Broward DUI on NYE

Broward DUI Attorney Grant Schwarz

Nothing ruins an evening, especially New Years Eve more than being arrested on charges of DUI.

Getting arrested for DUI is definitely something everyone wants to avoid in their lifetime. Florida has some of the strictest penalties for DUI’s around. As we know there is a multi-stage process that begins when you are arrested. The first is the arrest process, second is the administrative suspension process, and the third is the defense of your criminal charge in court.

But with this being the end of the 2015 holiday season and with New Years Eve upon us, we are still in a very highly traveled time of year and police are on highest alert for impaired drivers. During this time of year excessive alcohol consumption is very common and very often this leads to arrests for a multitude of charges, not just DUI. In fact, many first time offenders get caught during the holiday season due to the over vigilant police forces.

 

The odds of getting into a car accident are even higher during this time of year simply because there are more cars on the road visiting family and friends for the holiday season. But when the roads are full of people who have maybe had one too many, the odds of a crash are even higher. During the holidays, the number of travelers on our nation’s roads spikes. Unfortunately, increased alcohol consumption and increased cars on the road directly produce more fatalities resulting from car crashes alcohol-impaired drivers. This result is so predictable that police departments are likely to make more pre-textual stops without any real reasonable suspicion more often during this time of year than any other.

 

So what do you do to avoid becoming a Florida DUI statistic during the holiday season this year?

Avoid Drinking then Driving

Obviously the best way to avoid a DUI is to avoid drinking alcohol or consuming controlled substances whenever you think you may be driving soon thereafter. If there is nothing in your system, the police will have no evidence. Keep in mind that all a police officer needs to ask you to provide a breath sample is an odor of alcohol and other very vague signs of impairment. While you may be able to beat a DUI charge, you can rarely beat the ride through the court system.

If You Drink, Watch Your Intake

The legal alcohol limit in Florida is 0.08. This means that if your breath or blood alcohol content is above that number, you will be arrested and charged. Make sure you never drink on an empty stomach and keep close track on how many drinks you’ve had over whatever period of time you’ve been drinking. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different and alcohol can affect your normal faculties more or less so than others. Know your limits. DUI doesn’t mean Drunk, it means Impaired.

Drive Extra Safely

This should go without saying anyway. While operating a vehicle on the road, you should always be driving safely and observing all traffic laws. Take extra care to stay within speed limits and obey all traffic control devices such as lights and stop signs. Stay off of your cell phone and do not text while driving. Driving while distracted will likely result in you being pulled over.

Don’t Try to Sleep it Off

DUI laws in Florida require the government prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle. Courts have found that if you are sleeping in the vehicle and you are in possession of the keys, you can still be charged with DUI. Crazy right?

Be Nice

Nobody likes to be stopped by police, but if you do happen to get stopped by a police officer while driving, go out of your way to be as kind and cooperative as possible. Police officers on New Years Eve are expecting the worst, so surprise them by not giving them a hard time or asking too many questions or being overly talkative. The officer wants the encounter to be over too. Don’t give him/her a reason to remember you. Take your ticket (if one is given) and drive away, call a lawyer and deal with it later.

To learn more about the DUI process please click here to read our site’s DUI information section.

If you know someone who has been arrested the best thing to do if is to contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney to look into this issue for you.

 

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Disorderly Conduct Arrests in Fort Lauderdale

Disorderly Conduct is one of those misdemeanor charges I see very frequently. However, it is very rare that I have had a client take a plea to or be found guilty of such a crime. The reason is that this particular statute is written in such a vague manner that it is very difficult for the state attorneys office to obtain a conviction.

In order to be convicted of Disorderly Conduct the officer must witness a person behaving in such a manner so as to corrupt the public morals, outrage the sense of public decency or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them or be in the midst of a brawl or physical fight with another person in public. I have not encountered the “brawling part” of the statute as often as I have seen police officers make arrests for other reasons. The more common situation that I have encountered when defending a Disorderly Conduct charge is when a person has been arrested by law enforcement simply because the police officers making the arrest do not fully understand the law and use Disorderly Conduct as a “catch all” statue to make an arrest when no other crime seems to fit.

