CLEARWATER, FL - A 24-year-old woman employed by the Pinellas County Sherrif’s Department as a deputy assigned to the detention facility lost her job after her patrol deputies charged her with DUI. The sheriff’s deputy crashed her vehicle into a retention pond on U.S. 19 North. According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration was nearly double the legal limit. The sheriff’s officer fired the woman as required by departmental policy.
The sheriff’s detention deputy allegedly drove her 2019 Jeep Wrangler off of the road near 26200 U.S. 19 North. The Jeep plunged into a retention pond at that address around 7:25 p.m. on Sunday evening. The news report from the Tampa Bay Times did not elaborate on how the vehicle left the road. Good Samaritans pulled the deputy from her nearly submerged Jeep Wrangler. There was no information on whether there was a passenger in the Jeep or that the Jeep crashed into another vehicle before going into the retention pond.
Patrol deputies investigated the crash and suspected the woman was driving under the influence of alcohol. The deputies’ report indicates that they observed a distinct odor of alcohol coming from the driver. They also noted that she exhibited slurred speech and had bloodshot, glassy, and watery eyes. The reporting officers also observed that the suspect could not steady herself on her feet.
The investigating deputies asked the driver to perform field sobriety tests. The woman agreed. However, the officers reported that her performance on the field sobriety tests was extremely poor.
The deputies placed the woman in custody and continued their investigation by having her perform a breathalyzer test. The readings from the test were 0.153% and 0.158%, respectively. Florida law presumes that the person is intoxicated and cannot drive at 0.08%. The woman will face DUI charges and was cited for driving carelessly.
FLORIDA DUI CHARGES
DUI convictions in Florida carry potentially stiff penalties. The severity of the punishment must depend upon several factors. Driving under the influence sentences depends on the level of alcohol in the suspect's blood, whether an accident occurred, and the extent of injuries victims suffered, whether anyone died as a result of the crash and prior criminal history, including prior DUI convictions. Driving under the influence when a child is in the car or with an open alcohol container will also increase the potential penalty.
FLORIDA DUI PENALTIES-2019
Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes is the state’s DUI law. A person who drives while impaired by alcohol or with a BAC of 0.08% faces a fine of no more than $500.00 but no more than $1,000.00 and incarceration for no longer than six months.
A conviction for a second offense will carry a possible nine-month jail sentence and a fine no more than $2,000.00 but no less than $1,000.00. The second time offender must install an ignition interlock device for one year. The penalties for driving while the blood is 0.15% are enhanced. Additionally, the law mandates a ten-day jail sentence if the person re-offended within five years.
Lastly, a person convicted of DUI in Florida also will have his or her license revoked at least one year but could be longer depending on the circumstances.