately to review your case. Keep in mind, that quickly pleading to a criminal offense at arraignment can have long lasting, devastating effects upon your driving history. Remember, it only takes three conviction of DWLSR or DUI in a 5 year period to be a Habitual Traffic Offender. If you receive a notice from Florida DHSMV regarding a HTO suspension, obtain a copy of your Florida Drivers Record and contact us immediately. There are several strategies we can employ to possibly get your drivers license re-instated. Often times we can save you thousands of dollars of increased insurance costs associated with a HTO suspension.
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As St. Petersburg DUI lawyers, we often get asked to explain what goes on if you or a loved one gets arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida. Florida DUI law is a mixture of both criminal and civil actions, starting with your DMV hearing. As a courtesy to our clients and to anyone who receives a DUI in Florida, we have composed a list of tips. These tips are bits of information that may help you find the right criminal defense attorney for you!

1. On the Civil portion of your DUI case, please know that the DUI citation that you received, upon your arrest, also acts as a temporary driver’s permit for 10 days from the date of the citation. You should carry it with you when you drive. Unless an Application for Formal Review of Driver License Suspension is filed within 10 days of your arrest, at the end of this 10-day period, you will suffer a “hard suspension” of your driver’s license and will be unable to drive for any reason for a period of 30 days (if you performed the breathalyzer) or 90 days (if you refused the breathalyzer). At the end of this period of time, you may be eligible to apply for a hardship license which will allow you to drive for business, educational, medical and church purposes. This license can be obtained at your local DMV office. A list of phone numbers and address of your local DMV office can be obtained at www.florida.dmv.org. Please note in order to be eligible for a hardship license, you must have completed or be enrolled in DUI School prior to applying for your said license. You must take your original DUI school completion certificate and a 30-day traffic search (this must be obtained from traffic court) to the DMV office at the time you apply. Please do not attempt to drive to the DMV office. Instead, have someone take you there.

2. If you have retained a DUI defense lawyer to represent you on your DUI charge within 10 days of receiving your citation, they should request a “formal review hearing” before a hearing officer of the Department of Motor Vehicles. In most cases, it is not necessary for the client to attend the formal review hearing. This hearing will take place approximately 30 days after your arrest. You will receive a temporary driving permit, which becomes effective upon expiration of the 10-day permit issued at the time of your arrest, which will allow you to continue to drive until 12 days after the day of the formal review hearing. This temporary permit is restricted (like a hardship license). You may only drive for business, educational, medical, or church/religious purposes. At the formal review hearing, the following items will be considered:

a. Whether the arresting law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances;
b. Whether you were lawfully arrested and charged with a violation of section 316.193, Florida Statutes;
c. Whether you had an unlawful alcohol level of .08 or higher; and d. Whether you refused to submit to a blood, breath or urine test after being asked to take the test by a law enforcement or correctional officer.

3. If your attorney is successful in convincing the hearing officer to invalidate the suspension, your license will be reinstated and you will be able to obtain a duplicate driver’s license at no charge.

If your DUI attorney is unsuccessful, you will suffer a “hard suspension” of your license as outlined in number 1 above and it will be effective upon the expiration of your temporary driving permit.

The outcome of the formal review hearing has no bearing on your DUI case which will take place in criminal court. Make sure to ask your defense lawyer if he or she plans on attending and participating in this administrative review hearing!

4. On the Criminal side of your DUI case, your criminal defense attorney should file with the court having jurisdiction over your case the following documents: a Notice of Appearance, a Written Plea of Not Guilty, a Demand for Discovery, and if necessary a Demand for a Jury Trial. Your case will be set for an Arraignment; however, by the virtue of your lawyer having filed the above-mentioned pleadings, it will not be necessary for anyone to be present at the arraignment. Your case will then be set for a pre-trial hearing approximately 30 days after the arraignment date. Unless you are told otherwise, you must appear in person at all pre-trial hearings. Your failure to appear will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. You will receive a notice of the pre-trial hearing in the mail from the Clerk of Court. When you appear in court, you should wear the type of clothing you would wear if you were going to church. Remember: the Judge has the ability and power to sentence you to JAIL on your DUI.

