Under Florida law, simply being intoxicated in public is not a crime. This is in contrast to the laws in a handful of other states that do impose punishment for public intoxication. Florida law states:
“No person in the state shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property, and no person in the state shall be intoxicated or drink any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance.”
This is known as the crime of “disorderly intoxication.”
Understanding Disorderly Intoxication
While simply being drunk in public won’t get you thrown in jail, it is important to understand that there are two separate forms of criminal disorderly intoxication. These are:
- Endangering the safety of another person or someone else’s property while intoxicated, and
- Causing a public disturbance while intoxicated or drinking in public.
Of course, what exactly it means to “endanger” someone or a piece of property, or to cause a “public disturbance,” is somewhat open to interpretation. If you have been arrested for disorderly intoxication, calling these elements into question may be your strongest defense. Other possible defenses include:
- Lack of proof that you were intoxicated
- That you were not in a public place
- You were acting in self-defense or in defense of others
- You were exercising your First Amendment rights
What it Means to be “Intoxicated” under Florida Law
Part of the prosecutor’s burden of proof in a disorderly intoxication case will be to prove that you were actually intoxicated. Intoxication requires more than just being under the influence of alcohol. Accordingly, the standard for intoxication is higher than the standard for driving under the influence (DUI).
To be intoxicated, you must be, “so affected from the drinking of an alcoholic beverage as to have lost or been deprived of the normal control of either [your] body[,] mental faculties, or both.” Basically, you need to be drunk. Similar to proving “endangerment” or a “public disturbance,” this is a highly fact-intensive issue that requires examination of all of the evidence available.
Penalties for Disorderly Intoxication
Public disturbance is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. This means that if you are found guilty, you can face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If you receive four disorderly intoxication convictions in a 12-month period, the court can also commit you to a treatment center for up to 60 days.
Fight Your Disorderly Intoxication Charges
If you have been arrested on suspicion of disorderly intoxication, we strongly recommend that you fight the charges against you. You do not want a conviction on your criminal record, and there are numerous possible defenses to disorderly intoxication. To learn more about fighting disorderly intoxication charges in Jacksonville, FL, contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. today.Read More
When facing criminal charges in Florida, you need an experienced and aggressive defense attorney on your side. But, how do you choose the best lawyer for your case? Here are some suggestions for things to look for in your criminal defense attorney.
A Long Record of Successful Criminal Defense
When you are choosing a criminal defense lawyer, you want someone who has been there before. While this may be your first time in court, that shouldn’t be the case for your lawyer. Ideally, your attorney will have defended thousands of cases involving a wide variety of different types of crimes. Not only does this level of experience provide deep insight into the defenses that are available, but it also brings familiarity with the judges and prosecutors who might be involved in your case.
Broad Legal Experience
While some lawyers have focused their entire careers exclusively on criminal defense, we believe that there is significant value in bringing broader experience to the table. At The Armstrong Law Group, P.A., we have vast experience defending clients against criminal charges, but we also have experience fighting for injury victims and even defending major corporations in high-stakes litigation. This broad experience allows us to see your case from all angles and develop comprehensive strategies for protecting your freedom.
Knowledgeable About the Law
The best criminal defense lawyers are deeply knowledgeable about the law. Defending criminal charges requires a thorough understanding of:
- The elements of each crime under Florida law
- Negotiation strategies
- The full and partial defenses available
- The procedural aspects of criminal litigation
- Clients’ Constitutional rights
- Recent case decisions
- A host of other issues that can affect the outcome of a criminal case
Willing to Fight
Of course, all the knowledge in the world will be useless if your lawyer is not willing to stand up and fight on your behalf. Prosecutors get paid to get convictions. While the prosecution has the burden of proof, you need someone on your side who isn’t afraid to use all of the tools available to make sure that you receive a fair trial.
A Passion for Justice
On that same token, you need a lawyer who is passionate about seeking justice for his clients. Some lawyers like to bill hours, some like to pontificate on complicated legal principles, and some like to win. If you are facing steep fines, probation, jail time, and the life-changing consequences of a criminal conviction, you need a defense lawyer whose first priority is making sure that justice is served.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Tim Armstrong
Attorney Tim Armstrong has more than fifteen years of legal experience and has defended more than 1,500 clients in the Florida courts. If you are facing criminal charges in the Jacksonville, FL area, Tim can help. Call (904) 356-8618 or contact Tim online today for a free case evaluation.Read More
If you are like most people who have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), one of your biggest concerns is understanding the punishment you are likely to face if convicted. In Florida, there are actually a number of factors that can affect your sentence.
