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If you have been convicted of a DUI in Tampa, you may find yourself ordered to complete community service. While your attorney can assist you in fulfilling the terms of the order, you may be more inclined to take care of things on your own.

It is important to understand that no company or organization is required by law to allow you to complete community service within their walls. There are several organizations, however, that welcome those volunteers who may be completing service that is more ordered than voluntary.

Here are the basics of finding and completing your community service.

Getting Started

In all but the fewest cases, your service will have to be completed at a nonprofit organization that is registered with the state of Florida. You will also have to get the location approved by the court or your probation officer before your first day. Your attorney or probation officer can give you a detailed list of regulations when it comes to community service.

Making Contact

Do not jump into a conversation with a volunteer coordinator telling them that you have been ordered to complete service. Instead, simply tell them that you would like to volunteer with their agency and that you will need documents completed with regards to the amount of hours you complete.

If you are asked to fill out any forms or are asked why you want to volunteer, it is at that time that you should admit to having to complete community service. You should also have a great answer ready as to why you chose that particular organization.

Do Not Wait

Do not wait until the last minute to find an opportunity. Call several weeks in advance to secure a position. Waiting for any length of time could mean that all of the volunteer positions at your chosen organization have been taken.

You Can Get Fired

Keep in mind that you can be let go from a volunteer position even though you aren’t getting paid. Be on your best behavior, and treat the opportunity as you would a paying job. If you are let go, you will have to report that information to the court and may find yourself facing sanctions.

If you have been ordered to complete community service, be sure that you are 100% clear on the rules and regulations of the program. If you have any questions about volunteering, speak to your attorney or probation officer immediately. Community service benefits you and the organization you volunteer with. Approach it with the right attitude and you may be surprised at what you gain.

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You went out with some friends after work and enjoyed a couple adult beverages. You thought you were okay to drive home, but you have found yourself pulled over and being told that the officer suspects you of driving under the influence. Your stomach sinks as the handcuffs are placed around your wrists and you are taken to the station.

There is no doubt that being arrested for DUI is frightening and stressful. It doesn’t mean, though, that the rest of your life is ruined or you do not have a right to fight your case. There are serious consequences that come along with a DUI charge, but there are also several myths and misconceptions. When you believe these myths, you may be more anxious than necessary. The situation you find yourself in may not be as hopeless as you have been led to believe.

Myth 1: I am going to be harshly punished.

It’s not unusual for people to believe that they are going to get the maximum sentence when they are charged with a DUI. In many cases, this is not true, especially when the person charged hires an experienced attorney. Typically, a prosecutor will be willing to enter into a plea bargain with the defendant, to avoid going to trial.

Myth 2: My blood alcohol content is all the evidence needed.

Even if you chose to take a chemical test, your score may not be all the evidence that is needed to convict you. Two people can have the exact same blood alcohol content and have different levels of impairment.

Myth 3: Because I submitted to testing, I cannot challenge the results.

There are many factors that affect the readings of a chemical test. Issues may arise with the maintenance of the machine, the time the person was tested, or even how the test was administered.

Myth 4: I have to go to trial to challenge my charges.

Less than 10 percent of DUI cases end up in front of a judge in Florida. Again, this is because experienced attorneys understand how to work with prosecutors and negotiate favorable outcomes before a trial is necessary.

Myth 5: Any criminal defense attorney will do.

This is simply not true. If you are charged with a DUI, you want a criminal defense attorney who specializes in these types of cases. Each type of criminal law has its own nuances, making finding an attorney experienced in defending DUI charges important. It is easy to find a lawyer — it takes a bit more time to find a lawyer who has the knowledge and experience you need to fight a DUI charge.

If you have been charged with DUI in Orlando or the surrounding area, you need an experienced attorney standing by your side as you work to defend your rights. Call our team today for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your charges and arrest and help you make the best legal decisions for your unique situation. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

You are pulled over and asked to perform a field sobriety test. You fail. But…wait! You really haven’t been drinking. Is it possible to fail a field sobriety test when you are perfectly sober? You bet it is.

Field sobriety tests are unreliable. It is that simple. Yet law enforcement agencies around the country continue to use them to aid in the determination if someone is driving under the influence. Police use the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand, and the walk-and-turn test to help decide if someone is impaired. There are other tests utilized as well, but these are the three that are most common.

