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What to do if pulled over for a DUI in Florida

November 3, 2014 • Dana Morris

You have had a drink and you’re being pulled over.

What are you going to do?

First, you’ve heard throughout your life that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? As both a friend and a criminal defense attorney, I would advise you to go out to your car, at your earliest convenience, and make sure that your registration and insurance information is together and easy to find in your glove compartment box. Second, keep your driver’s license in your wallet or purse. If you have all the documentation that an officer asks for, you appear organized, not incoherent or confused (i.e.: intoxicated). Third, try your best to settle down and be polite to the officer. Remember, it is very important to start off on the right foot with law enforcement. Fourth, questions asked by law enforcement will be designed to require that you admit something. What does that mean? Here are just a few examples:

  • Do you know why you were stopped?
  • Where are you going? Where have you been?
  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • Do you know your eyes appear bloodshot/glassy?

Remember, you are not required to say anything at all but refusing to do so may appear evasive; as if you’re not cooperating or have something to hide. Keep your answers brief. If the officer asks you if you know why you were stopped, answer “No.” Realistically, you may have been driving just fine except for a tail light was out or you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. You aren’t required to share with an officer if you have had anything to drink that evening. Likewise, you don’t have to say where you have been or where you intend to go. Most DUI lawyers will advise individuals to use the phrase, “I’d rather not say.” It is fine to just leave it at that. Again, you need to appear organized, respectful, and responsive. Responsive DOES NOT MEAN providing long winded answers or engaging in law enforcement’s fishing expeditions. If the answer is no, the answer is no.

Lastly, if an officer asks you to submit to field sobriety tests, chances are good that you are going to jail. Why would I say this? Very, very few people who are asked to perform these tasks are released afterward because they did an outstanding job (even when sober). At this point, the officer is simply building the DUI case against you. By refusing, you will be arrested. Just remember, it’s the State Attorney’s Office that decides if, and how, someone will be charged. If there’s not enough evidence to support a DUI charge, the case may result in a dismissal or a lower misdemeanor charge, such as Reckless Driving.

Now what?  Were you pulled over for DUI or reckless driving? Are you facing “drunk driving” charges or have you been arrested for a DUI and need an attorney?  If so, give The Morris Law Firm a call and they will help answer your questions and ease your mind.  Dana Morris specializes in answering tough legal questions.  With over 14 years experience as an attorney, he can help you with answers to some of your questions like:

  • “What do I do now?”
  • “What is this going to cost me?”
  • “How much will a DUI attorney charge?”
  • “Will I lose my license for a DUI?”
  • “Will I have to come back to Panama City for court dates?”

Contact a Panama City DUI Attorney at The Morris Law Firm – Defending Your Rights Every Step of the Way

The Morris Law Firm is available 24/7, so call now, (850) 257-5680, and let us help you.  We can also schedule a free consultation in our office to review the facts of your case and determine the best course of action.

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Possession of Marijuana Under Florida Law

October 31, 2014 • cms@nextclient.com

Florida law criminalizes the possession of even small amounts of marijuana. Unlike other states, Florida does not contain any exception for a joint or other small amount for personal use. In fact, Florida statutes list marijuana (cannabis) as a Schedule I drug, declaring that it has a high potential for abuse with no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

In terms of the penalties that can be imposed for conviction of a drug charge, Florida law does distinguish between possession of a small amount of marijuana that is likely for personal use, as opposed to larger amounts that arguably could be in one’s possession with the intent to distribute. For instance, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a first degree misdemeanor under section 893.13(6)(b). Twenty grams is less than one ounce. Even this charge can carry a stiff punishment, though. The maximum penalties for a first degree misdemeanor in Florida include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A conviction also results in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for a year or more.

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a third degree felony in Florida, meaning you could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and be ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, still for having less than an ounce of pot in your possession.

Being in possession of fewer than 25 marijuana plants is also a third degree felony. Possession of 25 or more plants is a second degree felony, with potential punishment up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Possession of drug paraphernalia, including pipes, bongs and other smoking devices, is a first degree misdemeanor.

Can you really go to jail for one joint?

Technically, yes you can, although that result seems unlikely. However, with the threat of up to one year in jail for possession of a small amount of marijuana, police and prosecutors can easily scare people who have been arrested into pleading guilty and accepting some lesser punishment rather than risk a trial. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to an experienced Florida drug crimes attorney immediately after your arrest. There may be many ways to fight the charges against you. For instance, the police may not have had the right to stop or search you in the first place. With a criminal defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to get the charges dismissed when you might have otherwise pled guilty and paid a significant fine because you were scared by the prospect of jail time. Even if a plea is in your best interests, your attorney may be able to secure probation or treatment through the Bay County Drug Court, rather then paying a substantial fine or spending time in jail.

Contact the Panama City Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Morris Law Firm – We Put Our Clients First

Make no mistake that Florida drug laws are tough, and being found guilty of possession of just a small amount of marijuana can spell serious trouble with long-term consequences. However, with the help of an experienced Florida drug crimes defense attorney, you have the ability to achieve the best outcome possible in your given set of circumstances. Call The Morris Law Firm. We’re available to answer our calls 24 hours a day. (850) 257-5680. We can also schedule a free consultation in our office at your convenience.

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