These include: your age, DUI history and blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, and whether any of various “aggravating factors” apply based on the circumstances of your arrest. This article outlines the basic penalties for Florida DUIs. For additional details, you can visit the DUI section of our website.
Penalties for a First DUI Arrest
The following are the standard penalties for a typical first-time DUI arrest:
- $500 to $1,000 fine
- Six-month to one-year license suspension
- Up to six months of imprisonment
- Up to one year of probation
- Mandatory alcohol class attendance
- A minimum of 50 hours of community service (unless the court allows a “buy-out” option at $10 per hour)
- 10-day vehicle impound
These are just the criminal penalties, and do not take into account the practical implications of a DUI conviction – such as increased insurance premiums. If you were driving with a minor or your BAC was 0.15 or above, the fines can increase up to $2,000 and you may be sentenced to up to nine months in jail, along with possible additional penalties.
Penalties for a Second DUI Arrest
If this is your second DUI, the penalties will vary depending on whether your previous DUI occurred within the past five years. If it did, you are facing:
- $1,000 to $2,000 fine
- Six-month to one-year license suspension
- Up to nine months in jail, with a mandatory minimum of 10 days
- Five-year driver’s license revocation
- Mandatory alcohol class attendance
- 30-day vehicle impound
- Installation of ignition interlock devices in each of your vehicles after your license gets reinstated
The penalties are slightly less if your prior DUI conviction is more than five years old. In either case, as with a first-time DUI, these penalties will be enhanced if you were driving with a minor or had a BAC of 0.15 or above.
Penalties for a Third DUI
If this is your third DUI, the penalties are steeper still. If you received your previous DUI within the past 10 years, the possible punishment for a third DUI includes:
- Up to $5,000 fine
- Up to five years in jail, with a 30-day minimum
- A minimum 10-year license suspension
- Two-year ignition interlock device installation on all of your vehicles
- 90-day vehicle impound
- Monthly probation visits
- Mandatory substance abuse education and psychological examination
Penalties for Fourth and Subsequent DUIs
If you already have three or more DUI convictions on your record, your next DUI will be a third-degree felony. Third-degree felony charges carry a possible $5,000 fine and up to a five-year prison term.
Additional Charges for DUIs Involving Accidents
If you caused a minor accident, you will also likely be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which carries another $1,000 in fines and up to one year of imprisonment. If you caused serious injuries, you may be charged with felony DUI, which can also mean up to five years behind bars.
Speak with a Jacksonville, FL DUI Defense Attorney Today
As you can see, you need to take your DUI charges very seriously. Attorney Tim Armstrong can help you fight to avoid conviction or reduce the penalties for your DUI arrest. For more information, call (904) 356-8618 or contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. online today.Read More
When you receive a DUI conviction, you are likely to face fines, court costs, suspension of your driver’s license, probation, and maybe even jail time. You may also be required to attend alcohol school, seek treatment, and install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. While this may seem like more than enough punishment already, there is yet another consequence to getting caught drinking and driving: the impact your conviction will have on your auto insurance policy.
Skyrocketing Insurance Rates
If you have a DUI conviction on your record, your insurance rates are going to go up. That is a fact. The insurance companies even acknowledge that they are going to significantly increase your rates if you receive a DUI conviction. One insurance company’s website states, “DUIs = high-risk driving, high-risk driving = higher premiums.” Another’s simply states , we “will insure you regardless of whether or not you have a DUI, though we do charge you appropriately.”
The amount of your increase will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Your insurance company
- Your driving history
- The severity of your DUI (e.g., how drunk you were, and whether you were speeding or caused an accident)
- Whether you have other DUIs on your record already
If you have multiple DUI convictions, some companies won’t insure you. In fact, Florida law specifically allows insurance companies to cancel coverage if your license has been suspended. If your record is to the point where some companies won’t even cover you, you can expect your insurance rates to increase exponentially with those that will.
Most insurers will keep your DUI on your policy for five years.
Increased Coverage Requirements
In order to get your license reinstated following a DUI conviction, you will be required to obtain auto insurance with enhanced policy limits. Maintaining these higher policy limits will increase your monthly premiums as well. The insurance policy requirements for drivers convicted of DUI in Florida are:
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death to a single person
- $300,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people
- $50,000 for property damage for a single crash
You will be required to keep this increased insurance for a minimum of three years. There is no way around this. To reinstate your license, the DHSMV will require you to submit a Form FR-44 with evidence of your new insurance policy – and this form must be signed by your insurer. If you cancel your insurance, your insurance company will notify the DHSMV.
