Articles Posted in Traffic Offenses and Violations

Flavor Flav — real name William Jonathan Drayton Jr. — was arrested in Las Vegas last Friday after a routine traffic stop resulted in police officers finding four (4) warrants out for his arrest. The rapper took to Twitter on Monday to tell his side of the story.Drayton was pulled over by police at 10:57 p.m. Friday for a routine Traffic Violation east of the Las Vegas Strip. When an officer ran his name through the system, the warrants came up; he was arrested and taken to jail, where he was booked, got his mug shot taken and was eventually released, TMZ reported.

The 52-year-old Public Enemy alum’s four (4) separate misdemeanor traffic warrants include driving without proof of insurance, a parking violation and two (2) cases of driving without a license.It was unclear when the warrants were issued, the Las Vegas Sun reported. But in 2002, Drayton served nine (9) weeks at Rikers Island Jail in New York for various auto-related violations including Driving with a Suspended License (DWLSR), numerous parking tickets and being late for meetings with his probation officer.

The VH1 reality television star known for wearing quirky sunglasses and a clock around his neck aired his version of events online Monday, tweeting that he was on his way home from Benihana’s when he was pulled over.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a good story this week about the rise in DUI arrests involving both “legal” prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter drugs.

Whether it’s cold medicine, cough syrup, a legal prescription drug or alcohol, if you ingest too much and drive a vehicle, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence.”Even if someone is taking prescription drugs legally, they can be charged with DUI,” said Sgt. Kim Montes, spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) district that includes Volusia County. “If a trooper evaluates someone, either on a traffic stop or at a crash scene, and determines they are impaired from alcohol, illegal or legal drugs, or another substance, they can be arrested.”

The FHP recently charged a man with DUI Manslaughter in an Orlando case because they believe he had inhaled computer cleaner, Montes said.

Toxicology reports, which reveal the presence of substances in the blood that can lead to impairment, can take several months to complete, said FHP Lt. Bill Leeper. He noted authorities are awaiting toxicology results in at least one Flagler County crash involving serious injuries.

The Friends Drive Sober organization devotes a section of its website to prescription and over-the-counter drugs and their effect on drivers.

“Drugs impair our bodies in a variety of ways,” the site reads. “They may blur our vision; make us tired or too excited; alter depth perception; make us see or hear things that may not be there; raise or lower blood pressure; react too quickly, too slowly, or not at all. They cause problems with concentrating on the task at hand.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically lists cough and cold medications containing dextromethorphan as one of the most commonly misused over-the-counter drugs, “to get high.”

“The pivotal issue when it comes to controlled substances is impairment,” said Chris Kelly, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office (emphasis added).

The short answer, he said, as to whether a person is guilty of Driving Under the Influence depends on two things: the impaired individual is “in [actual physical] control of the vehicle” and, per state statute, that “the person’s normal faculties are impaired.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) runs a panel for all controlled substances when blood is drawn, said spokeswoman Susie Murphy.

“We don’t typically test for huffing (inhaled) agents,” Murphy said. “We don’t test for over-the-counter drugs at all.”

But that doesn’t mean a person can’t be charged with DUI for taking over-the-counter medication.

“If someone were to ingest enough over-the-counter medicine, they could also be arrested for DUI if it is determined that they are impaired,” Montes said.
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Authorities in California say actress Jaime Pressly has been arrested in Santa Monica for investigation of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol.Lt. Darrell Lowe says the co-star of TV’s My Name is Earl was stopped for a Traffic Violation around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday and booked on suspicion of DUI but he’s not releasing any details.

The Los Angeles County sheriff’s website says the 33-year-old actress-model spent the night in jail and was released Thursday morning after posting $15,000 bail.According to an online story several days later on The Huffington Post, Jaime Pressly’s DUI arrest on January 5th was no close call — the My Name Is Earl star registered a .22 blood alcohol level, nearly three (3) times the legal limit.

According to BayNews9.com, the St. Petersburg Police Department’s (SPPD) “Street Crimes Unit” seized 9.3 pounds of Marijuana from two (2) vehicles Wednesday afternoon.Police said they conducted two (2) traffic stops; one near 21st Avenue South and 16th Street in St. Petersburg and the other at 7348 U.S. Highway 19 North in Pinellas Park (its unclear why the SPPD was conducting a traffic stop in Pinellas Park).

Officers discovered nine (9) gallon-size zip lock bags in the two (2) vehicles containing about 9.3 pounds of marijuana. Apparently someone in this operation had a heavy hand and stuffed and extra 3/10 of a pound into the gallon-size bags.

Officers also found (and seized) $4,488 in cash (although I’m sure that money was legitimately earned during the suspects’ day jobs and will have to be returned to them).

Three (3) men, all from St. Petersburg, were arrested for Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. They are: Floyd J. Green, 29; Gregory Thomas, 31; and Doniell Massey, 30.

No doubt, one (or more) of their attorneys will claim that the Marijuana was for “personal use.”

Thomas also faces charges of Driving with a Suspended License.

