Texas Man Gets Drunk Without Drinking

DUI lawyers often report that some people are arrested who have not been drinking, but who blow positive in a breath test. The reasons vary from person to person, with some having odd medical conditions and others having taken medication which simulates alcohol.

A man in Texas was reported recently being “drunk” on a regular basis, even though he hadn’t been drinking. He didn’t get caught for DUI but his wife was so concerned that she actually went out and bought a breathalyzer, worried that he would “drink” and drive. According to his wife he would regularly show symptoms of being drunk after going to church on Sunday, or “at any time”.

The condition that the man was suffering from was revealed eventually when he felt so ill that he went to the hospital, complaining of dizziness. Doctors at first thought that he was a secret alcoholic as he tested five times the legal limit for alcohol (0.08% in Texas and here in Florida) despite claiming he hadn’t been drinking.

It took a more detailed look at what was happening before a rare condition was diagnosed. It appeared that the man had a surplus of brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces) in his stomach. The yeast was naturally fermenting any sugars or other carbohydrates that were accumulating in that part of his digestive system. The alcohol produced by this unseen fermentation was giving the man the symptoms of drunkenness that he and his wife had been noticing.

According to a report in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine, the condition is known as auto-brewery syndrome or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It doesn’t happen very often, simply because the particular strain of yeast which ferments any surplus carbohydrate is not normally present in the gut.

One of the reasons that many DUI lawyers are cautious about DUI arrests is that breathalyzers and other chemical tests do not necessarily only test positive for the alcohol in alcoholic drinks. In fact, they can respond to a small number of other chemical substances that trigger similar results in the machine, despite not making someone drunk. In some medical conditions, substances called ketones are released by the body and can be found in the breath.  Ketones can be mistaken for alcohol by the breathalyzer machine and someone can be arrested for DUI despite them not having had a drink.

In other cases of testing error, solvents used in certain medications may have a certain amount of alcohol in them and if taken orally not long before the person is stopped by police, may indicate they have a “blood alcohol” content which is over the limit. Another source of error can come from sanitary wipes which are routinely used in cleaning equipment, including the equipment used in testing for alcohol content. These wipes have a small amount of ethanol – the same alcohol in alcoholic drinks – and if used too liberally can mean that a test result is inaccurate.

Stories like the auto-brewery syndrome in Texas may make for humorous reading, but for those few people who have been arrested for DUI because of a false alcohol test, the situation is serious. DUI penalties are severe here in Florida and it takes a knowledgeable and tenacious DUI lawyer to unravel what has gone wrong when someone is wrongly arrested. 

Fired Tampa DUI Sergeant Fights to Get his Job Back

The Tampa Police Department DUI team supervisor who was fired after allegations about his conduct in the much publicized DUI arrest of attorney Phil Campbell earlier this year is attempting to get his job back. He has just had a grievance meeting with Assistant Police Chief John Newman at the Tampa Town Hall with several others present, although his own attorney did most of the talking.

Sergeant Fitzgerald and his attorney, Chip Purcell, think he did nothing wrong when he arrested Campbell after apparently getting a tip off from someone he knew who was working for Campbell’s opposing side in the Todd MJ Schnitt vs Bubba the Love Sponge Clem legal wrangle.

The fight to get Fernandez reinstated has apparently only just started and could take a year before a final decision is made. There are several organizations involved in the investigation into the happenings that took place the day that Campbell was arrested. These include the FBI, the Police Department itself and the Florida Bar. The latter is particularly looking at the conduct of the two key lawyers at the Adams and Diaco law firm that had been representing Bubba at the time of the arrest – Adam Filthault and Steve Diaco.

Adam Filthault, one of the firm’s lawyers, just happens to be Sergeant Fernandez’s son’s godfathers and the two obviously know each other well. The Tampa Police Department has said that 92 text messages were sent between Filthault, Fernandez and Ms. Personius, the paralegal working for Adams and Diaco who had met Phil Campbell at Mario’s Bar the night he was arrested. It was Ms. Personius’s car that was being driven by Campbell when he was stopped by Fernandez and another police officer and then subsequently arrested.

Purcell said that it would have been impossible to send 92 text messages just about where and what Phil Campbell had been doing that night. He said that they also exchanged news about paintball and their kids.

Chief Jane Castor of the Police Department maintains that Sergeant Fernandez abused his power as a police officer during the arrest and allowed personal relationships he had to influence him.

Fernandez’s attorney said that the meeting at the Town Hall went well and felt “very encouraged” about the prospects of his client being reinstated.

The Tampa Police Department now has two weeks to make a decision after reviewing the case. If it still refuses to reinstate the ex Sergeant, the whole affair goes to another hearing with the city, then an independent arbitrator, whose decision is supposed to be binding.