Contact Us Today
These increased insurance costs alone are reason enough to fight your DUI arrest. At The Armstrong Law Group, P.A., we fight vigorously on behalf of our clients to help them avoid DUI convictions. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (904) 356-8618 or contact us online today.Read More
Each May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and countless private safety organizations and motorcycle clubs observe Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. While riders here in Florida get to use their bikes year-round, May is when other parts of the country start to thaw and riders start to get back out on the roads.
The Importance of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a great opportunity for riders and drivers alike to remind themselves of the risks of careless and aggressive driving. While the influx of riders in northern states serves as a natural reminder, we don’t get that here in Florida. If you’re wondering why this is an important issue, the answer is simple: Motorcycle accidents are on the rise.
According to NHTSA, the latest data available show that the number of fatal motorcycle accidents increased by seven percent from 2011 to 2012. That amounts to more than 300 additional deaths from the year before. Overall, motorcycle accidents are up by a whopping 15 percent – with 93,000 total injuries in 2012. When compared to car drivers, motorcycle riders are roughly six times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.
Safe Riding Practices
As a motorcycle rider, there are several things you can do both to avoid accidents and to mitigate your injuries when you lay it down. This year, NHTSA is emphasizing two issues in particular for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month:
- Wear a DOT-rated helmet. While riders over 21 with $10,000 in medical benefits insurance are not required to wear helmets under Florida law, wearing a helmet is still highly recommended. Studies show that helmet use has hovered around 60 percent for the last decade. However, there is no disputing that helmets save lives in dangerous situations. If you are getting in the saddle, remember the riders’ mantra: All the Gear, All the Time.
- Don’t drink and ride. It is no secret that alcohol use results in significant impairments when you hop on your bike or get behind the wheel. But, did you know that even being below the legal limit can still put you at a significantly-increased risk of either causing or being unable to avoid an accident? If you have been drinking, play it safe and call a cab or ask a friend to take you home.
Drivers: Share the Road
This May, NHTSA is reminding drivers to share the road with motorcyclists as well. Since we have motorcycles on our roads every day of the year here in Florida, it is easy for drivers to get complacent about motorcycle safety. The next time you go driving, make it a point to actively watch for motorcycles, and be sure to respect their right to share the road.
The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. provides aggressive and experienced representation for individuals who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. To learn more about our services, please contact us today.Read More
What Happens if You Miss a Hearing in Your Criminal Case?
If you have been arrested for a crime and have been released either on bail or on your own recognizance, you will need to appear in court for the hearings scheduled in your case. In a typical trial, there will be several hearings at which your presence will be required. It is critically important that you show up for each of these hearings. Failure to do so can have serious consequences.
Typical Hearings in Florida Criminal Trials
In most cases, once bail has been set, there will be three primary court dates at which you will be required to appear. The judge will set the court dates, and you will need to make arrangements to be in court at the scheduled times. The three main court dates are:
- Pretrial hearing
At the arraignment, the judge will read the charge against you, and you will have the opportunity to enter your plea. Your options are “guilty,” “not guilty,” and “no contest.” Your attorney can help you decide how to plea with respect to each of the charges in your case. The arraignment is usually scheduled several weeks after the initial arrest.
Next, after the arraignment, is the pretrial hearing. This is your attorney’s formal opportunity to attempt to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor.
If a deal isn’t on the table, then your case will go to trial. Depending on the number and severity of the charges, a criminal trial can take anywhere from hours to several weeks. You will need to be present throughout in order to stand trial and provide testimony (if advised by your attorney).
If You Miss a Hearing in Your Case
If you miss a court date, the judge will likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Your lawyer will have the opportunity to argue for the hearing to be rescheduled, but unless there is a very compelling reason, the judge is not likely to let you off of the hook. Criminal judges are extremely busy and their time is valuable – so they generally do not appreciate having to reschedule due to a failure to appear.
You should speak with your attorney right away if you miss a hearing. The bench warrant means that you can be taken into custody, and a failure to appear may also result in a forfeit of your bond. If you are arrested for failure to appear, you can also be held without bail pending trial.
The consequences of ignoring a failure to appear can also extend beyond the confines of your criminal case. A failure to appear can show up on background checks, and may result in a suspension of your driver’s license. As a result, you need to take a failure to appear very seriously and consult with your attorney as soon as you learn that you missed your hearing.