5. If a videotape of your field sobriety exercises exists, your attorney should obtain a copy of the videotape and will notify you when it arrives so that you can schedule a time to come to his or her office to review it.

6. Your DUI lawyer should also contact you when the discovery (police reports, witness statements, DUI packet, etc.) is received from the State Attorney’s Office and you will need to schedule an appointment to review it with him or her.7. There are many things the Court may require of you. These things will vary depending on the facts of your case and whether or not you submitted to, or refused, the breathalyzer and the number of prior DUI convictions you already have. These things may include: completion of DUI School or Multiple Offender DUI School, performing community service hours, attending a Victim Impact Panel, Fines and Court Costs, and Impoundment of your vehicle.

8. You should register for DUI School as soon as possible. The course is offered through the Suncoast Safety Council. There information can be found at www.safety.org.

9. If you are convicted of a DUI, any license you hold will be surrendered and you will suffer a revocation of your license for a period of time depending upon whether or not you submitted to, or refused, the breathalyzer and the number of prior DUI convictions that you have. You may be eligible to obtain a hardship license which will allow you restricted driving during the revocation period (see number 1 above).

10. If you are ultimately convicted of a DUI in Florida, the Court may order that your vehicle be impounded for at least ten (10) days. (This impoundment means that your vehicle may not be driven by anyone during that period of time. It will not be removed from your property). A law enforcement officer should contact you to provide you with advance notice of the date the impound period begins and he/she will come to your residence to make note of the odometer reading. Additionally, many counties in our state now allow private companies to “impound” your vehicle (usually by putting an anti-theft device on your steering wheel). This is usually done for a low cost and can be convenient, as you get to decide what days you choose to impound your vehicle.

11. If you received any additional traffic tickets at the time you were stopped for DUI (i.e., speeding, careless driving, seat belt violation, etc.), make sure your chosen attorney also be handles those charges for you. Do not pay any of the fines which are due for these tickets unless and until your lawyer (or the Court) direct you to do so.

12. Finally, let your Florida criminal defense lawyer know if you receive anything from the Court. Be sure to advise them immediately of any changes in your address or phone number. Prior to any pre-trial hearing, make sure to let them know your status as far as completion of DUI School, alcohol counseling sessions, etc.
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An interesting story in last week’s USA Today poses an interesting an important question to consider this Holiday Season:

Should all states ban cell phone use while driving?According to the USA Today article, state governments should prohibit all drivers from using portable electronic devices such as cellphones while behind the wheel, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) unanimously recommended Tuesday.

The recommendation from the Safety Board followed a hearing on a Missouri highway crash on Aug. 5, 2010, which killed two (2) people and injured thirty eight (38). The chain-reaction crash of four (4) vehicles included two (2) school buses.The Board ruled that the initial collision was caused by a pickup driver, Daniel Schatz, 19, who was one of the fatalities, sending eleven (11) text messages in the eleven (11) minutes before the crash. His pickup rammed the back of a tractor-trailer that had slowed for construction on Interstate 44 near Gray Summit.

South Florida rapper Flo Rida has entered into a deal in his DUI arrest on Miami Beach in June that will net him no jail time.According to Flo Rida’s attorney Daniel Lurvey, the rapper was allowed to enroll in the “Back On Track” program for first-time offenders. The program requires participants to perform community service and take classes. Flo Rida will also have to pay fees and court costs.

If completed, Flo Rida, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, will have his DUI charge amended to Reckless Driving with a “withhold of adjudication.” He will have no points on his license and could be eligible to have his arrest and criminal records Sealed.Dillard was charged with DUI and Driving with a Suspended License June 9 while in his 2008 Bugatti on the 500 block of Washington Avenue.While Dillard was being given a sobriety test, a crowd gathered, some asking that the police let Dillard go, others offering to give him a ride home.

