Friday, August 22, 2014

Changes to Florida Criminal Traffic Laws

In 2012, there were nearly 70,000 hit and run crashes in the State of Florida which resulted in 17,000 injuries and 166 fatalities.  This number of fatalities equates to nearly 3 Floridians killed each week in hit-and-run crashes.

On February 15, 2012, Michele Traverso was on his way home from an evening of drinking when he ran over two cyclists and fled the scene.  One of those cyclists, Aaron Cohen was killed and the defendant received a sentence of twenty-two months of incarceration.

In response, the Florida Legislature began to make proposals to Florida Statute §316.027 that were contained in Senate Bill 102.  This Bill became law effective July 1, 2014.  Some of the changes to Florida Statute §316.027 include the following:

·        Leaving the Scene of an Accident resulting in bodily injury is now a 2nd degree felony rather than a 3rd degree felony;

·        A minimum mandatory penalty of 4-years shall be imposed for a conviction resulting in the death of a person;

·        Increases the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment from 2-years to 4-years for a conviction while driving under the influence (DUI);

·        Imposes a minimum 3-year license revocation;

·        If there is a finding that the victim was a “vulnerable road user”, the offense may be ranked one-level higher than specified in the Criminal Punishment Code;

·        Allows a defendant to make a motion requesting the court to depart from the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment unless the violation was committed while the defendant was DUI;

·        Authorizes the State to object to the defendant’s motion and authorizes the court to grant the defendant’s motion if there is a finding that the mandatory minimum sentence would constitute or result in an injustice.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Changes to Orlando DUI Laws ǀ Drunk Driving Laws

For those who were charged with the offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) prior to July 1, 2014, Florida Courts would impose the condition of the ignition interlock device only individuals who were either charged with a subsequent DUI (see Florida Statute §316.193(2)(a)(3)) or with a DUI where there was a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level that measured in excess of 0.150 or had a minor in the car (see Florida Statute §316.193(4)).

Following the 2014 Legislative Session, Florida Statute §316.193 has been amended by adding §316.193(2)(c).  In addition to the penalties already listed in §316.193(2), Florida Courts may now impose the following:

the court may order placement, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device approved by the department in accordance with s. 316.1938 for at least 6 continuous months upon all vehicles that are individually or jointly leased or owned and routinely operated by the convicted person if, at the time of the offense, the person had a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of .08 or higher.

In addition, the amendments made to Florida Statute §316.193 authorize a Court to dismiss an order of impoundment or immobilization, as a result of DUI, if the defendant provides proof to the Court that a certified ignition interlock device has been installed on all vehicles individually or jointly leased or owned, and routinely operated by the convicted person. (see Florida Statute §316.193(6)(i)).

Finally, Florida Statute §316.193(6)(j)(1) authorizes a Court to order a person to participate in a “qualified sobriety and drug monitoring program,” authorized by the Department, in addition to the ignition interlock device requirement.  Participation in this program will be at the person’s sole expense.  However, it should be noted that at the current time, there are no Department approved “qualified sobriety and drug monitoring programs.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Orlando Theft Suspensions

Florida Statute 812.0155 permits courts to suspend the driving privileges of an individual convicted of a misdemeanor theft related offense in violation of s. 812.014 or s. 812.015.  As is customary due to "Separation of Powers", a court could not order the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to issue the offender a hardship license. 

Now, following the 2014 Legislative Session, Florida Statute 812.0155(5) authorizes a court that suspends the driver license of an individual for an offense relating to theft, to DIRECT the DHSMV to issue the person a license for business purposes only, if the person is otherwise qualified.

Changes to Florida Drug Laws

It has long stood in the State of Florida that anyone over the age of 18-years who was charged with and convicted on a violation of Chapter 893, Florida Statutes, was subject to having their driving privileges suspended for a period of two-years. That meant that anyone who was convicted of possession or sale of, trafficking in, or conspiracy to possess, sell, or traffic in a controlled substance was subject to the two-year suspension.  

However, now following the 2014 Legislative Session, we have seen a change that can be found in the wording of Florida Statute §322.055 that details the license revocation period for persons over the age of 18 who have been convicted of alcohol, drug and tobacco offenses.

Now, if you are over the age of 18 and are convicted of a violation of Chapter 893, Florida Statutes, you are now subject to a license suspension of one-year.