The obvious lesson to be learned here: If your license is suspended, do not drive with nine (9) pounds of marijuana in your car…..
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Now that New Year’s Eve is only a couple of days away, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expects this to be one of the deadliest weeks of the year on the roads.To combat this, law enforcement is considering a new weapon in their fight against drunk driving.

And it’s a change that could substantially increase the State’s likelihood to obtain a DUI conviction.

“I think it’s a great deterrent for people,” said Linda Unfried, from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Hillsborough County.

Florida is among several states now holding what are called “No Refusal” DUI Checkpoints.

So, what does this mean for you as you head out to enjoy your Holiday Season?

It means if you refuse to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop, an on-site Judge can issue a search warrant allowing the police to take an involuntary blood sample (by using actual force, if necessary).

According to WTSP.com 10 News, It’s already being done in several counties, and now Unfried is working to bring it to the Tampa Bay area.

“I think you’ll see the difference because people will not drink and drive. I truly believe that,” she said.However, not everyone agrees with Unfried about “No Refusal” DUI Checkpoints.

“It’s a slippery slope and it’s got to stop somewhere,” says local DUI defense attorney Kevin Hayslett. He asks “what other misdemeanor offense do we have in the United States where the government can forcefully put a needle into your arm?”

The Federal government says Florida has among the highest rates of breathalyzer refusal.

“Now you’ve got attorneys telling their clients, don’t blow, don’t blow! Because we know from the results from these machines that they’re not operating as the State or the government says they’re supposed to operate,” said Stephen Daniels, a local DUI consultant and DUI expert witness.

“We don’t want to violate people’s civil rights. That’s the last thing we want to do, but we’re here to save lives,” Unfried said.

She adds that this type of checkpoint would be heavily advertised, with the goal of deterring any drunk driving.U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has recently said he wants to see more states hold similar programs.
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As we enter another Holiday Season, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. would like to wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Holiday weekend.With the support of all of our friends, family and clients, 2010 was another excellent year for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. And for that, we have much to be thankful for this Holiday Season.

To our family and friends, thank you for your patience and understanding when it was necessary to work late nights and/or weekends.

To our business colleagues and our outstanding network of fellow attorneys, thank you for not only your referrals but for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to provide an experienced and aggressive representation to those that you’ve sent our way.

And to both our former and present clients, thank you for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to protect your rights and to handle your important criminal and/or traffic-related matters.

As many of you know, 2010 presented some different challenges for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. Without your support, we would not have been able to achieve the many successes that came our way.

On behalf of the entire Blake & Dorsten, P.A. team (Pam, Eryn, Oatie and myself), have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season.As always, attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten will be available throughout the Holiday Weekend. In fact, we were very grateful to sign up a new Client today and make a Christmas Eve trip to the Pinellas County Jail.
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One after another, people came before the City Council to forcefully denounce red light cameras. They said the devices cause rear-end crashes and are really just a “money grab” by the government. They complained about a “1984 Orwellian police state.” They warned, We’ll remember this at election time. This was the tone of a story in today’s St. Petersburg Times about red light cameras.An elderly woman from Clearwater Beach blasted the cameras as “highway robbery,” prompting a round of applause from the audience.

However, this did not stop the City Council from voting 3-2 Thursday night to bring red light cameras to some of Clearwater’s most dangerous intersections.

The three (3) council members who support the red light cameras — Mayor Frank Hibbard, Vice Mayor John Doran and council member Bill Jonson — passionately insist that it’s not about revenue, but instead it’s about driver safety. They view the cameras as a tool for fighting an epidemic of red light running in the area.

Clearwater is the fourth city in Pinellas County to approve the cameras, behind St. Petersburg, Kenneth City and South Pasadena. Oldsmar is expected to approve them Tuesday.

Clearwater’s first cameras are to be installed sometime next year. At the mayor’s suggestion, they’ll start by posting cameras at just a couple of intersections, which are yet to be determined. After six (6) months, the city will study the data from those locations before deciding whether to continue.

Ultimately, city officials have about ten (10) dangerous intersections in mind for the cameras, mostly along Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.A 2009 state law allows cities to install cameras at intersections and charges a $158 Fine to the registered owner of any vehicle caught on camera running a red light.

The cameras take a photo of the red light runner’s license plate. A traffic officer reviews the image, verifying the infraction. A notice is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner. If the owner wasn’t behind the wheel at the time of the infraction, that person has thirty (30) days to file an Affidavit declaring as much.

Violators are fined $158 for a Nonmoving Violation, which means no points are taken from their driver’s license.

From each ticket on city and county roads, the state Department of Revenue gets $70, the state Department of Health gets $10, the brain and spinal cord injury trust fund gets $3 and the locality gets $75. For tickets on state roads, the state gets $100, the locality $45 and the trust funds $10 and $3, respectively.For more information on red light cameras in the Tampa Bay area, please check out the hyperlinked video interview that I did for My FOX Tampa Bay last October.
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In breaking news early this morning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout rookie wide receiver Mike Williams was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO)According to an online story by The Tampa Tribune, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies arrested Williams at U.S. Highway 301 and Causeway Boulevard at 2:48 a.m. He was arrested even though his blood alcohol level was lower than the level at which a motorist is considered too intoxicated to drive.

