Above the Law? Apparently so…

Posted March 2nd, 2012 by Leah R with No Comments
From elaborate commercials, billboards, stickers, and presentations by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MAAD”) DUI has been villainized so that much of society looks at an individual charged with DUI as if they are a leper.  In every DUI I’ve prosecuted or defended there is, without fail, collateral reasons for why a person was driving poorly or may have weaved in their lane.  Depending on an individual’s medical history, there very well is good reason a person can’t stand on one leg and balance for 30 seconds with a Cop breathing down their neck, walk on a line like an Olympic balance beam athlete, or lose the elaborate Simon Says touch your nose game.  Regardless, if you or I get pulled over and Officer Friendly suspects we’re INTOXICATED TO THE EXTENT OUR NORMAL FACULTIES ARE IMPAIRED we will be asked to perform field sobriety exercises and 99 times out of 100, Officer Friendly will find a reason to take us downtown.  After all, if we fail field sobriety exercises, probable cause to arrest for a DUI is developed.
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I won’t go in to what I typically advise people to do if pulled over, but I do want to raise a little hell about how an assistant city attorney was given preferential treatment when she was pulled over for suspicion of DUI.  As you’ve likely read in the link, Port St. Lucie assistant city attorney Gabrielle Taylor was pulled over “because she had difficulty driving.”  Upon contact by an Officer Gronkowski alcohol was detected on Taylor’s breath and officer’s involved in the stop determined Taylor to be “borderline intoxicated.”  Seriously?  To add insult to injury, Taylor (like everyone I’ve ever seen pulled over for DUI) offered a collateral reason for her poor driving in that her friend had recently undergone some type of amputation.  I won’t speak to the amputation, but the fact that the officers took that in to consideration (only because of her assistant city attorney status no doubt) where it’s summarily dismissed in cases involving other people without Taylor’s connections is an outrage.
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The real kicker is the statement by police spokesman Tom Nichols where he asserted there was “insufficient probable cause” to make an arrest!!!  Hey you ass, perhaps had field sobriety exercises been performed to determine whether probable existed you would be able to make that statement!!!  It’s easier to glaze over certain things when it’s beneficial though isn’t it?  Further, you mean to say that having “difficulty driving,” alcohol on the breath of a driver, and an admission that she had just rolled out of a bar isn’t “considered” reasonable suspicion to perform field sobriety exercises to then determine whether probable cause exists to make an arrest in your town???  I wonder what else Ms. Taylor did to indicate she was “borderline intoxicated.”  That’s a nice little bubble over there apparently!  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised considering Chief Brian Reuthers responded when asked what would develop probable cause by saying probable cause would be developed by, “[b]eing involved in a crash, the person staggering and you have to determine probable cause that the person behind the wheel was impaired and from my understanding, it doesn’t rise to that level.”  No Chief Reuthers, maybe you should take a look at State v. Taylor, 648 So.2d 701 (Fla. 1995), a case that’s been around since 1995 and you’ll see that booze on the breath and crappy driving is a ticket to a legitimate request for field sobriety exercises.  That is unless you’re well connected in Port St. Lucie.
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Once that booze breath and crappy driving gets you the ticket to put the person through the field sobriety gamut, you’ll probably get bad performance and thus develop your probable cause for a DUI arrest without the need of a traffic crash.
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This situation makes me mad as hell.  If you’ve been arrested for DUI and need a St. Petersburg DUI lawyer to fight for you, contact the St. Petersburg DUI lawyers at The Mayberry Law Firm today.  727-771-3847.

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