Starting September 15, 2011, St. Petersburg drivers at certain stop lights will be able to wave at stop light cameras while red-light runners will get their pictures taken and a warning in the mail.

Certain intersections in Pinellas county are getting cameras attached to the signals. Red Light Cameras, as they are called, will capture still images and video of red-light running drivers and their plates. These cameras are currently being used at many lights already in the Tampa Bay area.

Now the City of St. Petersburg is installing even more. The City’s transportation officials have launched a new public safety program called “Stop on Red.” Currently the city is posting warning signs alerting drivers that the red-light safety cameras will be installed at the signals.Police say studies show that drivers tend to change their red light running habits with cameras watching them. Law enforcement like to think of the red light cameras as a form of behavior modification. Opponents say the cameras and the fines they generate, are a huge moneymaker for law enforcement agencies and doubt that they will stop fatalities.

Installation of the Red Light Cameras and warning signs has been finalized at these St. Petersburg intersections:

*** 4th Street and Gandy Boulevard ***
*** 4th Street and 54th Avenue North ***
*** 4th Street and 22nd Avenue North ***
*** 6th Street and 5th Avenue North ***
*** 34th Street and 38th Avenue North ***
*** 34th Street and 1st Avenue North ***
*** 34th Street and 1st Avenue South ***
*** 34th Street and 22nd Avenue South ***
*** 66th Street and 38th Avenue North ***
*** 66th Street and Tyrone Boulevard ***

These intersections were chosen after a crash study identified these locations as high -risk for accidents. Over the past three (3) years the city has had twenty one (21) fatal crashes at stop lights, with 13 deaths related to red-light runners.Starting September 15, 2011, drivers caught on tape running these signals will receive a mailed “warning,” sent to the registered owner of the car. Then thirty (30) days later on October 15, 2011, Traffic Citations by mail will be issued if someone runs these lights. Running a red-light could set you back $158.00, and can increase to $264.00 or higher if paid late.

There are at least thirty (30) Red Light Cameras mounted in Tampa Bay including, over twenty (20) in Hillsborough County.

Previously approved Red Light Cameras in South Pasadena are now at the following locations:

*** Northbound Pasadena Avenue South @ Sailboat Key Boulevard South ***
*** Northbound Pasadena Avenue South @ Shore Drive South ***
*** Northbound Pasadena Avenue South @ Park Street South ***
*** Southbound Pasadena Avenue South. @ Gulfport Boulevard South ***
*** Southbound Pasadena Avenue South @ Shore Drive South ***

CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED


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As reported by BayNews9, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is at it again.

In another “cost-cutting” measure, the Polk County Jail will no longer provide free underwear to its inmates.Normally, when an inmate is booked in the jail, they are given an orange shirt, orange pants and underwear.

In order to save money, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has proposed making males inmates pay if they want their “tighty whities.”

The cost-saving measure was part of the sheriff’s 2011-2012 budget he presented to county commissioners Thursday afternoon. Judd said it will save the county $45,000.

Although women behind bars will still be provided underwear, the men will have to pay.

“For those who don’t want to pay, they can let the breeze blow up one leg and out the other,” Judd said (in classic Grady Judd fashion).

The idea drew smiles from several county commissioners and laughter from the crowd.

“You and I buy it at the store. So, if they want it, they can buy it,” he said. Judd said they are also cutting eleven (11) positions, including six (6) supervisors.

Judd says while his department is doing more with less, his highest priority remains keeping the people of Polk County safe.

Judd said the new policy will not cause the quality of service from the department to go down.

“None of these cuts will keep us from answering the call,” Judd said.

FYI — As for the underwear, it’s about $2.50 for briefs and $4.50 for boxers. The choice is up to the inmates.

“We give our inmates choices at our jail,” he said.

The new underwear rule will breeze into effect Aug. 1st.
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