Meanwhile, Phil Campbell’s own attorney in the DUI case is not at all happy with what he considered went on before and after his client’s arrest. He thinks that some of the lawyers involved in what he believes was a set up by the Adams And Diaco firm should be disbarred after being investigated. The odds don’t necessarily favor this. The Florida Bar apparently investigates nearly 700 lawyers every year in the state, with around half of them facing some sort of disciplinary action. However, only a handful, about 1 in 1000, actually gets disbarred every year.

This whole story started with a radio personality’s reputation at stake. It has now mushroomed out of proportion and several reputations now hinge on the resolution of the Fernandez case. This includes Sergeant Fernandez himself, the lawyers at the Adams and Diaco firm and the Tampa Police Department. Last, but not least, are the dozens of people who have been arrested as a result of Sergeant Fernandez for DUI over the years whose cases are also being reviewed. The story will be continued to be watched by many people in Tampa and across the state in the weeks and months to come.

Tampa a Possible Location for Goodman DUI Retrial

The retrial of International Polo Club Chairman John Goodman for DUI has been prolonged because of accusations over the suitability of a previous juror. It has now been suggested that because of adverse publicity over the trial in Palm Beach County, the retrial may take place in Tampa or another location in Florida. A senior judge in Palm Beach, Justice Colbath, denied the trial move last Friday unless suitable jurors cannot be found in the county.

Goodman is on house arrest at present, pending the retrial. He was originally sentenced in 2012 for DUI manslaughter after the car he was driving in veered into the path of an engineering student at the University of Florida, Scott Wilson. Wilson’s vehicle was pushed off the road and into a swamp. He was drowned and died as a result of the accident. Goodman was alleged to have had a blood alcohol level of twice the allowed limit of 0.08% and was sentenced to 16 years in jail.

A retrial was ordered after one of the jurors in the original trial that found Goodman guilty was accused of misconduct by the defendant’s defense attorneys. 70 year old Dennis DeMartin was alleged to have failed to reveal that his ex-wife had been arrested for DUI in the pre-trial jury selection process. If this allegation was true, then it could mean that DeMartin was in contempt of court, as he would have lied about his suitability as a juror in a DUI case and hence the original trial would have been invalid.

The retrial has been delayed because DeMartin’s suitability has not yet been decided. Judge Colbath has delayed the hearing into DeMartin’s conduct until an assessment of his mental state has been made.  Meanwhile, there has been a push from Goodman’s defense attorneys to have the retrial moved to another county. They have contended that a fair trial is impossible in Palm Beach County because of the huge amount of publicity about the case. They have said that the likelihood of finding impartial jurors would now be too difficult.

Judge Colbath has since ruled that the request for a change in county venue is inadmissible on the grounds that the county should be able to furnish suitable jurors. However, he has stated that if suitable jurors are not forthcoming that it will then be possible to change the trial location. Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Ocala are the possible alternatives for the retrial.

The Deputy State Attorney has said that nothing has been satisfactory so far about the Goodman case. He said that it was unlikely that there would be any difficulties finding suitable jurors from within Palm Beach County and was sure that the retrial would take place there.

The case does demonstrate the necessity for giving a DUI defendant a fair trial. This is everyone’s constitutional right. If you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa, it is highly unlikely that there will be anything like the publicity about your arrest as there has been for John Goodman. However, the lack of publicity is no reason why you shouldn’t be granted exactly the same privileges as the head of the International Polo Club. In any DUI trial, the prosecution has to prove beyond any doubt that you were guilty of the offense you have been charged with.

An experienced and aggressive Tampa DUI lawyer will work on your behalf to defend you against a DUI charge that could lead to serious and long lasting consequences for you and your family. DUI is a very serious charge in this state. It is not treated in the same way as an ordinary traffic offense, like speeding. For a start, a DUI conviction will mean that you have a criminal record and this, more than anything else, will affect nearly every aspect of your future life. A skillful Tampa DUI defense attorney will be able to examine every aspect of your DUI arrest and search for inconsistencies and inaccuracies that can help to reduce your sentence or get your case dismissed altogether.

Having a Famous Name Does not Help in DUI Arrest

A woman from St Augustine with a surname the same as a famous make of motorcycle discovered that it did not help at all when arrested for DUI recently. Hiring a very experienced DUI attorney would probably have been a lot more useful at this stage.

49 year old Ms Heather Harley Davidson, assumed to be no relation to the inventor of the famous motorcycle brand, was arrested for DUI after she was observed swerving from side to side in a 2001 Lincoln Continental, according to a report from the St. John’s Sheriff’s office.

What followed after Ms Harley Davidson was stopped didn’t appear to make it any easier for her potential DUI defense. The arresting officers allege that her breath reeked of alcohol, while she was unsteady on her feet, as well as unable to walk in a straight line towards the area where sobriety tests were to be carried out. According to the report, the driver of the Continental at first refused to complete any tests and was quite abusive. She later calmed down and then became tearful and was taken first of all to Flagler Hospital, then on to the county jail.

