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Archive for the ‘DUI’ Category

Florida’s Accident Report Privilege

Friday, May 17th, 2019

In Florida there are two types of privileges; those that are long standing and set out in the Florida Evidence Code and those that are simply statutory privileges, i.e. created by statute.

Accident Report Privilege is the latter and falls under Fla. Stat. 316.066(7). The purpose behind statutory privileges are similar to the ones delineated in the evidence code in that they exist to allow people to speak freely by not allowing their statements to be used against them in subsequent litigation.

When law enforcement comes to the scene of an accident, they have a duty to interview the persons involved and prepare an accident report. The accident report privilege helps to ensure that the investigating officer will get complete and truthful information from the persons involved in the accident so an accurate accident report is generated. If the statements could be used in subsequent litigation then the parties would not be inclined to cooperate with law enforcement and law enforcement would be unable to prepare an accurate accident report. Having accurate accident reports serves a public interest and that public interest is more important to society than an individual’s desire to use those statements in subsequent litigation.

Accident scenes are typically not conducive to confidential communication. Thankfully, the communication does not have to be confidential in order to fall under the accident report privilege. Should that communication to law enforcement be overheard by another party such as a witness, that communication is still protected and cannot be used in subsequent litigation.

Like all privileges, there are exceptions to the accident report privilege. Identity of the driver is an exception. In addition, an excited utterance or spontaneous statement which is not in response to a question by law enforcement does not fall under the privilege. Statements made by witnesses who are not involved in the accident do not fall under the privilege. The privilege only applies to the driver, owner, occupants and those directly involved in the accident that have a statutory duty to speak to law enforcement regarding the accident.

In addition, like all privileges the privilege can be waived by failing to object to use of privileged communications at trial. Where this privilege appears different than those delineated in the evidence code such as attorney client privilege is that recent case law allows for there to be inquiry into those privileged communications at deposition. In a deposition, if a party is asked to divulge any communication between the attorney and client, the attorney would immediately object and instruct the witness not to answer that question and the court would uphold that objection. Suppose instead the party is asked to divulge what they told the investigating officer at an accident scene, the attorney would still voice an objection as to the admissibility but could not get away with instructing the client not to answer that question. Answering the question does not waive the privilege and that information will still not be admissible at trial; however, that information may be used to discover admissible evidence that can be used at trial. One could argue a more accurate name for this privilege would be the accident report inadmissibility rule.
In light of the complexities of the accident report privilege, you should always consult a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney who specializes in accident cases if you are involved in an automobile accident.

Drivers Targeted by DUI “Wolf Packs” in Manatee County

Monday, March 25th, 2013

The Florida Highway Patrol used roaming DUI “wolf packs” this weekend to target drivers.  A “wolf pack” is when troopers spread out across a neighborhood specifically looking to make drunk driving arrests.  This weekend troopers patrolled streets in Manatee County neighborhoods from 10pm Friday until to 3am Saturday.  In Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is considered impaired.  For drivers under the age of 21, the BAC limit for DUI charges is just .02.

What should you do if you’re arrested for DUI?

DUI arrests are a big deal, you need to take the right steps now and put yourself in the best position possible to fight the DUI you’ve been charged with.  You need to hire a criminal defense lawyer right away to start defending your case.  Here is a list of things your lawyer can do for you:

  • You only have 10 days to challenge a license suspension.  Your attorney can start filing all the legal paperwork needed to try and get your license back.  Your lawyer can also try to get you a hardship permit, if you had a valid license at the time of your arrest.
  • If you took a breathalyzer or blood test, your attorney can try to challenge that test and the results.
  • Your attorney can also try to challenge the field sobriety test, since the results of this test are subjective and based on the arresting officers assessment.
  • What about the reason you were pulled over to begin with?  Your attorney will look at the basis of your traffic stop and may have grounds to fight the arrest.
  • Did they cross the t’s and dot the i’s?  Your attorney should go over every detail of your traffic stop and DUI arrest.  If the procedure was not done correctly, you may have legal grounds to fight that your DUI arrest was invalid.


Criminal defense attorney Mark Zimmerman fights DUI arrests in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Sarasota or Manatee County, it’s important that you act now. Mark Zimmerman is a board certified criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s office who knows the system and who will fight for you.  Contact Mark at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online contact form today for a free evaluation of your DUI case.  There is no time to waste.

DUI Charges in Sarasota are Like 3 Cases in One

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

If  you’re facing a DUI charge in Sarasota,  Bradenton, or Venice,  it’s important that you understand the process that lies ahead of you.  While you might think that you only have one case to deal with, in fact you probably have three.  Let me explain.

  1. First you have your criminal case which will include the charge of DUI and any other additional criminal charges that stemmed from the incident.
  2. Second is any civil infraction which you may have been given during your arrest.  This could include speeding, careless driving, failure to maintain a single lane and a host of other potential citations.
  3. Third is an administrative law case against the DMV for the suspension of your driving privilege if you blew over the legal limit of .08 or refused to take a breath test.

These are complex matters with potentially devastating consequences if not handled properly.  Mishandling these issues could result in further loss of driving privileges, financial consequences and even jail time.  If you or someone you care about is charged with DUI in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice area, then call Zimmerman and Zimmerman for a free consultation so we can explain your rights, the legal process you will be facing and how we can fight the system and win.

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