New Citrus Park Football Coach Arrested for DUI in Tampa

If you are a Tampa resident and you think you can sleep it off after a drink in your car, then maybe you would be better off paying out for a cab, or at least make sure you have a nap in the back seat in a legally parked area. The head football coach at Citrus Park Christian School was arrested this past weekend for allegedly being DUI, even though he was not driving at the time and was in fact found asleep in his own car.

Nathan Galan has recently taken up the head coach position at Citrus Park, having coming all the way from Illinois. He is also a teacher at the school. He was apparently found asleep in the driver seat of his auto early Sunday morning. The ignition keys were in place in the front of the car, and the engine of the car was still running. In this state, this means that one is technically in charge of the vehicle. The state limit for an adult non commercial driver of 0.08% does not only apply to a person who is actually driving, but also someone who is in the driver’s seat, as long as the keys are in the ignition.

It seems that officers from the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue were first to find the dozing coach and discovered that he was neither ill nor suffering from a medical condition. When a police officer appeared on the scene, he allegedly smelled alcohol on Galan’s breath.

25 year old Galan allegedly had a BAC of between 0.140 to 0.149% when tested for blood alcohol concentration. This would be nearly double the acceptable limit and, if the testing procedure was accurate, could possibly mean that he was just under the threshold for extra penalties for DUI.

The coach was still in custody when the Sheriff’s Office reported the news of the arrest. Normally, when someone has been arrested for DUI, they might spend the rest of the night in jail before being released. Galan is apparently on a $500 bond.

DUI is taken very seriously here in Florida and many people underestimate the long term effects of a DUI conviction. Even a first time offense can mean a short period in jail, probation, a fine, 5 points on one’s Florida driver license and a commitment to attend community service and / or driver school. As far as someone who is in a high profile job, such as a head coach for a well known football team, it is uncertain what the effects of having a criminal conviction will eventually be, but it is unlikely to be viewed favorably. DUI convictions are mostly misdemeanors, but even these can stay on your record for 75 years – that’s a life time, in reality. Most job applications, especially those involving contact with the public, involve filling in details of any prior convictions, so one drink too many can affect you for the rest of your life.

If you have been arrested for DUI, whatever your public profile, you should consider fighting the charge. There are simply too many disadvantages in the long run if you allow the prosecution to proceed without an effective defense being mounted on your behalf.

There are many ways that an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer can help to get a DUI charge dismissed. The prosecution must be able to prove beyond any doubt that you were under the influence while in command of your vehicle. Tests for blood alcohol concentration are usually taken at some point after you have been asked to leave your vehicle and the extrapolation back to the time you were driving is not always accurate. There are many other possible inconsistencies that occur in DUI arrests which allow skilful and aggressive defense attorneys a chance to vigorously defend you against a DUI charge.


Was Adoption a Ruse to Protect DUI Defendant’s Fortune?

Few ordinary citizens who have been charged with DUI would have the options available like a billionaire. The case of John Goodman, a man whose fortune derives from his family’s Texas air conditioning business and is worth millions of dollars, is certainly unusual. He has a DUI charge to be decided by the court as well as a civil action against him by the surviving family members of a man who was killed when Goodman crashed into his car in Wellington, Florida over three years ago.

The accident was alleged to have happened as a result of Goodman being DUI at the time and he was formally charged with DUI manslaughter as well as a number of other charges. The charge could mean a jail sentence of anything up to 30 years if he is convicted. However, the billionaire seems to be more worried about losing part of his vast fortune if the wrongful death lawsuit against him is successful.

The accident happened when Goodman was driving his $200,000 Bentley in February 2010. The Bentley veered across the road and struck the car belonging to Scott Patrick Wilson. Mr. Wilson died as a result of drowning after his Hyundai sedan ended up in a canal. It is his parents who are pursuing the current wrongful death suit against Mr. Goodman.

Goodman could stand to lose much of his personal assets if the lawsuit is successful. He has been accused by Wilson’s parents of resorting to an unusual tactic. He has “adopted” his own girlfriend, who is only 6 years his junior. According to his lawyer, the adoption is all about securing Goodman’s estate and allotting assets more evenly amongst the children belonging to him and his girlfriend. However, the dead man’s parents feel that the adoption could rob them of a significant part of the wrongful death compensation payment as the adopted girlfriend would be handed at least a third of Goodman’s assets.

They have appealed to the judge involved in the case to consider the portion of Goodman’s assets which will be awarded in trust to the girlfriend to be part of the total which could be available to pay the compensation settlement.

Whatever the outcome of the case, the results could still be very serious for Mr. Goodman. Losing the court case against the DUI charge would mean that he could spend a considerable time in jail as well as pay a large fine and he is unlikely to see his license returned any time soon.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa and you are not a billionaire, then you will certainly still need an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer to help you defend you against the DUI charge. The charges against Goodman in this case were particularly serious because his actions are alleged to have led to a fatality. However, even a DUI charge in which nobody has been injured can lead to severe penalties.