*** For an interesting tool to determine how much is “too much” to drink, you can check out the following link on the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. website. ***

Williams was driving 57 mph in a 45-mph zone, weaving in and out of lanes, Hillsborough sheriff’s spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

According to a story that will appear in tomorrow’s St. Pete Times, the mother of a young woman killed walking on the Harbour Island bridge by a suspected drunken driver is suing the man accused in her death.

Early on Oct. 30, Kate Kohlier and Doug Kozar were leaving work at Tampa’s Marriott Waterside Hotel (coincidentally, where this author was married) and walking across the Harbour Island bridge when they were struck and killed by a car driven by Matthew R. Moye.Another hotel employee, 47-year-old Joao Armando Fonseca Barbosa, suffered a broken ankle when he jumped out of the way of the speeding Cadillac, police said. Last week, Barbosa filed a Negligence lawsuit against Moye.

Kohlier was twenty-four (24) and “on the brink of graduating from the University of South Florida (USF) with a degree in psychology,” said attorney Tom Carey, who is representing Kohlier’s mother, Cindy Collins, in the lawsuit.

According to a recent story in the USA Today, as illegal prescription drug use soars, the number of cases of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in which the substance is a prescription drug rather than alcohol is rising steadily.
But prosecuting and obtaining convictions against suspects charged with DUI Involving Prescription Drugs can be a challenge.Many states, including Florida, do not require a test to quantify the amount of drugs in a person’s body in a DUI case, and impairment is difficult to prove.

“What we and other states have run into historically is that there is a well-developed system to quantify the amount of alcohol in the human body,” said Rob Parker, a Brevard County, Fla., prosecutor.

However, “when you have Oxycodone or an opiate, we do not have a well-developed way to quantify the amount of drugs so that a jury can then compare that value to a standard established as an unlawful amount for when operating an automobile.”

Parker prosecuted a man charged with four (4) counts of DUI after a crash in Melbourne in 2007. Minutes after the accident, a police officer observed that the 33-year-old driver’s eyes were bloodshot, his eyelids droopy and his speech mumbled. A blood sample from the driver tested positive for the presence of prescription drugs.

“The jury heard all of that and could not conclude that he was DUI with drugs beyond reasonable doubt,” Parker said.

The jury acquitted the driver of the DUI charges in August.

A DUI charge is the same whether the suspect is accused of driving while influenced by alcohol or drugs.

In Florida, the charge can be proved in two ways: a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, or if the driver demonstrates he is under the influence of alcohol or a drug that “impairs his normal faculties.”

The second is not so cut and dried.

Law enforcement has limited means to prove impairment. Field sobriety tests (or Field Sobreity Exercises – as some law enforcement officers are trained to call them) are one tool. The state also sometimes relies on “Drug Recognition Experts” (DRE’s), police officers who have completed specialized training in detecting impairment due to drugs.Michelle Perlman, misdemeanor division chief for the Brevard State Attorney’s office, said her office recommends law enforcement agencies get a DRE to the scene as soon as possible if a suspected DUI involves drugs.

“This cannot usually be conclusively diagnosed by the average police officer,” she said.

There are about a dozen DRE’s in Brevard, where more than 2,000 people were charged with operating a vehicle under the influence in 2009. As is common around the country, Brevard does not separately track DUI’s involving drugs.

Cpl. Wendy Wheeler, who heads the DUI unit at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and who is a certified expert, said it can take three (3) to six (6) months for an officer to become a DRE.

“The program is real intense,” she said.

Another important tool is a patrol car dashboard camera that can record impaired drivers. But not all police vehicles have them.

When cases go to Trial, a lot is up to the officer and the attorney, Perlman said.

“I do think that we see more difficulty in obtaining guilty verdicts on drug DUIs and that is probably because we are unable to prove the amount of drug in the person’s system or the precise time when it was consumed,” Perlman said. “I think if we can show a quantitative analysis, we will get a lot more plea deals.”

Florida law does not require reporting the quantity of a drug in a driver’s body in DUI cases. But the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has started to conduct quantitative tests for drugs like Cannabis and prescribed drugs like Xanax, Valium and Ativan and the date-rape drug GHB.

“We will continue to add quantitative tests for additional drugs,” said Heather Smith, an FDLE spokeswoman.

She said law enforcement agencies also have the option to seek similar testing done by private labs “if the drug is one that FDLE does not currently quantify.”

Defense Attorney Steve Casanova, who handles scores of local DUI cases, said traces of some drugs can stay in a person’s system for as long as thirty (30) days.

“How do you prove it was affecting him at the time of the arrest?” Casanova said.

In other cases, the suspect may have been prescribed the drug legally.

One state quantifying drug usage in DUI cases is Nevada, where the statute mentions specific quantities of some drugs that have to be present in a person’s blood or urine.

But even when the presence of drugs can be quantified, the effects they have on different people may not be the same, said Joanne Michaels, program director for the National Traffic Law Center in Virginia.

“What they do in different amounts in different people is still being studied,” she said. “Toxicologists are raising concerns because it can be an issue.”
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