These tests are meant to exhibit your coordination, motor skills, and balance after you have consumed alcohol. While they do test coordination, there are any number of reasons why a sober person could fail one or all of them.

Nerves. When you see a police car, does your heart race a little bit faster? Imagine the stress and anxiety of being not only pulled over, but asked to perform these tests on the side of the road. The anxiety you feel can make it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.

Inner ear problems. Ear problems and other health ailments can have an effect on your ability to maintain proper balance. Try explaining to a police officer that your earache has caused you to fail a field sobriety test.

Age and weight. Older persons and those carrying excess weight may find it difficult to perform field sobriety tests in such a way that they are considered to have passed them. Knee and lower back pain may make it difficult to perform the one-leg stand for example.

Exhaustion. While it is not illegal to drive when you are overly tired, it can be dangerous to do so. Your judgment is impaired and your reaction time is slower. You state of exhaustion could also affect how well you perform a field sobriety test.

Officer interpretation. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a field sobriety test. Whether you pass or not can be based upon the officer’s interpretation of your performance. This is one of the main reasons why these tests are considered to be so flawed.

If you have been arrested for DUI, whether or not you have participated in field sobriety tests, we are here for you. Contact our offices immediately so that we may begin representing you today.

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beerParents of teenage children have many thoughts when it comes to underage drinking. Some of those ideas are based on fact, and some are simply myth. Raising teens is a difficult job made harder by peer and societal pressures. As a parent, having the facts can be helpful when you are trying to impart life lessons to your children. Here’s what you need to know about teens and alcohol.

More Teens Consume Alcohol Than You Think

If you ask parents, they believe that teens drink, but at far lower rates than is reality. According to the Institute of Medicine National Research Council of the National Academies, one in six teenagers binge drink. This is a stark difference in the one in 100 teens that parents believe binge drink.

Alcohol Kills More Than All Illegal Drugs Combined

When teens and alcohol are combined, 4,700 people are killed each year. That is 4,700 families that are negatively affected by a child’s decision to consume alcohol.

One-Quarter of Car Accidents Involve Alcohol

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death of teenagers. Approximately one-quarter of those collisions are caused by a driver who has consumed alcohol prior to reaching the age of 21.

Young Drinkers Are At Risk of Collision

When a child begins to drink at an early age, they are seven times more likely than others to be involved in a crash that can be attributed to alcohol.

High School Drop Outs

High school is a stressful time for any teenager. Teens who consume alcohol are five times as likely as their peers to drop out of high school, profoundly affecting the rest of their lives.

Drinking by 10th Grade

According to the Ann Arbor Institute for Social Research, half of all 10th grade student admit to drinking alcohol. The average age of a 10th grader? 15.

You know your child better than anyone, but you should never assume that your teen is not drinking. By the time your child is in high school, there is a 50% chance that he or she has at least tried an alcoholic beverage, if not binge drinking or consuming alcohol on a regular basis.

If you do not want your child to drink alcohol, tell them so. The conversation should be one that every parent of a teenager has. Teach your child the facts and help ensure their safety and the safety of others.

If your teen has been charged with an alcohol-related crime, an experienced attorney can fight for your rights. Call us now so we can review your case. We are here for you and your family now.

Boating is a popular activity in Florida and many people use boats for recreation and fishing. Laws apply to boating as they do to driving. A boating DUI, also known as a BUI, is the operation of a motor-driven boat while under the influence. Some of the same rules apply to operating a boat as they do to a car. There are also some differences. The legal limit for those aged 21 and over is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration).

BUI Laws

A person can be arrested for BUI in Florida. The police may make the arrest, or it may also occur through the Coast Guard or Fish and Wildlife Officers. The case is heard in the county where the offense occurred. BUI is a criminal offense and if convicted comes with penalties. These penalties may include fines and a potential jail sentence.