Not every DUI arrest is clear cut. There are often situations in which a person is arrested for DUI, even if they were not over the legal limit when they were actually driving. In fact, it is quite possible for a person to be arrested for DUI even if they have never been drinking. This is because the tests used to determine DUI can be seriously flawed or appear to show a person was over the 0.08% limit because of contaminated equipment, or because a poorly trained officer used the equipment. There are even DUI charges laid against some people based purely on the subjective observations of officers who have stopped a DUI suspect on the roadside.

DUI arrests do not always lead to a conviction. The prosecution is legally bound to prove that someone was actually over the legal limit at the time they were driving. By using an experienced DUI attorney, you stand a chance to fight the DUI charge against you and you may be able to get the charge dismissed altogether or have the penalties imposed reduced if you are finally convicted.

$35 Million Settlement verdict for Man Involved in DUI Fatality

The complex DUI case involving a man from the South Florida is an example of the often unforeseen penalties of being convicted of DUI in this state. Thomas Cypress has just been given a $35 million judgement to compensate the family of two people killed by him when driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009.

Cypress had been tested for blood alcohol level after his arrest and was found to have been driving with three times the state legal limit for alcohol of 0.08%. The settlement amount is in two parts, awarded in separate judgments as a part of a wrongful death claim against him. 5 of the 35 million dollars was awarded for punitive damages, normally only awarded when willful negligence has been demonstrated.

In this case, the defendant had little going for him that would help to exonerate him from the DUI offense. It was one of those examples of a situation in which he would have probably been better off just not drinking and driving. The full details of the case are symptomatic of just what might be in store if someone is arrested for a repeat DUI offense and when somebody is seriously injured or killed as a result of their driving.

Cypress had veered across the center line on the Tamiami Trail in February 2009, and crashed head on straight into the sedan belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who were visiting the state from Maryland. He was apparently driving on a suspended license – the result of an earlier DUI conviction. In fact, this was the third time that Cypress had been arrested for DUI and he pleaded guilty to this offense, despite having a high profile lawyer to help him through the court proceedings.

Florida has very strict rules for anyone convicted for DUI and, in some situations like the one here, this does seem to be justified. However, there are often situations in which DUI arrests are made with invalid evidence, or evidence which is marginal. Sobriety tests, for instance, which are the sort of tests made when someone is first pulled over by a police officer, can be very subjective and can also be intimidating and lead to behavior which can be interpreted in the wrong way. Chemical tests for alcohol are not always completely accurate and tests by breathalyzer, for instance, are notorious for yielding inaccurate results.

Whether this is your first DUI arrest or if you have been convicted for DUI at some time in the past you will certainly need an aggressive and determined Tampa DUI lawyer to help you plan your defense. DUI convictions can result in harsh penalties. Thomas Cypress is serving 12 years in jail for his crime, in addition to the recent court judgment that he pays the huge compensation amount to the adult children of the two people he killed. It often comes as a surprise to those who are arrested of DUI to learn that they can spend time in jail, even for a first offense. This is unusual, unless someone is seriously injured, but remains a possibility.

DUI is normally a misdemeanor, unless it is a repeat offense or somebody has been seriously inured, but this still means a criminal conviction. DUI convictions will also result in a fine, points on the driver license, suspension of the license for a minimum period and possible compulsory attendance at DUI school. These are penalties meted out by the criminal court. If somebody has been injured, then a personal injury claim may also be made, or a wrongful death claim, if somebody has died as a result of proven negligence.

The penalties may seem overwhelming for anyone who has been arrested for DUI for the first time, but they are not automatic as a result of an arrest. With the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney, a DUI charge can be dismissed if proof of DUI is not convincing. In other circumstances, the penalties may be reduced as the result of a systematic and skillful defense.

Sick Cat Emergency No Defense in Tampa DUI Case

It has taken three years for a decision, but a three judge panel at a 2nd District Court of Appeal has now decided that the defense put forward by a driver stopped for speeding was insufficient to prevent him from being charged for DUI.

The case has attracted international media attention because of the unusual situation in which Christopher Brooks was arrested. He was apparently stopped for driving at 83 mph by police officers in the city of Tampa and was subsequently arrested for DUI. He claimed that he was taking a friend’s sick cat to a nearby vet’s clinic. He also said that he acknowledged that he had been drinking, and was going too fast, but thought that he was legally within his rights to do so.

Florida law allows a certain amount of leeway when it comes to breaking normal traffic laws when driving if the objective of the driver is to take a sick or injured person for treatment under emergency conditions.

The question in this case was whether taking a sick feline to the vet could be considered a ‘defense of necessity’ as the relevant clause is referred to.

There appeared to be no doubt that Mr. Brook’s story was genuine. The cat was definitely sick and in fact died during the enforced wait at the roadside. Mr. Brooks was also accompanied by two human passengers, one of whom was the owner of the cat. The owner pleaded with police to allow them to proceed to the vet, who was apparently very close to where the car was pulled over.

