I was recently pulled over about a week after finishing my probation up for a prior DUI that happened when I was 19. I was coming home from a friends house and did not have a drop of alcohol, however I take medication (benzodiazepines) for nerve pain. I did not have them with me in the car. They pulled me over because they said my tag light was out (when I bonded out and got a chance to look at it the right tag light was just a tiny bit dimmer than the other but still illuminated the entire license plate). The license plate was also from my moms car so I got charged with that as well because someone had stolen mine so I put that one on for obvious reasons. I also had an empty THC Cartridge in the car in which they tested because it still had resin and they gave me a felony for it. Afterwards I was asked to step out and do a field sobriety test in which I was on slanted pavement. Later at the jail they wanted to do a breathalyzer test and knowing that I hadn’t had any alcohol at all, I accepted and blew 0.00 yet they are still charging me with a DUI because they felt I was high on my prescription medication.... Is there any chance I can avoid jail time or get this reduced or dropped
From a lawyer’s perspective, this is an awesome case to try. You have loads of legal issues and possible/viable defenses. Call a local lawyer and set up a consultation right away.
Every case and situation is different and my answers will vary greatly depending on the specific facts of each one. My answers shouldn't be considered complete answers to each question and an answer doesn't establish an attorney/client relationship. Always seek the advice of your own attorney. I am licensed only in the State of Florida and in Federal courts. Florida Bar #337821, Admitted 1982.
As usual I agree with Mr. Blecher (and surely insofar as he states that ": this is an awesome case to try"... albeit for the lawyer who will truly enjoy litigating issues like yours).
However, the traffic stop was almost certainly legit (unlit / dim or not you had the wrong plate on the car), there is a boatload of circumstantial evidence against you and your prior will not help.
Please know that I am not trying to discourage you (not in the least... in fact, and again, most any DUI litigator would love to have your case... of course we - lawyers - risk nothing and gain everything) but I do want to educate you.
Yours is a completely circumstantial case (meaning that the State will have to rely upon circumstantial evidence to prove it's case against you) Circumstantial evidence is the exact opposite of direct evidence. Rather than being proof in and of itself circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact. Circumstantial evidence consists of a fact, or of a set of facts which, if proven, support the creation of an inference that whatever is asserted must be true.
In order for a police officer to arrest you, for any crime, the cop needs to have “probable cause”. This means that a cop must be convinced that there are at least enough facts and inferences available to make a reasonable person believe that there’s a good probability that you committed a crime, and this can be happen with out any direct evidence at all and with purely circumstantial evidence (in fact this is precisely what happened to you... traffic stop, empty THC cartridges in plain sight and your DL showed a prior DUI). But arrests and convictions are not the same thing.
While you can be convicted with no direct and with only circumstantial evidence, the standard for a conviction is significantly higher than the mere “probable cause” required for an arrest. In order to convict you the State is going to have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the crime charged.
Can they do that here? Beats me. I am pretty confident that your stop will pass muster. I do not have an opinion as to whether or not the officer's judgment that he had PC for an arrest (i.e. that a reasonable person could infer from your set of facts that you were in fact DUI) is viable (that will depend upon reading the police reports and viewing any digital footage (dash / body cam), if it exists. If you win on PC then you beat the case but if you lose then you are going to choose between a plea and a trial.
Having just gotten off probation for a DUI, it being a 2nd within 5 years, and you being in unlawful possession of THC cartridges (a separate felony offense) I suspect that the State won't be too considerate in their plea offer, meaning that your circumstantial case - the judgment - may well be left to a jury.
Now you know the scoop and if I were you then I would hire a skilled and experienced 813 area DUI lawyer, stat.
Wishing you luck and hoping that I have been helpful in answering your question.
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In order to avoid jail time you will need to sit down with your attorney and find the issues in the case to try and get this matter thrown out or reduced to a reckless (hillsborough generally won't reduce down to careless). I agree with my colleagues that, based upon the information you provided, there are multiple legal and factual issues involved that can be seized upon to give you a very good defense.
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