Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day DUI Crackdown Could Cause Bad Arrests in Florida

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation’s DUI Crackdown and how it could cause bad arrests.


The U.S. DOT’s nationwide Labor Day Crackdown on DUI, “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” is certain to affect local law enforcement’s activities.  Oftentimes, when spurred by government programs, this year in particular costing $13M, and department quotas (which law enforcement will always deny), there can potentially be bad and defensible DUI arrests.

Why This Matters To You:

Nationwide crackdowns can influence the behavior of local law enforcement.  Oftentimes, though they may deny it, local police departments and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will coordinate their efforts around a campaign like the U.S. DOT’s Labor Day DUI Crackdown.

In many cases, quotas may be assigned, and although they are unwritten, or disguised as “suggestions” or “guidelines” – the meaning is clear to the officer.  The effects of such quotas, especially when under the larger umbrella of a nationwide crackdown, can be significant and lead officers to make DUI arrests where under other circumstances there may have been insufficient evidence to do so.

Take for example an Inside Edition investigation that focused on the Lakeland Police Department.  The same police officer pulled over and arrested two separate individuals within months of each other – both of whom informed the officer that they had nothing to drink – and both were arrested and taken to jail for DUI.  After blood and breath alcohol tests in both cases that were negative, charges were ultimately dropped.  This same police department was found to have a “performance standard” that required officers to make 10 DUI arrests per month.  Imagine what that “performance standard” (or quota) is during a “Nationwide DUI Crackdown” supported by the government - and are all of those DUI arrests justified?

Clearly there could be cases during the Labor Day DUI Crackdown where bad DUI arrests could be made given the pressure of the nationwide campaign, local law enforcement quotas, and federal funding provided to law enforcement agencies who participate.  Retaining a criminal defense attorney is important if you believe you have been arrested on bad DUI charges.

In many DUI cases there are potential defenses that may be utilized to reduce the charges, or even have the charges dropped altogether:

·         Lack of Evidence
·         Procedural Issues
·         Failure to Read Miranda Warnings

What To Do Next:

If You Have Been Arrested for DUI:

·         Do not speak to the police - ask to have an attorney present.
·         Do not give a written statement – again, ask to have an attorney present.
·         Contact an attorney immediately.

You only have TEN (10) DAYS after your arrest to file a motion to challenge the administrative suspension of your license.  You must act within ten (10) days of your arrest to challenge this administrative suspension.  Hiring an attorney immediately to challenge the suspension and to negotiate on your behalf with the State Attorney’s Office gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal charges.

If you have been arrested for DUI in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Pinellas County, or Tampa, Hillsborough County, or Bradenton, Manatee, Polk, Pasco, or Sarasota Counties, FL contact a St. Petersburg DUI Attorney to discuss possible defenses that may exist in your case.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation.