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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.

Most people understand what road rage is. The phenomenon is on the news, it’s in the papers, and stories of it abound online. What some do not understand is that they may be the very real cause of someone else’s road rage. Sure, you may be cool as a cucumber behind the wheel, but are your driving habits causing others to see red? Read on to discover if your driving habits could be the fuel that lights the fire under someone else’s rage.


Yes. We have all been behind the driver who insists on traveling miles under the speed limit. For them, it’s a Sunday drive every day. Let’s face it: No matter how close you get to their bumper, they aren’t going to travel any faster.

Tailgating is one of the top causes of road rage. Keep at least a car’s length between you and the car in front of you. If you simply can’t stay off of their bumper, pass the car when it is safe to do so or head down another street.


Your car’s horn is meant to be a brief signal to another driver, not an entire conversation. Use your horn sparingly and only when necessary. Like tailgating, laying on the horn isn’t going to make anyone drive differently and may, in fact, make them quite angry.

Headlight Flashing

Unless you are trying to signal that someone’s brights are on or their headlights are off, don’t flash your own. Flashing headlights is not only annoying, but it can distract other drivers.

Switching Lanes

You are not a Nascar driver. The left lane is for passing slower moving vehicles ahead of you. It is not meant to be used so you can weave in and out of traffic going 20 mph faster than everyone else. Stay in the right-hand lane and maintain the speed limit.


Throwing your hands up, giving the one-finger salute, and shooting a death stare at another driver does nothing for you. Did they mess up? Maybe. Did they annoy you? Probably. You never know how the person is going to react to your gestures. Keep them to yourself.

Staying Glued to Your Phone

There is almost nothing that irritates other drivers more than one who is so engrossed in a cell phone conversation that they are a danger to others on the road. You may think you can talk on your phone safely while you drive, but you are wrong. Stay off the phone and pay attention to the road.

If any of these things sound like what you do when you are behind the wheel, you need to take a closer look at your driving habits. You may very well be the cause of road rage.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Orlando or the surrounding area, call our offices today. Our experienced team of attorneys is ready to defend you to the best of their ability. Call now.

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Police officers are tasked with making sure that traffic rules are followed, so traffic tickets happen on a daily basis. Most people have been stopped for a ticket. If you are pulled over by police there are several things to keep in mind. You must stay inside your car and wait until the police officer approaches you. You will be asked to provide your driver’s license along with your insurance card. You may also be requested to provide registration documentation for the vehicle.

Police Etiquette

It is important that you remain calm and treat the police officer with respect at all times. This will certainly help to ensure that you get the best possible results. If you do not agree with the officer you may say so in a polite manner. If there is something you do not understand ask the officer. If stopped for speeding you may want to know how your speed was determined. This could be very important later if you decide to go to court.

Tickets in Florida

Florida assesses points on your driver’s license when you have been found guilty of a moving violation or accident. When you gather too many points in a period of time, the result could be a suspended license. You have several options when you receive a ticket. You may pay the ticket. Keep in mind, however, that this means you were guilty of the offense and the associated points will be assessed. You may choose to go to court to fight the ticket. Another option that may be available for some people is to attend traffic classes.

Fighting Traffic Tickets

It may be well worth your time to fight the ticket. If you already have points on your record it may be wise to avoid getting more points and risk a possible license suspension. Fighting traffic tickets in court can be very successful, particularly if you engage the help of an experienced traffic attorney. Your lawyer will review all aspects of your ticket to present the best possible defense.


Are License Plate Scanner Legal?

License plate scanners, also called automatic license plate recognition systems (ALPR), are current technology devices often used by police. These units are able to scan license plates very quickly and match them to a database. ALPR systems are a legal tool utilized by law enforcement.

What Do License Plate Scanners Flag?

ALPR systems are designed to look at license plate numbers and in split-second they can check the police database. The database is set up to flag for specific items such as:

  • License plate tags that are expired
  • Registration that is missing or expired
  • Stolen vehicles
  • Expired insurance
  • Suspended driver’s license
  • Unpaid fines
  • Outstanding warrants
  • Criminal suspects

ALPR systems are often used directly in police cars or they can be mounted to permanent locations to scan vehicles as they pass by. If a problem is detected, the police officer will perform a traffic stop.

Are ALPR Systems Legal?

The short answer is yes. In most situations, law enforcement can use these systems to assist them in their daily work. While these systems may be legal, some people feel they are too intrusive. These systems are in place to find potential violations. However, it is important to remember that they are used as tools only and a legal traffic stop must be performed in accordance with the law.

How to Fight Traffic Tickets

If you have been stopped by law enforcement as a result of the use of an ALPR system you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Traffic tickets, generally speaking, allow you less than a month to either pay them or request a hearing. Tickets for some offenses may allow you to resolve the problem. For example, if you get a ticket for lack of insurance, you may be able to show proof of insurance to resolve the situation.

If you have received a traffic ticket or have been stopped as a result of the ALPR system, call your lawyer immediately. Your attorney will review the situation to determine whether the traffic stop was conducted legally. Further, if the matter requires a hearing, don’t simply pay the ticket because that means you agree to a guilty plea. Contact a experienced traffic attorney to assess the situation and provide you with your available options.


What Are Sobriety Checkpoints?

Sobriety checkpoints, also known as DUI checkpoints, are special areas of the roadway that have been designated for law enforcement checks. These checkpoints target DUI but also address other infractions as well. Sobriety checkpoints are most often implemented on holiday weekends such as Memorial Day. Drivers should expect to encounter a DUI checkpoint in some of the busiest roadways over the long weekend.

Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

Yes, generally speaking, if implemented according to the proper procedures, these types of checkpoints are legal. In fact, often times additional law enforcement officers are brought on board specifically to man these checkpoints over busy weekends. The checkpoints must be authorized and a plan must be implemented. The plan includes the location of the checkpoint and the way the random vehicles will be checked. For example, a plan may call for every 4th car to be stopped and checked.

What Happens in a Checkpoint Stop?

A typical checkpoint stop is often rather quick. The officer will approach the vehicle and ask for driver’s license for review. Your license plate may be scanned to determine whether there are any outstanding tickets. If the officer feels it is necessary, the driver may be requested to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. These consist of a variety of things that may include walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, and standing on one leg. If the officer feels you have shown signs of insobriety he may request that you take a DUI test.

Do I Have to Take a DUI Test?

Florida has an implied consent law in place. Every driver has automatically agreed to submit to a DUI test simply by accepting his or her driver’s license. A member of law enforcement may request a DUI test on the scene, which is almost always in the form of a breathalyzer test. Failure to submit to this test can result in additional charges against you that include an automatic license suspension. Additionally, the fact that you refused will be used against you in your DUI case in court.

Fighting DUI Charges

DUI charges are serious and can result in harsh consequences that may include license suspension, fines, and even jail time. If you have been charged with DUI it is essential to speak to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review all aspects of your situation and determine whether any mistakes were made during the process of your testing and arrest. It is possible to fight charges and obtain a favorable outcome.

Credit: Michael GilIf you are ever involved in a car accident, the most important thing you can do is to stay at the scene. Even if an accident was not your fault, if you run away you will be the one charged with a hit-and-run. You can even be charged if the other vehicle was doing something illegal at the time.

One case like this happened on December 6th in Orlando. A black Mercedes was seen fleeing after striking a bicycle that was crossing the road illegally at 3:20 AM. It happened on State Route 50. Two teens were on the bicycle. One is now dead and the other is critically injured. Authorities are looking for the Mercedes, which likely has extensive damage.

If the driver had stayed at the scene and talked with the police, the consequences for them would probably be fairly minor. It was very early in the morning, a time when you don’t expect cyclists to be around. They also crossed illegally. A very good cause could have been made that this was just a tragic accident. Unfortunately for this driver, they ran, and now they’re a suspect.

Again, if you get in a car accident stay on the scene and give your report! If you fear being arrested for what happened, know that there are people willing to fight on your behalf. Call the law offices of Katz & Phillips if you have been charged with a vehicular crime. We can help.

As the passenger in a vehicle you may feel safe and free from any type of problems, especially those that could occur during a traffic stop. However, it is important to understand your rights as a passenger – they may not be what you think. If you are traveling in a vehicle with a driver and are stopped by law enforcement the driver as well as any passengers may be detained. Any time the driver is pulled over the passengers are not simply free to leave. In most cases the vehicle (along with the driver and passengers) are considered to be “seized” by the police for purposes of the traffic stop.

What Happens During a Traffic Stop?

A traffic stop may be made for a simple problem such as speeding or failure to signal. Many times a simple traffic stop turns into much more after the police stop the vehicle. If the police think that you may be driving under the influence or may have weapons in the vehicle they will need to investigate further. This can involve the passenger if, for example, drugs are found under the passenger’s seat or in your pocket. The police only need probable cause to search a vehicle and that often doesn’t require a warrant. Law enforcement is allowed to search various areas if he or she feels there is probable cause to suspect illegal activity. Police may search the vehicle including under seats and inside the trunk. Additionally, they may search the people in the vehicle as well as their belongings such as purses and backpacks. If the police believe there may be an illegal substance in the car they may employ a trained dog.

What to Do During a Traffic Stop

If you are a passenger during a traffic stop you should follow a few basic rules. Remain calm and allow the driver and police officer to interact without interference. Do not do anything that could be negatively perceived by the police. For example, trying to hide drugs, alcohol, or weapons will be noticed by police and will get you into trouble. Remain in the car until the officer asks you to exit. Be respectful of the officer. If you are placed in a police vehicle do not speak while there – keep in mind that there may be a video camera recording you. Many people think that the driver is responsible for everything that happens in the car but it isn’t always true. A passenger is held responsible for any illegal substances that are found in his possession or nearby.

Defending Against Charges as a Passenger

If you have been arrested as a passenger in a vehicle it will most likely be due to drug, weapon, or alcohol charges. As with any arrest, it must be performed legally and your rights must be read to you. Passengers can defend these charges by challenging the initial traffic stop as well as the search of the vehicle that lead to the arrest. For these reasons the charges may be thrown out. Choose a defense attorney with experience handling these types of cases. The attorney will review all aspects of your case to determine the best way to proceed and how to defend your rights to achieve the best possible outcome.



Is It Illegal to Flash your Lights as a Warning of a Speed Trap?

In Florida, as elsewhere in the country, police set up speed traps to catch speeders. Speed traps are common along many local roads and highways and most motorists are unaware of them until it’s too late. But what happens if you want to warn other drivers of the potential speed trap they are approaching? Drivers often communicate with each other by flashing their lights. One reason to flash the lights is to let other drivers know of a police officer nearby. In Florida, many drivers have received traffic tickets – not for speeding but for flashing their lights to warn other drivers. In fact, more than 10,000 drivers have been issued tickets for flashing their lights to other drivers. This has happened in spite of a 2005 statute that states the police cannot wrongfully use the law to stop vehicles from communicating with each other.

Speed Traps

Speed traps in and of themselves may be annoying to motorists, but they aren’t illegal. Police are allowed to use radar guns or other methods to determine the speed of vehicles on the road. The term speed trap is often associated with a police officer (or team of officers) located in a position that makes them less visible to traffic so they can ascertain the speed without the driver being aware of it. Often a speed trap is set up so that one officer monitors the speed while another pulls over vehicles that have been found to be speeding. Speeding tickets in Florida are not only irritating, they can also be costly. Paying a speeding ticket will cost you not only in fines but also in points on your license. Accumulating too many points can cause your license to be suspended and will make your insurance go up.

Improper Flashing of High Beams

It is not illegal, according to state law in Florida, for a driver to use his or her high beams to flash other drivers as a form of communication. Yet many drivers have received tickets for just this offense. Apparently, tickets are sometimes given as a way to deter drivers from disclosing an upcoming speed trap. Indeed, the right of motorists to flash their headlights is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. Police have agreed to stop giving tickets to motorists for flashing their high beams as a warning to other drivers. This activity is considered to be legal and has been ruled as free speech – a form of communication between two drivers. This finding has been upheld in Florida courts and establishes the fact that a police officer can’t give a ticket solely for flashing the headlights.

Fighting Tickets

If you have received a traffic ticket for speeding, or any other infraction, you may be inclined to simply pay the ticket. You may want to consider fighting your ticket in court. Keep in mind that until you pay a ticket you aren’t guilty of the charge. If you don’t agree with the charges you can take the ticket to court. What about a past ticket that you have received for flashing your headlights? If you have previously been ticketed for flashing your headlights you will want to discuss the matter with an attorney. Drivers who have been erroneously ticketed in the past may be entitled to have money returned to them if they paid a fine and additionally may receive money in damages. Contact an experienced traffic attorney before paying any citations to determine the best way to proceed.