Implied Consent

Florida has implied consent laws. This means that anyone who operates a boat is automatically giving consent to testing for alcohol or drugs if asked to do so by a member of law enforcement. If you refuse to submit to testing you may be subject to a fine of up to $500. Field sobriety tests may be requested. These are the same as those performed for DUI. They include such tests as the walk and turn test, reciting the alphabet, and standing on one leg, to name just a few. These are done as a way to determine whether it is likely that you have been drinking.

BUI Tests

BUI tests are the same as those for DUI. Often, a breathalyzer test is performed at the scene. Additionally, the police may request that you take a chemical test to measure BAC through a urine or blood sample. If you have been arrested for BUI it is essential to get help from an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will review the situation and determine the best defense to utilize. The sooner you contact a lawyer the better.

Fighting BUI

If you have been charged with BUI do not admit guilt. BUI, like DUI, can be defended in court. However, it requires an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your lawyer will review all the information including any witness statements and other detailed data to determine the best way to move forward. BUI, like DUI, is a serious charge and one that requires assistance from a knowledgeable attorney.

DUI is a one of the most common reasons for arrest in Florida. The laws and penalties regarding DUI are strict in Florida as they are in other states. Many people wonder how breath or blood tests work to determine alcohol in the system and question whether they should submit to these and other sobriety tests. The answer is a complex one. In the state of Florida the law stipulates that you submit to taking a breath or blood test if asked to do so by law enforcement. Failure to submit to these tests could result in separate penalties including the suspension of your driver’s license.


BAC or blood alcohol content is the percentage of alcohol that is in your bloodstream. Those over the age of 21 are considered DUI if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

  • 0.02% – Relaxed, minor loss of judgment impaired multi-functioning, lowered visual tracking.
  • 0.05% – Lowered inhibitions, reduced alertness, some loss of small muscle control, some impairment of judgment.
  • 0.08% – Reduced muscle coordination, impaired judgment and reasoning abilities, inability to focus, memory loss (short-term).
  • 0.10% – Slurred speech, inability to coordinate and think, visual impairments, lowered reaction times, false sense of control.
  • 0.15% – Greatly lowered muscle control, vomiting, loss of balance, substantial impairment (reaction times, processing).

According to these figures you can easily see that driving after the consumption of any alcohol is driving impaired.

Submitting to a Breathalyzer or Blood Test

The decision to submit to a breathalyzer test should be made by you and you alone. There are some things to consider when determining whether to take the test. Think about how many drinks you have consumed and over what period of time.

Some of the considerations include:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Period of time alcohol is consumed
  • Weight and body mass of the individual

In general, you may be able to calculate your own BAC based on these factors. For example, if you have only consumed one 12 ounce glass of beer over a two hour period it is safe to say that your BAC is under the legal limit. However, keep in mind that even if you pass a breathalyzer test you may still be arrested for DUI if you are driving erratically and exhibiting obvious signs of DUI. Remember that if you have had anything to drink your thinking is impaired and you may feel less drunk than you actually are. If you are quite sure that you are under the legal limit you may want to take the breathalyzer test. On the other hand, if you feel that you are over the legal limit you may want to refuse the test, no matter the consequences.

Defending DUI

No matter what the results of your breathalyzer, rest assured that with the help of an experienced DUI attorney you can fight the charges. Your attorney will review the circumstances around your arrest as well as how the breathalyzer test was given. There are also some important things your attorney will review about the way the results of your breath test were analyzed. Sobriety tests are not foolproof – in fact, they are often found to be incorrect. This factor, along with others in your case, will help your attorney defend you against the serious DUI charges.

One of the first questions we get when we talk to a prospective client who has been charged with DUI is, “Could I have refused the breath test?” The simple answer is, “Yes.” The more complicated answer follows.

When you are pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, there are two standard tests that police will ask you to perform. One is the field sobriety test (physical coordination) and the other is a chemical test (blood, breath or urine). You are within your legal right to refuse to take the field tests as they are considered voluntary, however, current Florida law requires that you take a chemical test if requested, if the officer has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. Refusing a chemical test could have consequences, including another criminal charge.

Implied Consent

When you sign your driver’s license, you are giving implied consent. In other words, you are stating that if you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, you will perform the chemical tests that are asked of you. It does not mean, however, that you cannot refuse to do so. What it does mean is that if you change your mind and refuse, you can be charged with an additional crime.


