Long Distance Runaround
I got a referral from an attorney in the Panhandle regarding one of his clients, MS, who was on felony probation imposed by a hanging judge up there. MS had transferred his probation to this area and was living with his parents in New Tampa while working as a waiter in Ybor City. After working a double shift and having a few drinks with co-workers, he got lucky and spent the rest of the night with a female friend. The next morning when he left her house he got lost in the unfamiliar University area and was extremely sleep deprived.
Trying to get home the only way he knew, he decided to backtrack to Ybor city where he could use I-4 to get to I-75. His driving pattern was apparently erratic enough to attract the attention of a civilian police dispatcher who followed him down Fowler, southbound on 275, exiting and coming back east on Scott St. where he stopped and got out of the vehicle to change a tire. The police who had been in contact with the civilian following MS arrived, but only after MS had gotten out of the vehicle. Believing MS to be impaired, the officer had him perform field sobriety exercises and submit to a breath test after being arrested for DUI. MS was held on the DUI and on the violation of probation which it created with no bond and the expectation that he would be sentenced to prison should he be found guilty of the DUI or any other crime.
The family retained me and I immediately recognized a problem with the arrest: Because the officer had not witnessed the commission of the misdemeanor DUI charge, the arrest was unlawful and we were able to have all evidence thrown out and the case dismissed in short order.
Thanks to our successful defense of the DUI, the violation of probation was also dismissed and MS is back on the job.