Contact Attorney Tim Armstrong to Learn More
Tim Armstrong is a Florida criminal defense attorney who represents clients facing charges for DUI and othe r serious offenses. If you missed a court date, contact us today to speak with Tim for free.Read More
As a North Florida DUI attorney, I get asked this question all of the time. The short answer is: No, you cannot trick a Breathalyzer. There are several myths out there, but no method has been proven to prevent a Breathalyzer from reading your true blood alcohol content (BAC).
MYTH 1: Blow Lightly
Many people think that blowing lightly will defeat the Breathalyzer. The reasoning seems to be that if you only blow the air that is in your mouth – and not in your lungs – then the test won’t pick up on the alcohol in your system.
The problem with that theory is that if you don’t blow deeply, the test doesn’t work. The Breathalyzer only registers deep lung breaths, and the arresting officer will have you keep blowing until you’ve taken the test properly.
MYTH 2: Rinse with Mouthwash
If you use mouthwash right before you blow, then this will confuse the test and give you justification for blowing a high BAC, right? Not exactly. Compared to the alcohol content of mouthwash, it takes a fair amount of alcohol consumption to register above the legal limit. This is not to say that it’s hard to register a 0.08 if you’ve been drinking, but rather that it nearly impossible to register a 0.08 from a swig of mouthwash.
MYTH 3: Drink Caffeine to Absorb the Alcohol or Get it Out of Your System
Some people also think that drinking soda, coffee, or energy drinks after a night of imbibing will restore their BAC back to normal. This doesn’t work either. Drinking caffeinated beverages does not affect the concentration of alcohol in your system. In addition, studies have also shown that mixing alcohol with caffeine increases the risks associated with overconsumption. As a result, this is not only a fruitless exercise, but should actually be actively avoided.
What if I Blow Above the Legal Limit?
The fact that you can’t trick the Breathalyzer doesn’t mean that taking the test is the end of your case. There are numerous legitimate ways to fight the results of a Breathalyzer. Some examples include:
- Showing that you were arrested without probable cause and that the test results are the fruit of an illegal arrest.
- Challenging the reliability of the particular type or brand of Breathalyzer.
- Arguing that the Breathalyzer was not properly calibrated.
- Demonstrating that the test was administered improperly.
- Showing up in court – if the officer who administered the test does not show up to testify, your constitutional rights may protect you from being convicted.
These are just a small sampling of the defenses that can be used to overcome a DUI arrest. If you have been arrested for DUI, you should speak with your attorney about the options available in your case.
Experienced Representation for DUI Defense
If you have been charged with DUI, attorney Tim Armstrong can help. Call 904-356-8618 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.Read More
If you’re like most people, seeing flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror gives you a sinking feeling and sweaty palms. No one wants to get in trouble with the police, and the thought of having a ticket on your record can be extremely stressful. How much money will I have to pay? How will this affect my license? Will having a ticket keep me from getting a job?
These are the types of questions that run through most people’s minds after they get pulled over. Nevertheless, whether this is your first ticket or you’ve had several already, the single most important thing to keep in mind is this: Don’t panic. Lots of people get speeding tickets, and there are lots of ways to either avoid or minimize the consequences of a traffic arrest.
What to do if You get Pulled Over
Once you get pulled over, stay calm, and wait for the police officer to approach your vehicle. You will need to provide your license, insurance, and registration, but do not reach for these until the officer asks for them. The officer doesn’t know anything about you, and if they see you searching around they might think that you are looking for a weapon or trying to hide something. Just wait, be respectful, and respond directly to the officer’s questions and requests.
You are entitled to ask questions, but do so politely. If you do not understand something the officer says, it is acceptable to seek clarification. For example, if you were pulled over for speeding, you may want to ask how your speed was calculated. Your attorney can research this later, but finding out up front can make the process quicker.
Once you receive the ticket, you should review it carefully. If you dispute any of the information the police officer recorded, you should seek legal help right away. If you decide to fight your ticket in court, it will be your word against the police officer’s, so you want to do everything possible to give yourself the best chance to win.
Is it Worth it to Fight a Traffic Ticket?
Depending on the circumstances, it may be well worth your while to fight a traffic ticket. If the alleged offense is severe or you already have points on your record, you may need to fight in order to avoid losing your license. For DUIs, it almost always makes sense to hire an attorney – even if you think you are guilty of the offense.