Ms Harley Davidson now needs a good DUI lawyer as she will find that the DUI arrest process is loaded on the side of the prosecution. Whatever the real story of what happened before and after her arrest last Wednesday evening, the story given by the deputies at the scene is the one most likely to be listened to by the court unless she has a skilful and experienced DUI attorney to help her with her defense.

At this stage, it is not known whether Ms Harley Davidson had been convicted of a DUI offense before, so it is hard to predict what sort of penalties she could face if she is convicted for DUI this time around.

A first time DUI offense in Florida could mean a potential jail sentence of up to 6 months as well as a fine of between $250 and $500. Jail is not commonly used as a punishment, but probation, loss of one’s license and insurance rate increases are much more likely. This may not seem too bad, but even a first DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor. This is still a criminal conviction and the effects of such a conviction are likely to hang around the DUI defendant’s neck for a very long time. A DUI conviction can mean the loss of a job, promotion, career or a college course. At the very least, insurance rates go up as soon as the driver’s insurance firm hears about the conviction.

For anyone who has been convicted for DUI before, the need for a reliable and skilled DUI attorney is even more important. A good DUI lawyer can at least look more carefully at the arrest procedure. Many aspects of a DUI arrest are not always carried out correctly. In some cases, drivers who have had no opportunity or inclination to drink then drive, have been arrested for DUI. Their breath analysis or other form of blood alcohol test should definitively prove whether they were DUI at the time of their arrest, but the test is not always reliable. Even innocent people have sometimes been wrongly convicted and have later had to be released.

The best advice that any DUI attorney can give to anyone contemplating driving back home using their own automobile is simply not to drink and drive. There are usually several opportunities to share vehicles, pay for a cab or use public transport. DUI laws in Florida are some of the toughest in the country, so if you have been arrested for DUI in the Tampa Bay area, then make sure you engage a professional and experienced DUI attorney to help you in your defense.

John Goodman DUI Trial Request for Trial Move Slammed

The trial of the billionaire executive of the Palm Beach Polo Club, John Goodman, for DUI, has been requested to be moved to another county, with his defense attorneys citing excessive negative publicity in Palm Beach. The state attorney’s office is apparently not impressed by the request and at this stage it is doubtful whether the request will be sanctioned.

Prosecutors claim that with a population of 1.3 million, the county has more than enough people to select a non-biased jury to help in making a decision at the trial.

Goodman was arrested after his car, a $200,000 Bentley, veered across the road at a Wellington intersection, now over three years ago and straight into the path of young engineering graduate, Scott Wilson. Mr. Wilson died when his Hyundai sedan was pushed off the road into a canal and he was drowned.

The case has already been reported on this website last week because of the wrongful death lawsuit against Goodman by the parents of Mr. Wilson. Goodman has “adopted” his girlfriend, 6 years his junior, in a move which has been alleged to have been designed to prevent his vast personal fortune being taken if the civil action against him is successful.

Goodman’s attorneys have stated that there has been an unprecedented amount of negative publicity about the case in Palm Beach, partly because of the wealth attached to Goodman’s estate, and it would be unfair for him to be tried in that county. It has been stated that it would be almost impossible to find a full jury of people who had not already been affected by media and other coverage of the story in the county.

Goodman’s attorneys had made the same request before his first trial in 2012, but this was quashed at the time and he was then found guilty of DUI and ordered to spend 16 years in a state jail. The trial was then reopened earlier this year when misconduct had been alleged by one of the original jurors, 70 year old Dennis DeMartin.

Another issue altogether has also surfaced. Goodman’s Bentley was reported to have malfunctioned at the time of the accident. The defense attorneys representing the billionaire have apparently been incensed that the vehicle has not been kept as evidence in the retrial.

Assuming that a venue for the trial is decided on at the end of this week by Judge Colbath, the retrial will be held in January next year.

Most people are not billionaires and their DUI arrests rarely reach the front pages of the national and local newspapers as well as taking up air time on the radio and TV. However, their constitutional rights to a fair trial are just the same as John Goodman’s. If you have just been arrested for DUI in Tampa or anywhere in Hillsborough County or anywhere else in Florida, it is vital that you get an aggressive and dedicated DUI attorney to help you defend yourself against the charge.

If you think that when you are arrested for DUI, you have to accept being convicted, then this is far from being the case. There have been many situations in which people have been arrested for DUI and have wound up with a criminal conviction for something which they did not do. In other cases, they have been alleged to have been over the state limit using unreliable or misleading data. In some situations, the protocol for arresting a DUI suspect is not followed properly. In others, a chemical test for DUI is taken so long after the time the suspect had been driving that it is hard to justify using the test results to determine whether the driver was actually over the limit at the time he or she was driving.