LAKELAND, Fla (February 10, 2020) — A 49-year-old male teacher faces under the influence charges after a Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled him over for a traffic violation. The man, who is from Riverview, teaches at the Kathleen High School according to a statement he made to the arresting deputy. The Ledger reported that the deputy, who was on routine patrol at the time of the arrest, stopped the sports utility vehicle for a traffic violation. The deputy wrote in the arrest report that the camper which the teacher pulled with his SUV had tail lights that were not working properly. The deputy observed behavior consistent with an intoxicated driver and conducted the investigation which ultimately led to the teacher’s arrest.
The reporting deputy stated that he encountered the SUV pulling a camper without working tail lights around 9:15 p.m. on a Sunday. The SUV and camper were headed east on State Road 60 in the Mulberry area. After observing the camper without operable taillights, the deputy pulled the SUV over and approached the driver’s window. Upon reaching the window and talking with the driver briefly, the deputy said that he noticed the apparent smell of alcohol coming from the driver. The deputy began a DUI investigation in earnest at that time.
The deputy asked the male driver to exit the SUV. The driver complied but the deputy noted that the driver was unsteady on his feet, had trouble maintaining his balance, had difficulty speaking clearly, and showed signs of confusion. The deputy also noted that there were numerous empty cans of alcohol in the SUV. All of the observations led the deputy to form the basis for a DUI arrest.
The deputy transported the man who said he was a teacher at Kathleen High School to the Polk County Jail for booking. The teacher submitted to the breathalyzer test and took the test twice. Both of the test results came back as 0.228% blood alcohol concentration, which is nearly three-times Florida’s legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content. The teacher reportedly told the deputy that he thought the breathalyzer test results would yield a result of around 0.03%.
The deputy investigated the camper further and learned that the vehicle was reported stolen out of Hillsborough County. There was no indication that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office charged the teacher with a crime relating to that event.
Florida DUI Laws
The legal limit under Florida law is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. Section 316.193 of the 2019 Florida Statutes allows the police to measure a suspect’s alcohol level by either breath, as in this case, or by blood. Sometimes the law is known as the “per se” law. In other words, if you reach that level, then you are “per se” intoxicated and could be convicted of DUI.
Breathalyzer results and blood test results can be challenged successfully in court. The person administering either test has to possess the requisite training to perform the test correctly, to take the sample, whether it is blood or breath, correctly, and to interpret the results correctly. In other words, the test results are useless if the proper protocols are not followed.