The problem with this behavior by police is that people will be arrested for completely lawful behavior. I recently had a client arrested for Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest Without Violence in Fort Lauderdale after asking a police officer a few questions while the officer was “tending” to an injured person on the street. In a situation like that, I would have recommended that my client steer clear of the police officers entirely and leave the police alone to their business. However, I was not there at the time of the arrest to give such advice. Whenever an officer or officers appear to be in the middle of an investigation, arresting someone or are even sitting around doing nothing, the best thing you can do is LEAVE THEM ALONE. Most likely, nothing good will come to you by approaching a police officer, unless you are in need of protection or have just been a victim of crime. Even then, it is good practice to be wary of what information you provide police officers.

Sure, the law permits you to ask a police officer where they are taking someone who is being arrested, or even to ask why the person is being arrested. However, most times when people approach a busy officer, that person will end up getting arrested for “obstruction”.

Cases involving Disorderly Conduct or Breaches of the Peace sometimes involve some type of physical component like fighting.   Other times, arrests for Disorderly Conduct or Breach of the Peace involve only verbal incidents. What does this mean? For example: What would happen if you started chanting “[email protected]#k the Police!” when you see a group of officers standing around? First, the officer will likely order you to stop and leave the area. But what if you refuse? You will likely be arrested. But it does not end there. Consider the case of State v. Saunders 339 So.2d 641 in a Florida Supreme Court decision, the court dealt with the issue of speech as the basis for a Disorderly Conduct charge. The court decided that no words besides “fighting words” would be used as the basis for a Disorderly Conduct charge:

“In light of these circumstances, we now limit the application of Section 877.03 so that it will hereafter only apply either to words which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace or to words known to be false, reporting some physical harm in circumstances where such a report creates a clear and present danger of bodily harm to others. We construe the statue so that no words except fighting words or words like shouting of ‘fire’ in a crowded theater fall within this proscription, in order to avoid the constitutional problem of over breadth and the danger that a citizen will be punished as a criminal for exercising his right of free speech.”

Back to the example: If you shout F the police, the Court would have to consider what else you did along with the shouting. Disorderly conduct charges will likely be dismissed or found not guilty wherever the defendant creates an annoyance, uses profanity, causes a crowd to gather, or displays a general bad attitude. Verbal conduct alone is rarely found to be the only basis for a conviction of Disorderly Conduct. If it’s just you on the street and nobody seems to care what you’re doing and its only the police that get annoyed by you shouting “F You” to them, then there’s very little likelihood that you’ll get charged and convicted of Disorderly Conduct.

If you know someone who has been arrested and you want to know what has happened to them, or what may happen next, there are many places you can check for information. One good place to check would be at the police station in a calm manner to speak with either the arresting officer, or their supervisor to find out what the arrest was for and what the next steps are in the process. The best thing to do if someone you know has been arrested is to contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney to look into this issue for you.

isorderly Conduct is one of those misdemeanor charges I see very frequently. However, it is very rare that I have had a client take a plea to or be found guilty of such a crime. The reason is that this particular statute is written in such a vague manner that it is very difficult for the state attorneys office to obtain a conviction.

In order to be convicted of Disorderly Conduct the officer must witness a person behaving in such a manner so as to corrupt the public morals, outrage the sense of public decency or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them or be in the midst of a brawl or physical fight with another person in public. I have not encountered the “brawling part” of the statute as often as I have seen police officers make arrests for other reasons. The more common situation that I have encountered when defending a Disorderly Conduct charge is when a person has been arrested by law enforcement simply because the police officers making the arrest do not fully understand the law and use Disorderly Conduct as a “catch all” statue to make an arrest when no other crime seems to fit.

The problem with this behavior by police is that people will be arrested for completely lawful behavior. I recently had a client arrested for Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest Without Violence in Fort Lauderdale after asking a police officer a few questions while the officer was “tending” to an injured person on the street. In a situation like that, I would have recommended that my client steer clear of the police officers entirely and leave the police alone to their business. However, I was not there at the time of the arrest to give such advice. Whenever an officer or officers appear to be in the middle of an investigation, arresting someone or are even sitting around doing nothing, the best thing you can do is LEAVE THEM ALONE. Most likely, nothing good will come to you by approaching a police officer, unless you are in need of protection or have just been a victim of crime. Even then, it is good practice to be wary of what information you provide police officers.

Sure, the law permits you to ask a police officer where they are taking someone who is being arrested, or even to ask why the person is being arrested. However, most times when people approach a busy officer, that person will end up getting arrested for “obstruction”.

