Pinellas Park Police Officer Resigns After Being Accused of DUI :: Whittel & Melton

October 19, 2012

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A Pinellas Park police officer resigned on Monday after he was accused of causing a traffic accident while drunk.

He was arrested last week on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence with property damage and placed on administrative leave with pay.

A St. Petersburg police spokesman claims authorities were called to the scene of a traffic crash at 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

A St. Petersburg man apparently told police he was stopped at a red light when the officer rear-ended his Toyota Tundra with a 2008 Jeep.

Following the collision, the officer alerted those present of his occupation. He denied having consumed any alcohol. He was off duty and driving his personal vehicle.

A St. Petersburg officer at the scene noted that the off duty officer seemed dazed and was unsteady on his feet. His blood-alcohol content allegedly registered at 0.189 and 0.192 percent, more than twice the limit.

Pinellas Park police were notified that night of the man’s arrest.

He was released from the Pinellas County Jail after posting $500 bond on Friday. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 12.

According to police, the collision caused an estimated $500 in damage to the Jeep and $1,000 to the Toyota.

This man is the second police officer within the past week to face accusations of drunk driving in Pinellas County.

A St. Petersburg police officer was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Sunday on a misdemeanor DUI charge.

The woman was allegedly passed out in her vehicle at an intersection.

She has been placed on administrative leave while officers investigate the incident.

Prosecutors must prove multiple elements in order for you to be found guilty of DUI with property damage. Ultimately, they must demonstrate that you were in control of the vehicle at the time the accident occurred and that your driving ability was impaired by drugs or alcohol or that your blood alcohol level was .08 or higher. Prosecutors tend to treat the charge of DUI with property damage a bit differently than a standard DUI charge. This is due to the fact that the State tacks on enhanced penalties when property is damaged, including up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A first DUI without property damage carries consequences of 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

While a DUI with property damage charge carries extra penalties than a standard DUI charge, there are many factors that can create a winning defense on your behalf, including:

  • If officers cannot place you behind the wheel of the car at the time of the accident.
  • A failed field sobriety test could be due to the fact that you were injured in the accident and not impaired.
  • Being involved in a collision can be traumatic and result in watery or bloodshot eyes and even slurred speech.
  • Any head injuries sustained in an accident can cause vomiting and even lead to unconsciousness. Trauma to the head can also compromise the results of the HGN field sobriety test, also known as the “eye test.”

If you or someone you love has been accused of or charged with DUI with property damage, it is important to launch an aggressive defense early on in the case. By acting fast, the charges against you could be reduced or dismissed entirely. For assistance with your DUI matter in Pinellas County or elsewhere in Florida, contact the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or call our St. Petersburg office at 727-847-2299. Reach us 24/7 statewide and toll-free by dialing 866-608-5529.

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