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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Blog

Are drug searches in schools legal?

If you are a parent in Florida, then you probably have been notified that your child's school has undergone a drug search by local law enforcement. Such searches are conducted often in school around the country as a way to keep drugs out of schools. However, you may wonder just how legal these searches are.

According to The Patriot Ledger, drug searches in schools are completely legal. The bigger issue, though, is that some searches are conducted without alerting parents. In this day and age where school shootings are becoming prevalent, seeing law enforcement at a school can cause alarm. 

How soon can my license be suspended after a Florida DUI ticket?

You might be one of the safest drivers in Florida. You might not have accumulated any violation points on your license. This does not make you immune to license suspsension— and it might happen faster than you think.

Even if you have a spotless driving record going back several years, the state might revoke your license if you receive a DUI. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles lists three situations that might lead to the court suspending your license:

  • You fail to respond to or comply with a traffic court summons
  • You do not complete mandatory traffic school
  • The state finds you unable to operate a motor vehicle safely

What can you expect from a DUI traffic stop?

A DUI traffic stop is frightening, especially if you do not know what to expect. Florida drunk driving laws are strict, and a conviction can lead to life-altering penalties. You may find it beneficial to understand what to expect from this type of traffic stop and the methods used to evaluate a driver's sobriety. 

There are only certain things that law enforcement officers can do when pulling over a driver. He or she cannot violate your rights, and there are only certain methods an officer can use to determine if a chemical test is necessary or there are grounds for an arrest.

Do harsh penalties reduce drunk driving?

One of the main ways that Florida has worked to combat drunk drivers on the roadways is through increased penalties and imposing harsher sentences on those convicted of drunk driving. However, you probably still hear a lot about drunk driving accidents and other related news, so do these harsh penalties really work? Are those who drink and get behind the wheel really paying attention to what could happen to them if they get caught? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk drivers are deterred by harsher laws and punishment. Particularly, license revocation, ignition interlock devices and tough laws for underage drivers.

What is drug trafficking?

There are a variety of crimes that you could be charged with if you get found with drugs by law enforcement in Florida. One of those is drug trafficking, which according to the Florida Statutes, includes any instance involving more than the set amount of a drug where you are selling, making, transporting or buying it. The amount of the drug is dependent on the type of drug. In addition, the penalty is based on the type of drug and the amount.

For example, if a person is found with 4 or more grams of heroin, he or she is charged with a first-degree felony for trafficking. If the person has only 4 grams, then he or she will get a mandatory sentence of at least three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. However, if the person has 28 grams, he or she faces a mandatory sentence of at least 25 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

What affects your BAC?

If you get pulled over because law enforcement thinks you may be intoxicated, you will typically be asked to take a test that measures your blood alcohol content. BAC levels are important in Florida because they determine if you are driving while under the influence and play into the penalties you could face if found guilty. However, BAC is hard to determine. You may feel fine but be over the legal limit. This is because, as the University of Notre Dame explains, your BAC is affected by a variety of factors. 

For example, if you have eaten a big meal before drinking, your BAC levels will be kept lower. This means you can drink more alcohol before your BAC rises than someone who has an empty stomach. Another factor is if you are taking medications. Some medication can enhance the effects of alcohol and raise your BAC.

What you should know about drug paraphernalia

When it comes to the subject of illegal drugs, a lot of people in Florida generally only pay attention to the possessing of drugs alone. However, many Florida residents may not be aware of the prohibitions on drug paraphernalia. According to Findlaw, individuals may be arrested for possessing drug paraphernalia without actually having the drugs themselves.

Basically, drug paraphernalia consists of items and devices that are used to cultivate or prepare illicit drugs. Drug paraphernalia can include many ordinary household items, so it is important to note that merely possessing such items, like spoons and scales, is not a crime. The determining factor for illegality is often the context in which these items are used. For example, if a bong was used to smoke tobacco and has no illegal substance residue on it at all, the owner is unlikely to be charged with paraphernalia possession.

Invalid traffic stops could lead to invalid DUI charges

An officer stopping you for a DUI in Florida is scary. The penalties associated with drunk driving are steep, and there is a lot at stake. Fortunately, there are laws and policies in place to protect the interests of motorists, including rules that state police must have valid grounds to make a traffic stop of a driver.

If you are facing a DUI charge after a traffic stop that you believe was not valid due to lack of reasonable suspicion, you can fight back. You may be able to challenge the circumstances of the original traffic stop and your arrest, protecting your interests and possibly shielding your future from unnecessary complications. Drunk driving is a serious criminal charge, and it is smart to make every effort to understand all of your defense options.

Children: The real victims of opioid epidemic

It's no secret that like every other state in the nation, Florida is struggling with the opioid epidemic. While much thought and work have gone into trying to find ways to stop the spread of drug use, restrict access and help those addicted to it, there is a group that has become the silent victims of the drug. This group is the children of those who use opioids. 

While these kids are not using drugs and never asked to be a part of the lifestyle, they have no choice. According to the New York Times, many of them are becoming orphaned thanks to opioid overdoses or being removed from their homes because their parents are unable to care for them. They are crowding into the foster system putting a strain on the already overworked system. Sometimes grandparents step in and raise their grandchildren. 

What is required to prove domestic violence?

If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Florida, you need to understand what it takes to prove the case against you. This requires understanding the law and how domestic violence is defined. 

According to the Florida Courts, the first part of the domestic violence law is that you and the person accusing you must be related or live in the same household. The second part is that you must have committed some type of assault or battery or intimidated the person in some way. Specific crimes that can be considered domestic violence include kidnapping, stalking, battery, sexual assault or assault. Any crimes that cause physical harm or death are also included under this definition.

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