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DUI/DWI Updates

Tallahassee isn't busy just tackling opposing team's quarterbacks these days. The town is tackling some real big DUI/DWI issues as well this spring. Check this out!

These DUI/DWI issues are all either before the legislature this spring or will be before the Florida Supreme Court:

1.  Let's start with the good news. As it stands now, DUI convictions cannot be sealed or expunged. They remain on one's record forever. However, that could change if a committee bill being currently considered gains traction. This bill would allow for DUI convictions, not involving serious bodily injury or death, to be sealed. Current state law prohibits any convictions that result in an "Adjudication" from being sealed. DUI's are unique in that unless the charges are reduced, dropped, or the person is found not guilty, will always result in an Adjudication and are therefore not "sealable". If this law passes, the interesting issue will be whether or not it applies to previous DUI's, or just one's that are resolved after the law would take effect.

2. Criminalization of First Time Refusals. Current law provides that a person who refuses a breath, urine or blood test who has previously refused such tests to be charged criminally with such refusal. It amounts to an additional misdemeanor count along with the DUI charge. The legislature is now considering a new law to expand this into cases of first time refusals as well. This law would have a negative impact on negotiations and would most likely result in more guilty pleas to the DUI charges.

3. As it relates to the above "refusal" issue mentioned, the Florida Supreme Court may very well render this new law consideration null and void should it side with the defense in the case of Williams v. State (Case No. 5D14-3543). In that case, the defendant argued that the Implied Consent Statutes do not provide an exception to the warrant requirement and that it is impermissible to charge someone criminally for refusing a breath, urine or blood test. The lower appellate court ruled that the search (breath test) satisfied the "general reasonableness" requirement of the Fourth Amendment and therefore the state could criminalize such refusals.

So, there ya have it. Cool stuff going on over there, as the weather gets warmer.

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