If you choose to refuse to take the test, you may face more severe penalties than if you had agreed to take the test. The penalties you can reasonably expect to face include a license suspension, fine, jail time and the required use of an interlock ignition device. The prosecution will attempt to use your refusal as evidence that you “must have” been intoxicated. Why would you have refused otherwise?

In Florida, you face a one year license suspension for your first refusal. A second or third refusal will have your license suspended for 18 months. Of course, an experienced attorney may be able to fight these penalties for you depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your arrest.

If you have been charged with DUI in Orlando, call our team of experienced attorneys. We will review the details of your stop and arrest and advise you of the options available to you. Your first consultation with our office is free. Call now or browse our website for more information about our firm and how we can assist you.

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In Florida, boating under the influence, BUI, is a crime that is taken very seriously. It is due, in part, to the fact that the state leads the nation in boating deaths each year. Of these accidents, nearly one-third involve alcohol. In more than half of the accidents, the person who died either capsized their boat or fell overboard.

If you are charged with BUI anywhere in Florida, you can expect that you are prosecuted aggressively. The good news for you, and anyone else charged with BUI, is that not all cases lead to conviction. In many cases, your charges could be reduced or dismissed altogether.

Elements of BUI

It is important to understand that it is not illegal to consume alcohol on a boat. What is illegal is to operate the boat after you have consumed an intoxicant. An arrest can occur if a law enforcement officer suspects you of drinking and boating or if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.

Stopping the Boat

Just like stopping a vehicle, law enforcement officers on the water must have cause to stop your boat. In most cases, law enforcement officers believe that you are violating some regulation or speeding. Officers can also stop you for a random equipment check, or to be sure you are complying with fishing or safety regulations.

If the officer on your boat suspects that you may have been drinking, they can ask that you complete sobriety tests, up to and including a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine.

If you are charged with and convicted of BUI, you will have a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life. It is important to hire an attorney if you are charged with BUI in order to help lessen the consequences of your arrest.

When you are charged with boating under the influence in Florida, call our office. We have experienced team members who are ready to provide you with a free case evaluation. Call us now so that we can provide you with your options.

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Thanks to Florida’s implied consent law, you are required to submit to a chemical test if you are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. If you refuse to submit to a test in conjunction with a driving under the influence arrest, you could be facing additional criminal consequences versus the traditional consequences of a DUI.

The way that current law is written, refusing to submit to a chemical test has fewer legal consequences than those associated with a DUI conviction. For example, if you refuse to submit to a test during your first DUI arrest, you will face a license suspension of one year. If you are convicted of DUI, you are subject to a fine, jail time, community service and more.

At first thought, you may think that it is a good idea to refuse to submit to a breath test and lose your license instead. Think again before you make your decision. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can still be convicted of DUI. This is where many people go wrong. You are not protecting yourself from a DUI conviction simply because the arresting officer does not have a number to give the court. There could very well be other evidence against you.

If you have already been pulled over and chose to refuse a chemical test, you need to speak with an experienced attorney immediately. Your refusal may work in your favor, then again, it may not. Only an attorney with knowledge of DUI law can assist you.

If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, reach out to our offices today. A member of our team will review the details of your arrest and advise you how to best proceed. Whether or not you refused to submit to a chemical test, we can help you. Call now  for a free initial case evaluation and the best advice we can give you.

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Unfortunately, Florida law does not allow you to request or consult with an attorney before you decide whether or not to take a breath test. The law makes a distinction between something you’re entitled to (a right) and something you elect to do (an option), and taking a breath test is an option. As long ago as 1986, in the case of State v. Hoch, 500 So.2d 597 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986), the Third District Court of Appeals ruled that a citizen’s Sixth Amendment right to an attorney doesn’t apply to breath tests, because your life, liberty and freedom don’t hang in the balance. Nor do Fifth Amendment rights apply, because breath tests are not verbal admissions on your part – they’re concrete evidence. The law states that ou don’t need an attorney present before law enforcement can collect evidence. As recently as 1995, the Fifth District Court agreed with these premises in the case of State v. Burns, 611 So.2d 842, 848 (Fla. 5th DDCA 1995). That court said that both breathalyzer tests and field sobriety tests are merely the prosecution’s way of collecting evidence against you, so you don’t have the right to an attorney before deciding to take the tests or to decline the option.

