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Clearwater Criminal Defense Blog

What is the difference between reckless and careless driving?

When you think about careless and reckless driving in Clearwater, you might think they are the same thing. Though they are similar, there are some key differences you should be aware of. Both types of driving behaviors can lead to car accidents, injuries and death. 

It is important for you to understand the difference between the two as both types of infractions can have a negative impact on your life and lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.

State representative introduces bill decriminalizing marijuana

People who are in Florida and who are carrying 20 grams or less of marijuana may no longer be taken into custody if a house bill is successful. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith has filed legislation in an effort to decriminalize marijuana possession and increase people's ability to access cannabis for medical reasons.

Possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana would be reclassified as a noncriminal civil violation. For adults, penalties would be either a fine under $100 or 15 hours of community service. For juveniles, there would be a mandatory drug awareness program, community service, or both.

Man reports himself to police for drunk driving

On Jan. 6, Florida authorities released a report regarding a man who called the police on New Year's Eve to report himself for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The dispatcher reportedly kept the man on the phone while authorities attempted to locate him.

The man told the dispatcher that he was drunk and had no idea where he was. He told her that he was driving on the wrong side of the road and was attempting to get pulled over. Eventually, it appeared that he parked in the middle of the road. When authorities arrived at his location, he allegedly told them that he had drunk several beers and had taken some methamphetamine. He also noted that he had barely slept over the last few days. Authorities said that he had a criminal history that included drug possession, hit and run, and DUI.

A basic understanding of plea bargains

Up to 90 percent of criminal cases in Florida and throughout the U.S. are resolved by plea bargaining. Plea bargains are attractive for some defendants because they allow them to get a lighter sentence. For prosecutors, plea bargains save time and energy that can be focused on more serious matters. As a general rule, the courts don't mind if the parties involved in a case can resolve it on their own.

In fact, the courts may not be able to resolve cases in a timely manner if they were forced to handle every criminal matter that arose. In most cases, plea bargains are classified as charge bargains. In exchange for pleading guilty to a lesser charge, more serious charges will be dropped. It may be possible for a person to plead guilty in trade for a lighter sentence.

Late night fast food stop leads to charges for country star

A Florida McDonald's was the scene of a minor car accident on Dec. 20 that led to criminal charges for country singer Michael Ray. The charges of DUI and drug possession came after Ray rear-ended a car that was in front of him at the restaurant's drive-thru.

According to police, Ray was in a Jeep Wrangler at a McDonald's in Eustis around 3 a.m. He told police that he hit the car in front of him in the drive-thru lane after his foot slipped off the pedal. Police say he was slurring his words and his eyes were bloodshot. He failed a field sobriety test and admitted that he came to the restaurant from a bar. A search also uncovered cannabis oil in Ray's pocket. He was charged with DUI and felony possession of marijuana and held on $6000 bond.

Holiday safety campaign illuminates risks of drunk driving

Drivers whose holiday plans include travel on roadways in Florida and other states may want to heed the message of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's seasonal safety campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. According to an NHTSA deputy administrator, law enforcement officials will be on patrol across the country over the Christmas and New Year's Day holiday weekends in an effort to protect motorists from intoxicated drivers.

Data recorded over the past five years suggests that driving under the influence between Christmas and New Year's Day may cause or contribute to an average of 300 fatalities annually. In 2016 alone, 781 individuals were killed in drunk-driving-related accidents during December. In a statement, United States Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao urged motorists to drive sober during the busy December holiday season and asked them to plan a safe ride home before imbibing at seasonal celebrations.

Understanding prescription drug charges in Florida

Most physicians intend prescriptions to aid in either enhancing or maintaining a patient's condition. When law enforcement has suspicions of an individual misusing prescriptions, an officer may make an arrest, and a person may face prescription drug charges

In order to properly fight charges, individuals must understand what all they entail. There are a few key concepts for prescription drug charges in Florida.

Florida sub charged for alleged drug sales to students

According to authorities with the Hendry County Sheriff's Department, a 35-year-old woman who was working as a substitute teacher was charged after she allegedly sold marijuana to two middle school students. The woman was taken into custody on Dec. 8.

Officers report that the two middle school students admitted to smoking the drugs that they allegedly purchased from the teacher and said that they became ill. After the students' reports, deputies with the Sheriff's Departments arranged to buy marijuana from the teacher.

Drug charges for methamphetamine

Methamphetamine abuse and addiction are serious problems in Florida. Because of the addictive potential of this drug, Florida law classifies it as a schedule II controlled substance. People who are found to be in possession of schedule II drugs without valid prescriptions may face severe criminal penalties.

Under the law, people who are found to be in possession of methamphetamine may be charged with third-degree felonies. People who are charged with possessing precursor chemicals that are needed to manufacture meth with the intent to manufacture it may be charged with second-degree felonies. Likewise, people who possess precursor chemicals with the intent to distribute the chemicals while knowing that they will be used to make methamphetamine may be charged with second-degree felonies.

Traffic and criminal charges: What you should know

As a motorist who frequents the streets of Florida, you may not realize that certain types of driving behaviors can result in criminal charges. When driving, you pay careful attention to conditions and other motorists to minimize your risk of collision or accident. But sometimes, accidents are not avoidable. 

It is important for you to understand the difference between a moving violation and criminal infraction. Failure to recognize when you have a criminal citation can cause you to lose your freedom and end up with a criminal record that can follow you all throughout your life. Here is a brief overview on some difference between traffic and criminal traffic citations