Cases involving Disorderly Conduct or Breaches of the Peace sometimes involve some type of physical component like fighting.   Other times, arrests for Disorderly Conduct or Breach of the Peace involve only verbal incidents. What does this mean? For example: What would happen if you started chanting “[email protected]#k the Police!” when you see a group of officers standing around? First, the officer will likely order you to stop and leave the area. But what if you refuse? You will likely be arrested. But it does not end there. Consider the case of State v. Saunders 339 So.2d 641 in a Florida Supreme Court decision, the court dealt with the issue of speech as the basis for a Disorderly Conduct charge. The court decided that no words besides “fighting words” would be used as the basis for a Disorderly Conduct charge:

“In light of these circumstances, we now limit the application of Section 877.03 so that it will hereafter only apply either to words which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace or to words known to be false, reporting some physical harm in circumstances where such a report creates a clear and present danger of bodily harm to others. We construe the statue so that no words except fighting words or words like shouting of ‘fire’ in a crowded theater fall within this proscription, in order to avoid the constitutional problem of over breadth and the danger that a citizen will be punished as a criminal for exercising his right of free speech.”

Back to the example: If you shout F the police, the Court would have to consider what else you did along with the shouting. Disorderly conduct charges will likely be dismissed or found not guilty wherever the defendant creates an annoyance, uses profanity, causes a crowd to gather, or displays a general bad attitude. Verbal conduct alone is rarely found to be the only basis for a conviction of Disorderly Conduct. If it’s just you on the street and nobody seems to care what you’re doing and its only the police that get annoyed by you shouting “F You” to them, then there’s very little likelihood that you’ll get charged and convicted of Disorderly Conduct.

If you know someone who has been arrested and you want to know what has happened to them, or what may happen next, there are many places you can check for information. One good place to check would be at the police station in a calm manner to speak with either the arresting officer, or their supervisor to find out what the arrest was for and what the next steps are in the process. The best thing to do if someone you know has been arrested is to contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney to look into this issue for you.

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DUI Checkpoints on Thanksgiving

Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney Grant Schwarz Explains how checkpoints can stop your holiday fun in its tracks.

Concerts, festivals and holidays, especially holidays which involve a fair amount of drinking; like Thanksgiving and Christmas are among the most popular times the local police decide to set up DUI checkpoint stops throughout the South Florida Area. In my career I have handled dozens of cases involving DUI checkpoints. These arrests are very common in South Florida and it is important for you to know how to properly handle yourself if you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Broward County.

For those who don’t know what a DUI checkpoint is; a DUI checkpoint is also sometimes referred to as a Sobriety Point. There are three distinct phases in the DUI Checkpoint. The first is the “Funnel”. The funnel is a term used to describe the way officer’s use using traffic cones and other traffic control devices to narrow lanes of traffic down to one lane. Once a vehicle enters the funnel, cars are counted by the police officers monitoring the checkpoint.   There will be a pre-determined method set up in the Operation Plan to select which vehicles will be stopped and interviewed by police. Depending on the flow of traffic, officers will select every other car to interview the driver if traffic is slow, or at bigger intervals if traffic has backed up.   Once a vehicle has been selected, the officer will speak with the driver and ask some basic questions about where they are coming from or going, also will ask if the driver has consumed any alcohol that evening.

This is when the officer will make a determination whether the driver is potentially impaired by alcohol. This is the precise time that you need to take control of the situation and handle yourself properly. You should never try to drive away when the officer is trying to speak with you. Driving away could result in additional charges like Resisting an Officer or Fleeing/Eluding. Understand that DUI Checkpoints are a perfectly legal way for police officers to stop your car as long as they have followed the proper procedures in setting the checkpoint up. Understand that there is very little you can do while on scene with police officers to prevent being arrested, so do not make matters worse by trying to run away.

“Even a fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut”. This is something that I tell all of my clients. Do not answer questions the officer has not asked you, and do not volunteer information that has not been requested. Do not open your mouth needlessly because everything you say is potentially being recorded and will absolutely be used against you in court. The less you say, the better. Be polite and speak with a normal even tone and do not argue with the officer. You will not be able to talk your way out of an arrest. Arguing with an officer will almost always result in additional charges, or at the very least being labeled as “Belligerent” in the arrest report. Judges, prosecutors and juries do not look kindly upon the Belligerent arrestee.

