A Hollywood police officer, a former star running back fro the Florida Atlantic Owls, was arrested for DUI in Broward County by members of his own department.
He was immediately relieved of duty with pay, pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. He was forced to turn in his badge, his squad car and his department-issued firearm. He stands to lose much more than that if convicted.
His career, his reputation, his freedom and his future are on the line. Cases like this demand the involvement of a defense team with extensive experience. Leaving any part of it to chance could result in lifelong consequences.
Authorities say the incident unfolded around 2 a.m. on North 22nd Avenue. Another motorist told authorities she was driving northbound when the defendant, traveling in the same direction, swerved into her lane. She said she attempted to get over but wasn’t able to move fast enough. He struck the passenger side of her vehicle. The other driver, she said, then continued to drive away from the scene.
About a half mile away, authorities found the officer’s personal vehicle on the side of the road. There was damage to the right side and a tire was flat. Responding officers said their colleague smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and his speech was slurred.
He twice refused a breathalyzer test before he was placed under arrest on charges of DUI with property damage and hit-and-run. The fact that he, a police officer, declined to undergo chemical testing, should speak volumes about what your course of action should be in a similar situation. Although he will be handed an automatic one year suspension of his driver’s license (which could very well mean the loss of his job), he’s also facing at least one felony charge. Unless you are stone-cold sober, the only thing a breathalyzer test will do is serve to pile more evidence against you.
DUI property damage, per Florida Statute 316.193, punishable by up to one year in jail. Meanwhile, failure to remain at the scene of a crash, per Florida Statute 316.027, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
In a case such as this, our defense team may look to suppress as much evidence as possible. We would already have the advantage of not having to battle breathalyzer results. One officer’s observations of another’s demeanor at the time of the incident are by no means scientific. So what we end up with is a he-said-she-said situation with regard to the defendant’s alleged intoxication.
Also working in our favor is the fact that the defendant was also highly respected among his colleagues and community. A union leader for the department described the defendant as a “good, solid” police officer. That can serve to bolster his credibility during trial. Alternatively, it be a powerful mitigating circumstance in the event of a conviction.
If you are charged with a DUI in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Hollywood police officer arrested on DUI charges, Oct. 24, 2013, By Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Florida Breathalyzer Testing Doesn’t Quash Accuracy Debate, Oct. 25, 2013, Broward DUI Defense Lawyer Blog