Drunk driving charges can happen to almost anyone, but it is still a serious crime with severe penalties. A police officer who works for the Lakeland, Florida police department was arrested for driving under the influence in Fort Walton Beach.
Lakeland officer drives his police SUV around Fort Walton Beach while drunk
The incident began when officers from the Okaloosa County Sheriff noticed a Chevy Tahoe SUV marked with the Lakeland Police logo driving erratically on U.S. highway 98. They saw the SUV make a sloppy U turn into oncoming traffic and continue to swerve into the inner lanes as it proceeded forward. After the traffic stop, they noticed the Lakeland officer who was driving did not have his driver’s license with him, appeared dazed and had slurred speech, and refused to take a sobriety test. He was in Fort Walton Beach for a U.S. Police Canine Association field trials event, as he was certified as a K-9 officer.
The Lakeland Police have already issued a statement that they will be sustaining allegations against the 35 year old male officer for unlawful conduct and taking further disciplinary action. By the time the news report was published, the officer had been terminated from his position. The Chief of the Lakeland department issued a formal apology directed at both the residents and law enforcement communities in the Fort Walton Beach and Lakeland areas.
The consequences of a DUI charge
As the new story above shows, merely being charged with a DUI can result in severe actions from employers in addition to fines, license suspensions, and other sanctions imposed under Florida’s mandatory minimum penalties after a conviction.
Because a DUI arrest and conviction can result in a loss of sources of income and other life changing consequences, it is crucial to have an experienced defense attorney fight for a dismissal or a not guilty verdict.
How do DUI defense attorneys help their clients?
DUI cases are complex because they combine criminal law, traffic law, chemical testing, and administrative penalties for license suspensions. The best defense attorneys can help in all of these areas.
The first and most important aspect of the case for many defendants is to have an administrative hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to see if it is possible to get a hardship license. Lawyers who routinely attend these hearings will know how to make sure the state has the legal authority to suspend a license.
Next, there may be issues with the traffic stop or breath test that can provide important defenses before the case goes to trial. Police always need to have a valid, legal reason to conduct a traffic stop and if they do not, all of the evidence collected after the stop can be suppressed. The breath test taken after the traffic stop must also follow Florida’s implied consent law carefully, otherwise the results of the chemical breath test can be excluded.
Talk to a local defense attorney today
For more information and help after being charged with a DUI in the Fort Walton Beach area, contact ASG Legal. An attorney from the firm can provide a vigorous defense, and it is possible that charges will be reduced or dropped in some cases.