DUIs, Sobriety Tests, and Evidence

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Statistics are all over the place on DUIs, how many, how many in each county, how many result in death or serious injury.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes – that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017.”  So it’s a serious problem. The Tampa Legal Team and Joseph J. Registrato, Esq., are experienced in handling DUIs, challenging the validity of sobriety tests, and evaluating the evidence.

But at the center of this serious problem is often an average person who made a mistake, a mistake that harmed no one.   That aside, our average person is going to pay a high price — including being handcuffed and taken to jail where he will spend the night locked in a cell, then later on, two or three court appearances, a year on probation, a criminal record, loss of his driver’s license, and more than a thousand dollars in fines and costs.  Unless he can get a business purposes driver’s license, he may very well lose his job.  All that will happen because, in one police officer’s opinion, the average person was “under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired.”

But what about the breathalyzer?  It’s an important part of DUI law, but it doesn’t always tell the whole story, or even the correct story.   Despite the breathalyzer, a DUI conviction is often based on one person’s opinion.   For some lucky people, there is an alternate ending to this story, which we will get to shortly.    

Take this scenario, which is played out daily in every city from Miami to Anchorage.   A man or woman named Sam (or Samantha) is at a restaurant for a birthday party or a get together of co-workers from a downtown Tampa office.  Age doesn’t matter, nor does station in life, position, annual salary, or marital status.   Everyone, at one time or another, has been in Sam’s shoes.  Most people are drinking alcoholic beverages, vodka Martinis, rum and Coke, Scotch and Soda.  There’s food, too, appetizers mostly, shrimp on a skewer, rice bowls, chips and dip.  The mood is high, people are laughing and having fun; beer and wine and other booze is flowing freely.   Nobody is even thinking about Sam’s criminal culpability, he “looks fine,” and nobody’s worried about him.

After a few drinks, Sam feels the effects of the alcohol, (buzz), but has no trouble navigating the short walk to the rest room and then after a last drink, heads to his car for the ten-minute ride home.  Sam gives no thought to being “under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired;” in fact he’s never heard that combination of words used in a sentence.   

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Domestic Violence Allegations

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There may be a world where human beings are able to control their emotions when in stressful situations in the home with loved ones, but we have learned it is not Planet Earth. There is a long history of domestic violence in the United States that continues to the present day. When domestic violence allegations arise in relationships, the ripple effects can be far reaching.

Relationships are difficult, everybody knows that. There are always going to be arguments and differences of opinion, even if they are merely about whose turn it is to take out the garbage. We have seen that domestic violence can be very real, when people are injured or killed. We have also seen that domestic violence allegations can be fraudulent, where a charge of domestic violence is used as a ruse to gain advantage in a divorce or custody dispute.

Just by filing a domestic violence injunction in civil court, one person may get his or her partner thrown out of a joint residence and prohibited from coming back, even to visit children. That same person may be awarded temporary child support and alimony without a full hearing. Often hearings are set and held within 10 days or two weeks of the injunction being filed, which gives the accused violent offender little time to find a place to live or hire a lawyer to fight the domestic violence allegations.

It is common for the initial accuser to “take back” the domestic violence allegations, to change his or her mind and decide he or she does not wish for the legal action to move forward. When a civil injunction is involved, the person asking for the injunction may dismiss the case at any time, and even after it is put in place the accuser may still be able to ask that it be modified.

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