If you or someone you know has been caught up in a DUI Checkpoint over the holiday weekend, please call the DUI Defense Attorneys at Attorney Grant Schwarz .  Florida licensed attorneys are available 24 hours a day (Yes, even Thanksgiving or Black Friday) to answer questions regarding DUI or any other type of traffic, misdemeanor or felony charge.  Call 1-800-403-3887  for a free case evaluation.  Remember, even fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut. 

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Diversion Programs in Florida Criminal Cases

Broward Misdemeanor and Felony Diversion Program Attorney.  

Never accept a “deal” without hiring a lawyer first.

When I was a prosecutor, I used to think that I was doing defendants the biggest favor in the world when I would offer a misdemeanor diversion program, often called MDP or PTI (Pre Trial Intervention) in some jurisdictions. I used to say “This is an amazing deal. What a gift I am giving you” and I honestly believed it at the time. Now that I have been practicing Criminal Defense work for years I realize that MDP/PTI is not always as cracked up as people make it. This is especially true when a criminal defendant goes to court and accepts the program without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney. Oftentimes defendants are railroaded into accepting a program offer even when it’s against their interest.

Many times the railroading begins at the scene of the arrest. I can tell you that dozens if not hundreds of my clients tell me that they are already told about the diversion programs and other court programs the moment the officer gives them the ticket or places them under arrest. It’s like the police officer planting a seed in the and convincing the very person they are arresting that they are somehow doing a favor. Really, the information being provided to the arrestee is to keep them calm and confused while being railroaded.

The next step is the court appearance which occurs some weeks after the contact with police. At this point, the defendants have in their head that the program is good and that they will get their case dismissed, no harm no foul. “The police told me that I can do a program to get my case dismissed. I want to do that, it’s the best thing for me.”. Not usually.

What the defendants are not being told is that the court programs have strict rules and can cost hundreds of dollars. That diversion program usually begins with an application to the state attorneys office and then there is an approval process. During this process the defendant could be required to appear in court a few times, missing work or school. Then if the person is permitted to enter the program, they are hit with hundreds of dollars in fees and costs which nobody took the time to explain to them. Many times, after finally being explained the entire process, defendants realize that it might be too expensive or time consuming for them.

 

Most people who are arrested are ordinary working people with families and tremendous financial pressures. Entering into a diversion program may seem like a good idea but it doesn’t always work out for the best. At the point when that decision is made, there is often a lot of time wasted and some rights waived. The rights to discovery and the right to a speedy trial come to mind immediately.

Through the years, I have received calls from people charged with crimes in misdemeanor and felony court who after an entire application process are then rejected from the program. These rejections come because of any number of reasons. The reasons are most commonly prior arrest or convictions for other offenses or because of “victim disapproval”.

Before even attempting to enter a diversion program in felony or misdemeanor court, you really need to contact an attorney to determine whether the program is your best option. We don’t want you to lose out on a potential defense because the state attorney is dangling a “generous” offer in front of your face. There have been many situations in my career where I have made and have been made an offer of diversion when the case is weak and would likely result in a not guilty verdict at trial.

DIVERSION PROGRAMS ARE NOT ALWAYS FOR EVERYONE

The Diversion Programs offered by the State Attorneys Offices throughout Florida are not always for everyone. Sure it sounds great, pay some money and maybe do some community service hours and the case will be dismissed. Great Right? What if you are totally innocent of the charge? What if the police broke the law when searching you? What if the police pulled you over illegally? What if the evidence against you just isn’t strong enough for a conviction? Should you be forced or coerced into accepting the “gift” of a diversion program? Another thing that police and prosecutors don’t always tell you is that in order to enter the program, you almost always have to write a statement confessing to the crime you are charged with. Still think diversion is a gift?

Of course there are consequences for anyone facing any criminal charge. However, if you are a licensed professional like a doctor, lawyer, public accountant, nurse or other professional licensed by the state of Florida, you could face serious consequences as a result of your case. These consequences could still affect your license after entering and completing a diversion program because some employers or licensing entities consider it an admission of guilt. Sometimes these programs require that you give consent to contact your place of employment to confirm you are currently working. These and other issues are very important considerations before you decide to enter a diversion program without first retaining an attorney to ensure that it’s the best possible outcome for you.