You may have missed it if you weren’t watching closely. Late last year, just before Christmas rolled around, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that any person with a prescription for medical cannabis who was charged with DUI had the right to contest those charges. This would force law enforcement officials who issued the charges to prove that the person had an amount of THC in their system that impaired their ability to drive safely. Proving how much THC a person has in their system while they are behind the wheel is difficult as there are no immediately accurate tests available.
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In 2013, Nadir Ishak was arrested in the city of Mesa. An officer watched as Ishak’s car drifted into another lane and pulled him over. The officer noted that Ishak had bloodshot eyes. Ishak was ultimately charged with driving with cannabis in his system and driving under the influence. He was convicted of the cannabis charge, but not the DUI. According to reports, Ishak was denied the ability to present evidence to the court that he was registered through the state as a medical cannabis patient.

In the opinion of the court, Judge Diane M. Johnsen stated that having any amount of cannabis in the system does not preclude a person from driving safely. Driving abilities are not automatically impaired. The opinion also states that there is no wording in the law that says when a person with cannabis in their system is considered impaired. Therefore, it is reasonable that those charged with DUI because of having cannabis in their system be permitted to challenge the charge.

The appeals court ruled that a person charged with DUI due to cannabis can present evidence that they were not impaired through cross examination. The defendant may question the arresting officer and forensic scientists called to testify by the state. How this ruling will affect laws or the workings of other courts across the country remains to be seen.

As it stands, people who a police officer believes to be impaired due to having THC in their system and driving in a way that is not safe may be charged with driving under the influence. If these people attempt to contest their charges, they may, but without a ruling such as this in their own state, the contesting of those charges may be difficult. For now. Thanks to the ruling in Arizona, that may change in the near future.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Orlando, it is important to understand that a conviction could have lifelong consequences. While a first instinct may be to plead guilty and accept your fate, doing so could cost you greatly. It is in your best interest to consult an attorney experienced in DUI law. Reach out to our team for a free case evaluation and learn about your legal options. We are here to help you defend yourself against your charges.

shutterstock_404174317Most people are aware that a conviction of driving under the influence can bring hefty penalties. A person convicted of drunk driving faces jail time, hefty fines and court costs. What many people don’t consider are all of the consequences, as most are only worried about the immediate ones. Here are five consequences, including jail time, that should be considered before you make the decision to drink and drive.

1. Inconvenience

If you are convicted of a DUI, you will lose your license for a specific amount of time. This can be a minor annoyance or a major inconvenience. Driving is something that most of us take for granted. When we can’t do it, we have to rely on friends and family members, or even public transportation, to get us where we need to go.

2. Jail Time

Being sentenced to jail is perhaps the most daunting of all penalties imposed after a drunk driving conviction. You may be able to secure an alternative sentence, but being sent to jail is a distinct and very real possibility. If you are forced to spend time behind bars, your entire life could be effected.

3. Employment

For some people, a license is required to maintain their employment. A driving under the influence conviction can mean that the license cannot be renewed. If this happens, you will experience financial hardship that can effectively ruin your life. If your job includes the need to drive, you could find that you are not able to maintain your current employment.

4. Criminal Record

Once you are convicted of a DUI, you are subject to a lifetime’s criminal record. This will follow you and can impact your ability to find housing, secure credit or maintain employment. A criminal conviction is a black mark against you that you don’t want to deal with.

5. Emotional Toll

Many people don’t stop to consider the emotional toll of a conviction for DUI. You may become embarrassed or afraid to interact with friends and family. You might find that you are persistently anxious or stressed out. It may not only be the conviction that weighs heavily on your mind, but any injury or damage that you caused as a result of your actions. Imagine living with the knowledge that you hurt someone.

Being convicted of a DUI is nothing to scoff at. A conviction of this type can have lasting consequences that you haven’t begun to consider yet. If you are in danger of being convicted of a DUI, you need immediate assistance.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Orlando, call our team of attorneys now. We will schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and advise you of the options available to you under current state law. Call now for assistance and let us help ensure that your consequences, if any, are fair and just.