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Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys recently read in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that tax-payers are funding take-home vehicles for employees of the Broward and Palm Beach County sheriff’s offices. Deputies are permitted to drive department-issued vehicles to and from work and for personal use depending on the county. Some even get free, unlimited gas, which is subsidized by tax-payers.

In Palm Beach County, over 1,500 employees of the Sheriff’s Office drive cars home and more than 10% of those employees live outside Palm Beach County. Close to 3,000 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees drive take-home cars, but it’s not known how many of those employees live outside of Broward County.

The policy has been defended as a benefit to the public, because it supposedly serves as a deterrent to would be criminals. Another rationale is that it allows officers to respond more quickly to emergencies.

However, these take-home cars cost the counties millions of dollars each year. The Broward Sheriff’s Office reportedly spends about $19 million annually on gal, vehicle maintenance and replacement, but it’s unknown how much of those costs are a result of the take-home car policy. West Palm Beach has restricted its take-home car policy to officers living in or near the area. The city saved over a half million dollars by revoking vehicle privileges from 80 employees.

The question remains: should take-home cars be a tax-payer expense? And is the added crime prevention worth the added expense?

Source: South Florida deputies get take-home cars – and we pay, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 13, 2010 Continue reading

Sporadic system crashes at DMVs across the state have led to longer wait times for license renewals and other tasks, frustrating Florida drivers and officials alike. Since November 3, the system has been crashing intermittently, and IBM has declared the situation critical. A spokesperson for the DMV said the situation has not yet been fixed.

Because of stricter ID requirements for getting a driver’s license following 9/11, Florida motorists already faced frustratingly long wait times at DMV offices. Long waits were made even worse at the Deerfield office when two bathrooms went out of order, sending sewage up through the floor.

However, officials have assured the public that those in line by 5pm would be assisted by DMV employees.

Source: Driver license renewal wait gets longer because of intermittent system crashes, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 12, 2010 Continue reading

tollbooth.jpgOur Coconut Creek traffic lawyers have learned that the signage in an area of the Sawgrass Expressway is creating confusion among drivers. One Florida motorist from Lake Worth even got a $165 traffic ticket after following instructions to “keep right,” then crossing the white line to head north on the turnpike because her lane was not on the right. She was cited for driving through a safety zone.

The woman fought the ticket in court, arguing that the tollbooth canopy blocked her view of overhead signs instructing drivers which lane they should be in. A judge will determine if the ticket still stands.

No statistics were available how many other drivers had been cited for improper lane changes in the area, turnpike authorities say they are aware of a problem and are examining ways to improve electronic signs above the plaza to make lane information more clear.

Source: Sawgrass drivers find Deerfield toll plaza confusing, The South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 13, 2010 Continue reading

Our South Florida traffic attorneys have learned that the site of the old Coca-Cola bottling plant on South Andrews Avenue may be turned into a 1,000-space parking garage for the new courthouse. A Broward County committee unanimously recommended the site, which will then go before the Broward County Commission for approval.

A Fort Lauderdale-based project developer competed against two other bids and won the committee’s recommendation. It has vowed to stay within the county’s $29.5 million budget and create a covered walkway leading to the courthouse. The developer also estimates that the garage could be completed in 18 months after permits are approved.

The parking garage contract bidding war had pitted several of Fort Lauder’s bigwigs against each other.

Source: Old Coca-Cola site on South Andrews Avenue gets committee’s nod for courthouse parking garage, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 4, 2010 Continue reading

Speed traps abound here in South Florida, and the Palm Beach Post is asking readers to write in with the location of speed traps around the region. The Post’s Watchdog team is planning to examine the topic for a future story about Palm Beach County speed traps and how much the county makes from these areas.

They’ll also be pondering the question on many Florida drivers’ minds: do speed traps protect public safety or are they a sneaky way of generating revenue?

So far, almost a hundred readers have written in with warnings about local speed traps. According to the Post, some residents even spend time waving handmade signs warning other drivers about spots where Florida traffic cops typically hang out, waiting to issue speeding tickets.
 