The Office of Attorney Grant Schwarz has been representing criminal defense clients since 1979. Lead Attorney Grant Schwarz is rated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by National Trial Lawyers, and ready to represent you and start fighting to defend your rights today. Contact the office of Attorney Grant Schwarz if you or someone you know has been charged with an offense and is considering a diversion program as a potential resolution for the case.

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Prostitution Cases in Florida

Throughout South Florida and even the rest of the state, police departments are coming down hard on cases involving the solicitation of prostitution as well as other acts listed under the prostitution statute. Prostitution is defined as selling ones body for money in the form of sexual acts. While this type of transaction (money for sex) has been around for thousands of years, and is even legal in some jurisdictions, it is still illegal in Florida and can be punished quite harshly.

The most common way police departments go about targeting individuals participating in this type of illegal behavior is through elaborate (or sometimes very simple) sting operations.

In my experience as an attorney, most of these stings happen in the same areas over and over again. The police are really not that creative when it comes to these scenarios. For example, I have been practicing criminal law since 2007 and I have personally seen over 100 prostitution cases in the city of Hallandale Beach. The police department will take a plainclothes female officer and plant her right on the corner of Pembroke road and Federal Highway. The story basically writes itself and every single police report written that night will read exactly the same. “Officer so and so was acting in an undercover capacity. Defendant approached and requested the officer perform a sexual act in exchange for money.” That’s it!

The officers will rarely write anything more than that. And they don’t have to in order to open a case. Most times the police will write Notice to Appear forms and give the poor defendant a court date some time in the future. Usually at this point the defendant calls my office and I explain how police have been running that game for years only now they have an even bigger incentive to trap unsuspecting people. The state of Florida has instituted a statutory fine of $5,000.00 for any defendant accused of soliciting a prostitute. That is $5,000.00 that the defendant must pay the state if he/she is convicted of soliciting prostitution.

Fortunately, there are usually defenses to this crime and there are usually issues with the way police collect evidence. There are often no photographs, video or audio recordings of the alleged “solicitation”. Additionally, the police officer will likely open 30 or more cases in a single night, and they will run that sting several times a year. This results in hundreds of arrests using the same officer. With no video or other evidence and a very vague police report, it is difficult for the police officer to say with much credibility that they remember the exact conversation they had with the defendant. The police officers usually count on the defendant taking a plea or participating in a Misdemeanor Diversion Program of some sort.

If this is your first time being arrested or cited with solicitation of prostitution, then you are in luck. Most counties offer diversion programs which only require attending a course about the dangers of participating in the type of behavior that got you arrested in the first place. The programs also require that you submit to an STD test. The results are kept confidential to you; you would only need to show proof that you took the test. Once those requirements are complete, the case could potentially be dismissed and your record later expunged. Many counties allow you to do this and avoid the mandatory $5,000.00 fine. Sounds good right? I said many, not all. Broward County Prostitution cases require the payment of this heavy fine even if the defendant is participating in the misdemeanor diversion program. Not so good.

Having practiced criminal law my entire career and handled thousands of cases involving prostitution, I can understand the frustration and anxiety that comes with these types of charges. Many of my clients have said that they believe they probably should have known the person they were speaking to was a police officer and are more upset at the social stigma attached to the arrest and are embarrassed in front of friends and family.

Of course it’s difficult when facing any criminal charge, not just prostitution. And no matter what evidence you think the police have against you there is no substitute for hiring a criminal defense attorney to make sure that you were treated fairly by the police and to make sure that your rights are protected under the law.

If you are facing any criminal charges in Florida or simply have questions regarding any issues in criminal law, Call 800-403-3887 to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney today, Partners are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a free case evaluation.

Never speak to police or go to court without first speaking with a criminal defense attorney.  Remember, even fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut.

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Ratings and Reviews

      

Client Reviews

Outstanding service from lawyer Grant Ian Schwarz.

Lawyer Grant Ian Schwarz provides outstanding service. I recently hired him for my case earlier this year and on the day of the trial it got dismissed with ease. Not only did that case get dismissed but my first case three years ago got dismissed as well with Grant by my side. Mr.Schwarz is a reliable lawyer who I would recommend to anybody having any sort of legal issues. Grant is an extremely caring lawyer who will answer all questions that you have and will respond to any e-mails, texts, or phone calls that you send his direction. I cannot forget to mention his confidence in the courtroom is amazing and it truly shows his greatness. Grant Ian Schwarz is the right lawyer for you. Thank you for everything Grant.

— a Criminal Defense client