A car accident leads to a traffic crash investigation which often time leads to criminal charges such as drunk driving or DUI. Floridians should be aware that the law requires them to cooperate with a traffic crash investigation. The intent behind the reporting requirement is to encourage true and uninhibited reporting of accidents, with the ultimate goal of making highways safer.
In the drug defense subset of criminal defense an amazing number of cases begin at a traffic stop. One example is issues with the license plate or tag, whether it is the infamous tag light, expired tag or an obscured tag. These stops are difficult to defend without a video showing the cops to be incorrect (or worse).
There are all kinds of urban myths in DUI / DWI law. In the context of a Florida DUI, a Florida appellate court has interpreted Florida law as allowing a conviction to a New York charge of driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI), section 1192 (1), to be used to enhance a Florida DUI. In addition, a conviction to a New York DWAI can be used for purposes of suspending a Florida driver's license. This strikes many as odd since the New York offense of DWAI is specifically not a DUI pursuant to New York law. Many people are surprised to learn that what one state does not consider a DUI is treated as such in Florida.
Tampering with evidence is a criminal offense in Florida. Tampering with evidence is a third degree felony; the maximum penalty is five (5) years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. To prove tampering, the State has to prove that a person while knowing that a criminal trial, proceeding or an investigation has begun or is about to be started, then alters, destroys, conceals or removes anything with the intent to impair its credibility, availability or use-ability in trial. Many times tampering is not what is shown by the entertainment industry like fabrication or threatening a witness; instead several tampering cases begin at the all important traffic stop and escalates when an officer thinks that evidence is tossed, thrown or eaten.
Arrests and the resulting criminal accusations happen every day. Common questions are how can they arrest when there are conflicting stories or can they arrest for whatever just happened. Unfortunately, that is the wrong question. If someone was just arrested, then the answer is yes the cops can and in fact they did just make that arrest. Now the accused has to defend themselves but the only place that happens is at a trial and that will not be for several months.
Often times, people will call the office immediately after having received a traffic ticket and ask "what are my options?" The answer like everything else in the law is that "it depends". Traffic citations can be criminal or civil infractions. People accused of some civil traffic infractions are required to have a hearing. We refer to these as mandatory citations or appearance required citations and the citaiton should have a box checked next to "Infraction court appearance requred".
Almost every week I hear from people who have just been informed that they have been habitualized in the worst way. Apparently, ordinary people (not defense lawyers) trust the government and just pay a fine on a traffic ticket, especially when that fine is overdue. A common complaint will go something like this: "I just paid a ticket to get my license back and now I am being told that I am a Habitual Traffic Offender and my license is gone for five (5) years." Almost always the ticket that was paid recently is for driving on a suspended license.
Arrested for DUI? Before going to court, a driver's license will be suspended 10 days after the DUI arrest if the person refused to give a breath sample or sumbmitted to the test and blew over a .08. As to the license to drive, there are three options (1) request a hearing to reverse the suspension called a Formal Review Hearing, (2) request hearing for an immediate hardship license or (3) do nothing. The choice to do nothing is a choice to accept a driver license suspension. The deadline to file an election for a hearing at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is also the same 10 day period before the suspension is imposed. The DUI citation is a driving permit for those same 10 days.
In a criminal case, surrender or turning yourself in is the best policy and really the only way to resolve an open warrant or arrest order, sometimes also called a capias . Some may argue with that statement but really every other option is merely turning your self in or surrendering in a different form.
In Florida, the criminal offense of Hit and Run is called Leaving the Scene of an Accident. The severity of this crime sometimes referred to as LSA, as do so many other criminal traffic charges, depends upon the nature and the extent of the damage.