One of the reasons the case has taken so long to come to a final decision is that it has been appealed under the ‘defense of necessity’ clause. However, it appears that the final judgment from the panel ruled that the clause could only apply to humans and not to cats or any other domestic pets. Mr. Brooks was not only allegedly DUI at the time he was driving, but it was the third time he had been arrested for DUI in 10 years. Sentencing had not been decided by the time this blog had been written.

DUI is taken very seriously indeed in Florida and a third offense can mean harsh penalties for anyone who is convicted. The penalties are even greater if the three offenses have been committed within ten years and can be considered a felony, rather than just a misdemeanor. The penalties for Mr. Brooks could include a mandatory jail term of up to 5 years, a large fine, 5 years probation and permanent forfeiture of his license.

Every DUI arrest has unique considerations, although it is unlikely that anyone else in Tampa will now contemplate driving a pet to a vet after a drink and at speed. If you have been arrested for DUI, you should not think that you are automatically guilty. You should make sure you get an aggressive and experienced Tampa DUI lawyer to help you defend your constitutional rights.

A good DUI lawyer will be able to examine every detail of your arrest carefully and look for errors and contradictions in the way the arrest or the alcohol testing was carried out. There are many ways in which a defense may be successful. Police officers must be able to justify the reason why they stopped you in the first place. They must also be able to provide convincing evidence of correct protocol in the field sobriety tests and questioning techniques they used at the road side. The chemical test for alcohol, if one was used, must be proven to have been carried out under exacting conditions.

Sergeant in High profile Tampa attorney DUI Arrest Fired by Police Chief

If you are a Tampa resident, in fact, even if you are from anywhere else in Florida you may remember the DUI arrest of Phil Campbell, the Tampa attorney who was representing Todd M.J.-Schnitt in his lawsuit against Bubba the Love Sponge early in the year.

The case was memorable at the time, partly because of the acrimonious and completely public series of exchanges over the radio between the two shock jocks, but also because the police officer who was present at the arrest of Campbell was accused by Campbell’s firm of having inside knowledge of Campbell’s whereabouts at the time.

In fact, just to recap a little on the case, Phil Campbell had been drinking one night with a female paralegal who worked for the rival law firm representing Mr. Campbell’s client’s adversary. Campbell claimed not to have known who the woman, Melissa Personius, was at the time or the significance of having a drink with her. The police officer who stopped Campbell, allegedly after observing him driving erratically, later acknowledged to have been informed about Campbell’s tete a tete with Ms Personius by his friend at the Adams and Diaco law firm, Adam Filthaut, who was working for Bubba.

Mr. Campbell’s DUI arrest was subsequently dropped by the state attorney, partly because of lack of sufficient evidence and also because of the publicity about Sergeant Fernandez’s motives. Campbell had not performed well at the sobriety tests carried out after he had been stopped, but claimed this was because of medication he had been taking. He refused to take a breathalyzer test, so the prosecution had limited real evidence with which to prosecute him. Theoretically, a DUI charge depends on being able to prove that the arrestee had more than 0.08% blood alcohol content at the time they were driving. Prosecution is possible, although more difficult to prove, if there are no results from a chemical test available to indicate the BAC of the person arrested.

Later this year, the FBI apparently took an interest in the police officer’s story about his relationship with Mr. Filthaut at the Adams and Diaco firm and what exactly he said or did not say after Campbell’s arrest. The FBI investigation is not yet over, but the Tampa Police Chief, Jane Castor, has said that there is sufficient information available to suggest that Fernandez had been misleading about his role in the Campbell arrest. She cited the fact that Fernandez had claimed that 95 text messages, all apparently between the Sergeant and  at the Diaco firm had been “accidentally erased”. Chief Castor said that this really was not credible.

Sergeant Fernandez’s own legal counsel is understandably unhappy about the dismissal and is prepared to appeal against it.

It is highly unlikely that many Tampa residents are so famous that they are pursued by police officers who know what they have been drinking and who they have been drinking with. However, the developments in this case do reinforce the fact that DUI arrests are not always as clear cut as the arresting officers would like to make out. In fact, you don’t have to be famous to be arrested for DUI in Tampa under circumstances which can be disputed by a good DUI lawyer.

DUI is a serious offense in this state and there are harsh penalties for anyone who is convicted. Even a first offense can land someone in jail, in addition to paying a substantial fine, lose their license for a specified period and pay higher insurance rates as a result of the conviction. A DUI conviction is a criminal conviction and will stay on your record for a very long time. It could affect your job, your ability to seek promotion or change your career, or seek credit.

Don’t let a DUI arrest intimidate you into accepting a charge that you have not committed. Fight your DUI charge by hiring an experienced and aggressive Tampa DUI attorney. A good attorney will ensure your constitutional rights are upheld and that you get the justice that you deserve, not one that has been concocted by law enforcement officers who just want to get a conviction.