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October 28, 2011
A St. Lucie County judge was arrested Tuesday night after allegedly causing her car to swerve back and forth before hitting a guardrail several times and eventually crashing on a bridge. Vero Beach Police responded to the scene shortly after.
The 52-year-old judge, who oversees misdemeanor drug cases, supposedly required three officers to remove her from her vehicle because she refused field sobriety tests and would not exit her car. She was charged with misdemeanor DUI with property damage and misdemeanor resisting arrest without violence.
She was released on $1,000 bail.
According to reports, police supposedly noticed the woman’s eyes seemed bloodshot and glassy, her breath smelled of alcohol and her clothes were disheveled with what appeared to be vomit.
She allegedly identified herself as a St. Lucie County judge and told police she was using her cell phone when she lost control of the vehicle.
The woman is also accused of having an open bottle of Xanax prescription pills in her car, which she supposedly told police was her thyroid medication.
Police apparently asked her to exit her vehicle several times, but she supposedly refused. The report shows that one officer pried her fingers from the steering wheel while two others removed her from the car.
Vero Beach Police supposedly did not have a police dashboard camera video of the arrest because the camera was broken.
Another State Attorney’s Office from outside the 19th Judicial Circuit has been asked to prosecute the case. Reprimands for judges go through the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Based on the above reports, this judge could face some serious ramifications for her alleged behavior behind the wheel. If she is found to be in violation of the ethical standards for judges, she could face disciplinary action recommended by the Judicial Qualifications Commission and finally determined by the Supreme Court. Some possible forms of discipline may include a fine, public reprimand, suspension from office, removal from office, involuntary retirement and possible no disciplinary action at all. The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, or JQC, is an independent agency that investigates allegations of misconduct by state court judges. Many times when a judge’s compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct is questioned and investigated, prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office in that district will ask another office to prosecute the case to rule out any possible views of misconduct.
Since no field sobriety tests were performed and there is no videotape of the scene, it could be tough for the State to prove guilt on the charge of DUI. Many Florida police patrol vehicles contain video cameras that record a DUI arrest in its entirety. The video usually contains portions of your driving behavior, the actual traffic stop, interactions with the officer and field sobriety tests. This can often hold strong evidence to be used by the prosecution, but occasionally it can be helpful to the defense as well. Many times these videos prove overstatements, improper conclusions and exaggerations made by the arresting officer. Without evidence from a breath or blood alcohol test, field sobriety exams and/or video of the scene, any finding of guilt in a DUI case could be mere speculation.
Despite the details related to a DUI arrest, it is pertinent to contact a Florida DUI Defense Attorney to help refute charges stacked against you. At Whittel & Melton our attorneys can review any and all possible evidence and select the strategy best suited for your defense.
If your or a loved one has been arrested for DUI throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or call our St. Lucie County consultation office toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).