Contact Attorney Tim Armstrong about Your Traffic Arrest
Jacksonville, FL attorney Tim Armstrong has over 15 years of experience defending clients for speeding tickets, DUIs, and other traffic-related offenses. If you received a traffic citation and have questions about what to do next, Tim can help. Call 904-356-8618 or submit our online form to request a free consultation.Read More
Beginning in the summer of 2015, counties throughout Florida will be providing access to their court documents online. Once the documents are published, members of the public will be able to review records of most criminal and civil cases anonymously, without the need to make a trip to the courthouse.
Some counties – like Duval County, where The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. is located – have already put their systems online. The rest have up to four months to finish the transition from providing paper-only access at the clerk’s office to providing worldwide access on the Internet. However, some of the larger counties have already stated that their records likely will not be available until the fall, and Hamilton, Levy, Monroe, Seminole, Suwannee, and Taylor counties have indicated that they may not participate in the online migration at this time.
Who Has Access to My Case?
This news is no doubt troubling to individuals with criminal records or who have been involved in civil lawsuits that they would prefer not be publicized to their friends, family members, coworkers, and potential employers. While these records have always been available at the clerk’s office, the need to make a trip to the courthouse has generally served as a deterrent to those without a strict need to know your courtroom history. News reports indicate that a handful of counties intend to charge a subscription fee, but the majority of criminal and civil court records in Florida will soon be available online free of charge.
Sealed and expunged records will not be available; but, otherwise, you can expect your records to be published online. The legislature has established guidelines around who has access to what:
- Criminal and civil court records: All anonymous members of the public.
- Family law and probate records: Members of the public who submit an application and sign an agreement to not share their login information.
- All records, with limited exceptions for protected information (such as juvenile delinquency records): Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and employees of the Department of Children and Families who submit an application and sign an agreement.
Judges and attorneys will have access to online records as well.
Getting Your Criminal Case Sealed or Expunged
If you are concerned about your court case being published on the Internet, you may be able to get your record sealed or expunged. The ability to have your criminal record sealed or expunged will depend upon the outcome of your case, and both require compliance with a strict set of rules and procedures. If you would like to remove your records from the online database, you should speak with a lawyer experienced in Florida criminal law right away.
Tim Armstrong Can Help Protect Your Record
Attorney Tim Armstrong has represented clients in more than 1,500 cases in Jacksonville and throughout Northeast Florida. If you have questions about your case or are interested in having your records sealed or expunged, contact us today at 904.356.8618.Read More
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Each year since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has used this month as a time to raise awareness about the risks and treatment options available for alcoholism and excessive use of alcohol. At The Armstrong Law Group, P.A., we are proud to help promote this extremely important cause.
This Year’s Theme
NCADD picks one particular area of focus each year to develop its theme for Alcohol Awareness Month. This year’s theme is, “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.” As the name suggests, NCADD has chosen to focus on raising awareness of the risks of underage drinking in 2015. As discussed on the organization’s website, “[a]dolescence is a time of heightened risk taking,” and alcohol kills more teens than all illegal drugs combined. Using alcohol puts teenagers at heightened risk for:
- Car accidents
- Sexual assaults
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 5,000 underage drinkers die each year as a direct result of alcohol-related incidents. Another 190,000 visit the emergency room for alcohol-related injuries. By educating teens on the dangers of alcohol consumption, we can all make a difference in helping to reduce these numbers.
Get Involved in Alcohol Awareness Month
NCADD’s website provides a wealth of information for individuals and families seeking to get involved in Alcohol Awareness Month. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has published a detailed toolkit and extensive list of resources for promoting awareness of alcohol-related issues. Some of their recommendations include:
- Encouraging friends and family members to be vigilant about monitoring their teens for alcohol use and limiting their own consumption of alcohol.
- Hosting or participating in a community event to raise awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption, or focusing on specific issues such as drinking and driving.
- Spreading the word about Alcohol Awareness Month on social media (DHHS’s toolkit has sample tweets, ecards, web badges, and resources to share online).
- Asking your doctor to talk to your children about the risks of underage alcohol use
For parents, educators, and community members who regularly interact with teens, the NIAAA also recommends watching for these warning signs:
- Changes in behavior or academic performance
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Hanging out with a different group of friends
- Depression and fatigue
- Finding alcohol among their personal belongings
These are all known to be indicators of potential alcohol abuse.
Contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A.
Attorney Tim Armstrong represents individuals who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and other alcohol-related crimes. He also represents victims of alcohol-related accidents. To learn more about the risks of drinking and driving or consuming too much alcohol, call 904-356-8618 or contact The Armstrong Law Group, P.A. online today.Read More