 

Source: Open your trap – and tell us about speed traps, Palm Beach Post, November 15, 2010 Continue reading

According to an arrest report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida authorities arrested a former courthouse employee on 23 counts of official misconduct and booked her into Palm Beach County jail earlier this week. The 27-year-old is accused of altering traffic records and dismissing cases while working as a deputy clerk for the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller’s Office in Delray Beach.

She was fired and allegedly used her position to dismiss traffic tickets and clear driver’s license suspensions for her friends, relatives, and boyfriend. Authorities estimate that she may have altered as many as 42 records, resulting in over $5,000 in lost traffic fines for Palm Beach County. Those records have been corrected.

If convicted of official misconduct, her maximum sentence is five years of jail time for each count.

Source: Former Palm Beach County court employee arrested, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 8, 2010 Continue reading

police_lights_Florida.jpgOur South Florida criminal defense lawyers have read about some bizarre cases over the years. But this case is among the oddest ones we’ve seen. It seems that a fake police officer was “patrolling” Boca Raton and pulled over a couple of drivers. The 60-year-old Delray Beach man was reportedly wearing a police-type badge around his neck and carrying a loaded handgun.

He questioned drivers about whether they had alcohol or drugs in the vehicle, and when they answered in the negative, he told them to leave. Drivers sensed something was amiss, so they called and tipped of the Boca Raton police. But the biggest red (or in this case, green) flag was the fact that the flashing emergency lights on the man’s Ford Crown Victoria were green, instead of the red and blue that real cops have.

When officers questioned the man, they smelled alcohol on the suspect and arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was also arrested and charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Source: Fake cop arrested for DUI – and pulling over drivers, South Florida Sun Sentinel, October 18, 2010 Continue reading

Many people are still buzzing about Steve May, the legislative candidate who withdrew from the race after news of his drunk driving conviction last year went public. Obviously a drunk driving record can tarnish a politician’s reputation. But the stigma of such as a conviction can have a devastating impact on regular people, too.

Here in Florida, those convicted of DUI do not have the option of having their record expunged or sealed, so that conviction can haunt them for the rest of their lives, impacting their relationship with friends and family members who may look them differently or grow distant.

A DUI conviction can be also make it difficult to find a job, as many employers conduct background checks and don’t look favorably upon a DUI conviction. Even renting a car or finding a car insurance company willing to cover you becomes a challenge. That’s why it’s so important to seek legal counsel if you’ve been charged with a crime such as DUI.

Source: DUI CONVICTIONS CARRY A HEAVY BURDEN, Auto-Mobi.info Continue reading

The rise of citizens videotaping police encounters has had a profound impact on criminal defense, prosecution, and how police conduct themselves. On the one hand, these videos can be a valuable resource for holding police accountable and giving juries much-needed insight into what really happened during a shooting or alleged police brutality. It can also sometimes help clear an officer’s name.

However, some worry that knowing they might be in videotaped could inhibit officers from taking necessary action for fear of retribution. That’s why police in several states have tried to enforce laws that limit such recordings when they believe videos could interfere with police activity. In Broward County, Florida, new cadets are trained to conduct themselves as if they could be videotaped at any time.

Here’s an example of a bystander video taken in Orlando, Florida, as police tased a man who was already on the ground:

 

 

Source: For cops, citizen videos bring increased scrutiny, APP.com, October 15, 2010 Continue reading

Our Miami-Dade DUI attorneys have learned that the Florida high court is examining a case in which the Department of Motor Vehicles refused to reinstate the driver’s licenses of two Florida motorists who were convicted of driving under the influence in 2002.

The drivers had refused to have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars. The devices prevent drivers from driving drunk, because they must pass a breathalyzer test before the car will start.

However, the attorney defending the case says it’s not a legitimate argument, because the drivers failed to appeal the DMV’s order. The Florida legislature gave the DMV the right to refuse reinstatement of licenses for DUI offenders who refuse ignition interlock devices, so it’s unlikely that the outcome will impact other DUI cases.

Source: Florida high court may decide if DMV overstepped authority, WPTV.com, October 7, 2010 Continue reading

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